Day 3: It’s Friday morning and the company I keep knows me well. Combining two of my favorite things we head over to Saint Patrick’s cathedral to be humbled by the sheer size and strength of the architecture and in the definitive presence of greatness. At the alter people kneel and fall prostrate with self-effacing demeanor and you can’t help but acknowledge the latency of something greater than self. The organ dwarfs the tallest of patrons and its musical refrain of “Amazing Grace” is echoing in an effort to chisel beyond the already magnificent cuts etched through every corner. Even as I leave the cathedral I am overtaken with the sheer amount of work applied to the greatness of the doors. The mere sight of the daunting strength in the doors alone mimics the value of protection and the sanctity of the space that you are sharing. The irony of the massive arch of church doors framing the man bearing the [unbearable] weight of the world on his shoulders is not lost on me. I too would carry the burden if I had the choice and only something all-powerful could make it possible to do so with a heart of joy. I’m mentally transported to my adolescent kitchen. I can’t be a day over twelve in this memory and my papa is lecturing me with the saddest eyes I’d ever seen him wear. He was trying to communicate to me that I couldn’t save the entire world and that he was genuinely terrified of what the world would do to me as I learned that lesson. This sculpture framed by the grace of these cathedral doors summarized his very fear so aptly. I am consumed by gratitude. My gratitude is for my papa obviously but also for the superior power that has more than carried me, rather He’s driven me to this place of abundance and success. I can barely swallow. I am overwhelmed by my awareness of my overflowing blessings and my desire to express my gratitude.
Continuing our exploratory efforts through Manhattan and into Little Eatly I get my first opportunity to photograph my (first AND second favorite) buildings in the city. Angles and architecture is what has made me fall head over feet in love with any city that I’ve chosen and New York is no exception. On multiple friend’s recommendations we sauntered into Little Eatly where I would have the new standard, an absolutely too-die for, cup of coffee. Wandering the market and sipping my cortado I’m taken by all the sights and smells of this traditional market. I could stumble in any direction and consume any type of food imaginable. The mere teemingness of available selections has me reeling. I could be happy with so little and here I am in the hub of so much. Still, my gratitude swallows me whole. After about half an hour I was able to do the impossible and I made a decision. We made our way to the Italian section and shared some stories of both life’s devouring movements and joyous moments over some extremely palatable house wine and the kind of food [ravioli in my case] that you should stop eating far before the eventuality of a stomach ache consumes you. Grabbing the check, and one more espresso to go, we were off. Spilling back into the hustling streets of New York and back into the deglutition of the escapade.
Do you ever have one of those days where a friend of yours is amidst an unstoppable and unavoidable challenge and you can’t help the compassion that flows from you? Today is one of those days. I have a friend who is struggling with circumstances beyond their control and I have willingly allowed it to spill over into my heart. I am designed to care for and collaborate on my friends’ pain. So, what is the solution in order to keep my head up today? Choice. When the world says to turn a cold shoulder and affirms that it’s not my problem that’s when I dig deep. I think of that conversation with my papa in the kitchen and know he is both worried over and proud of me for this unique skill. I love and trust FIRST and completely. It’s my experience that everything else falls into its home when I can get out of its way, trusting the process and accepting it with love. I’m purifying all these thoughts silently in my head but my counterpart must sense something because we are heading towards true North. The direction you should always head when you’re struggling.
On our way we get a good look at the National climbing debt clock. The number is revolving so quickly my head spins with it. How on earth can the system make sense?! My travel companion does me a solid and tries to explain but I’m still rattled by the fact that we can continue into such consumption and debt. It definitely puts my first world problems into perspective.
Finally, we arrive at the find of the day. A perfect little book store with all the charm of a tiny whole in the wall but all the fascination of a four story building full of books that smell like history begging to be exposed at its most honorable. I happily dive into the classical section to begin and then I trail around to the history section and even further into the nonfiction and educational section. How is it that people have a favorite genre of book? They are all so compelling for so many different reasons. I pulled up a small patch of wood floor and leaned against a book shelf full of my favorites. That’s where I would consume the beginning of one of the many new books I would buy on this trip. Strands books definitely saw me coming and $120 later I wandered out about 40 pounds happier.
Across the street was “Chocolate by a Bald Man” which beckoned me inside. The interior of the building would be reminiscent of one of my favorite childhood books, “Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory.” There is chocolate being piped across the ceiling into enormous vats to be stirred continuously. The smell encircles the shopper as they walk through the door and begs them up to the counter. How we ever resisted the temptation I may never fully understand. Perhaps it was the fact that we have been spoiling our selves culinarily for the last three days or maybe because we had just consumed one of the finer Italian meals I’ve had in quite some time. Either way, after viewing the incredible chocolate pumping mechanics of the building we sneaked back out past the doorman and pressed on towards Grand Central.
Grand Central was so much more than grand! In fact, Grand Central seems like such a myopic judgment. Almost like whoever named it was trying to make an over-the-top sniping remark of understatement. The vaulted ceilings are graceful but powerful. The open arches and carved columns speak to a time of creative genius as opposed to space utilization. My partner in crime verbalizes what we’re both thinking, in today’s day and age they would never allow this type of space to go un-utilized in consideration of craft. The etching and the carvings speak to a time when architecture was an art. The entire building screams to me of hard work and discipline.Forgive my lack of photography I was genuinely enthralled and it just slipped my mind. This building is like a woman and her lover. The design and creativity cries out over everything begging to be appreciated by all the hurried travelers in the way it was designed. One thing I have noticed about this city is that no one slows down enough to consume it in its raw palpability. And on that note we move on.
