I was 24 or 25 the first time I visited NYC. One of my nearest and dearest friends worked for a company that had an office in Indianapolis but was based out of New York. Actually, at some point in their lives, almost everyone I hold closest to my heart (including my husband and myself) worked for this company. My friend was in charge of the mail room at the Indy office and while that may not seem very glamorous, he did such an excellent job running the place that the powers that be asked him to help them restructure everything in their New York office.
So, he packed a bag and spent the next seven months commuting back and forth between Indy and the Big Apple. He’d be there for a few weeks and then come home for a few long weekends every month. It was pretty cool for him as he got to live in a nice hotel and kick around one of the best cities in the world whenever he wasn’t on the clock. He also got a pretty hefty per diem, which meant he spent an awful lot of time getting to know the bartender at both his hotel and a few of the local haunts.
Since Labor Day weekend was coming up, a few of us decided to make an extra long weekend of it. Five of us loaded into my car and drove straight through the night to get there. We arrived in Manhattan (in a truly gigantic car–thankfully lanes are basically non-existent there) at the crack of dawn, exhausted but excited. We found his hotel, stowed our car and set about having one of the best weekends of our lives.
If it’s touristy, we visited it.
We went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We strolled through Central Park. We drank at Coyote Ugly (this was not long after the movie came out before there were chains all over the country). We had slices of pizza almost as big as our heads in Greenwich Village. We ate the best bagels I’ve ever had in my life. We rode the subway to the end of the line and then back again. We cruised by the Statue of Liberty.
Notice I didn’t say we cruised to the Statue of Liberty. The tickets for the official ferry to see Lady Liberty were a bit too steep for us, so instead we jumped on the Staten Island Ferry and cruised near her for free. It was fun and wonderful, not only because we got to see the statue kind of up close, but also because I got to see it with four of the most important people in my life (I liked the fifth person quite a bit as well, but we haven’t stayed close).
This past weekend I got to take another long weekend to Manhattan. It was a bit different this time. Although I was still traveling as part of a group, it was initially a group of strangers. While I was sure I’d have a great time in the city, I wasn’t there to hang out. I was there as part of a design team the College Board put together to work on AP courses. My days were not spent leisurely exploring a chaotic city, but rather inside a really cool office building working with fellow educators to put together materials to help other educators and ultimately students.
This time there was little exploration of the city. I didn’t see much outside the four or five block radius of my hotel/temporary office. No Central Park. No museums. No totally outrageous bars (notice I didn’t say no bars at all). I still had some pizza, but this time no bagels. And no free ferry out to see Lady Liberty.
Although I didn’t miss her entirely. It turns out the College Board offices are basically in Battery Park, right near the North Cove Yacht Harbor, so every day I got to look out the window as I ate lunch and see our nation’s greatest symbol. When I finished my lunch, I got to skip downstairs and walk along the harbor for a chance to get a slightly closer look at her.
It wasn’t quite the same, but it was still an amazing, breathtaking experience. I wish my besties could have been there with me, but I did get to meet a new, amazing group of people. And there is talk of another committee meeting in February. As much as I’d love to see NYC again, for the February meeting I’m thinking Miami might be better!