My friend knows of a bakery here in town that has the “best cookies.” They are the size of a saucer and chewy with an almost dough like center. We jump into the 20+ person line and with cash in hand slide in and out of the two way traffic pushing down the one-person wide stairway. Competing for valuable sidewalk real estate with the mailman we pull ahead in the slightest to offer payment for our single cookie. No time for tax or change. Keep the line moving. Up the stairs and back down the street to find some life changing coffee to accompany this standard changing cookie. Neither the coffee, the ambience or the cookie would fail us. The coffee shop was a narrow shoe box like every other slice of real estate in this town. But the decor was amazing! The dark woods and the copper tone’s embraced each other well. It was exactly the pick me up we both needed to prepare to head back across town and ready ourselves for tonight’s show.
Having decided early on in the morning which show we were going to see (off-Broadway having already enjoyed an on-Broadway) this evening we allotted ourselves plenty of time… Or so we thought.
It’s day three and what originally began as a fluid dance between my friend and I through the city has by now become a silent and effortless communication. It’s very rare you can find someone to tolerate while traveling but if you know you’ve always got each other’s six you have found a situational anomaly indeed. The peripheral glance over my shoulder will always give way to my friend’s presence and vice a versa. There’s something comforting in that. Our personalities travel with a distinct segregation but our efficacy of movement is undeniable. Still, our seamless and silent back-and-forth wasn’t enough to allot us extra time when neither of us could call the clock on site seeing. Both of our inquisitive nature’s tend to get in the way as we incline to want to squish in just one more thing.
Hustling into our hotel for an under 10 minute change… again… it’s impossible not to chuckle as we jump back down the elevator and into a cab. My heart is happy.
Each show and event we attend only solidifies our impeccable teamwork which is a strange and unexpected consequence if you knew the stark contrast of our personalities. One of us handling a cab payment while the other handles directions. One of us handles check in while the other handles seating. We are in our seats just before the lights flicker. On tap for viewing pleasure this evening, the Effect.
By intermission my jaw is on the floor. Again, such a simple set and only a cast of four. But this play!! This show communicates so much so powerfully. It’s a compelling story of love versus hormone and integrates well with the ethical debates of medicinal trials. The dance of science versus love and nature is one I am well familiar with and this specific play spoke to me. In my early twenties I “fell” for the first time. At least I think I did. This is still a debate in my thirties. I don’t like what the world has decided “love” to be. I used to say, “ding” in order to communicate that overwhelming feeling of connection to him. In fact he engraved a letter box from Tiffanys with “Ding” as one of our anniversary gifts. I eventually caved to society’s standards and started using the words, I love you. But I once again I find myself back in a space where I’m free to question it and define it as I see fit. And, as we all know, I choose not to fit the world’s mold on what love will look like for me or anything else for that matter. The actors and actresses did an impeccable job sharing a story that inevitably resolves for two couples the exact same way. In love. Regardless of the cause, dopamine or emotion. The effect was definitely love. The catalyst didn’t matter because the culmination was one person sacrificing self in order to care for and protect their lover. The show wrapped with one of the lead actresses in tears. It was moving to say the least. It was a show I identified with and one I felt enlightened leaving.
Tapas are on tap next but you can’t wander the streets of New York after 11 PM without grabbing a slice of New York pizza. With just enough oil and half as much crust as the usual pizza sharing a slice with a friend is exactly what the moment called for. As an aside, I’d like to just take a minute to acknowledge that New York taught me that pizza is a meal. I never understood why they ate it with a knife and fork until I was lucky enough to have some myself. Pizza in New York is less bread and more food. Covered in everything; meats, vegetables, cheese and you name it, it is delicious! I will never see or eat pizza the same way again. It was just enough to get us further into SOHO where we would find a tapas bar we were in search of. How is beyond me. There was no name labeling the building. There is also no name on the menu. Come to think of it, there was no name anywhere to be found. We had to check in with the bartender to be certain. But this restaurant was perfection. The food was incredible and the service, as is the standard in New York for me, was above and beyond anything that could be considered good. The food suggestions melted like butter on our tongues slipping off of the laughter and conversation, with just a perfect amount of accountability.
I’m exhausted. But there is so much more city left. And this is indeed the city that never sleeps. So we head off for one last adventure of the day. Getting out of the cab and hustling across a quiet street there’s a man leaning against an unassuming door. This is where we meet Sam. This is also apparently where “face value” matters. The two in front of us are turned away to return later for a potential seat. Somehow, we are escorted into this quiet speakeasy. Maximum capacity can’t be more than 50 people. The room is dark and lit only by ornate but, false, tri-fold chandeliers. The room is in line with what you might expect of the haunted mansion at Disneyland. The atmosphere is hush-hush but buzzing. The Energy is high and the drinks are specialty. Where are we? I’ll never tell. The drinks go down smooth but I am officially worn out. This city may just bring me to my knees.
*As always I am looking forward to sharing this journey with you! Please; like, share, follow and comment to engage in the discussion. And for more photos check out the insta page for searchingnotlost*
Photos of the off-broadway show “The Effect” are courtesy of the website http://www.broadway.com