Day 5: Where has the week gone?! I swear we just landed. It can’t be this close to over! There’s so much left to do! When we set out on this adventure my travel partner and I were still in the getting to know your phase. Nothing throws you into sink-or-swim reality like travel. I can definitively say that his perfect balance to me has created a best friend for life. I am a bubbly unicorn. Always happy. I see the best in everything and I want the best for everyone. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I’m never done giving. My cohort might be a bit of the opposite. He has a genuine heart of compassion and giving but he has something I don’t, balance. He is grounded in the logical and analytical which saves him from the devastation I often open myself up to through my love and mercy. There is much I have to learn from his wisdom. And although day five has arrived much too soon for me, because of my abundant drive to give and help, it very well may be not soon enough for him. There is admittedly a humor in this for me.
Today is all about the street market in Brooklyn. And if I’m lucky the Brooklyn Bridge. The weather does not seem to want to hold for us. But I’m OK with that! The warm rain is cementing every emotion I anticipated out of New York. The market is magical! So many vintage pieces to see. It’s like a thrift store meets antique shop all on the street. The colors are as bright as any market I’ve ever seen overseas. The pieces of jewelry are all vintage and the history behind them screams to my heart and my old-soul. The hanging rugs and blankets on display remind me of a time in my life when I would move with nothing and replenish at street markets in my new environment. I have to fight the urge to buy one out of habit.
I probably spend equal amounts of time checking out the statues and street art. All of the statues have some sort of humor or painful history that I want to soak in. The statue of the dogs with their cameras brought me so much silly joy it was hard to contain. I don’t know what tickled me more, the dogs or the “old-fashioned” cameras that were cemented right there in permanent art. I could all but hear our future generation asking their parents, “what are they holding?” Compelled I needed the photo of my “new age” photography next to their vintage pieces.
I cannot get enough of the graffiti out here! I can’t help myself, there’s a photo under every bridge and on every wall! I am the type of girl who realizes the need to say yes to life and to the experiences it provides. I always have been. When I was 16 I flew from California to the East coast to meet a perfect stranger that I had been introduced to over the (at the time very new) internet. In hindsight, yes, I realize the inherent danger but God provides, I am safe and he is currently one of my best friends. Actually he is one of the few that still gets to use my childhood nickname. As a matter of fact that very attitude is what placed me in New York today with an acquaintance now turned friend. Present time, when I ran back to snap a picture of the “yes” scrolled on a bridge wall my travel counterpart muttered something along the lines of, “You do like to say yes.” I hate to say it, but my live out loud heart and love for life very well may wearing him thin. But isn’t that the joy of travel and exploration? Learning new things and learning new people.
The rain will drive us into a café for breakfast. Beautiful artwork, a stage where the band is setting up and the curtain just behind the band giving way to the VIP table. The food is phenomenal and the coffee mediocre. We exchange itinerary for the day and mutually arrange time apart to be with other friends. I could be mistaken but I’m fairly certain I see relief scroll across his face. Again… I find humor in this.
Quickly into a convenient store we grab two umbrellas. Yes, for those of you as analytically inclined as my partner, two. We’re headed in opposite directions today. We shop our way on foot through the town killing time until our meet ups and heading toward a mutually beneficial subway station. All the while I am out loud problem solving only taking breaks to hand something to one of the thousands of homeless on the street. Just about the time he snaps protectively at me about how I need to stop solving all the problems of the world (I know its protective because I’ve heard this very thing in this very tone from my papa since I was 12) we reach the subway that suits us both. I can only imagine his relief to have a few hours of normalcy. His to the right and mine to the left we say a rapid “see you later” and once again I am open to being introspective in this big amazing city.
Headphones in and Metro familiar I’m feeling more and more at home. I hop off the subway to grab a particular coffee and swiping my MetroCard without breaking stride I’m back on to get to the location I need. The second I get off the train I see my local friend’s beaming face. I can tell right away that something is amiss. The mischief on his face only adds to my excitement of the city. “Come on! I have a surprise!” He says.
A street carnival! It’s a New York street carnival! And what are two grown adults to do in the middle of the New York street carnival? Play ski ball, carnival games and bounce in the bounce house of course! There is a pub just at the corner of the carnival that serves our needs very nicely. Today I will be a child on a play date in New York City! We jump ourselves into a frenzy. We are laughing so hard that eventually the ride operator hops in the bounce house with us. It is not lost on me that these are the moments that make the memories that last forever. When we finally exhaust ourselves we head back over to our pub for one last drink and maybe, if either one of us is being completely honest, a little bit of a rest. I am overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. We enjoy a little bit more of the street scene and shopping before we have to say our “see-you-later’s.” The city has reminded me how connection to people can span any distance and any time. We’ve never once said a good-bye and I don’t suppose we ever will.
Hustling back to Union Square to find my partner in crime I can’t help but be caught up in the live music and the energy that surrounds it.
Rendezvousing with my travel partner we decide to head back into Bohemian territory. Williamsburg was exactly what we expected. Hipsters on tap. The only thing preventing it from becoming a normalized city was the advertisement of how many hipsters were readily available. If you didn’t have facial hair or tattoos you could expect to stick out like a sore thumb. Everyone dressed as though they were trying to make an ironic point. Designer clothes need not apply.
The first bar is a garage with rolled up windows. But my counterpart spots the giant connect four game in the back and that’s all it takes. Once inside we realize there’s also a giant Jenga game and we make ourselves comfortable. The winner is debatable. I definitely remove the last piece and placed it seamlessly. I’m certain his grabbing his phone off the table before his play had nothing to do with it toppling over. We will give him the W but expect a rematch in some other state or country in the long run. After the brilliant topple of our jenga game we pick up and pop into another bar up the street, and it was perfect! Wall to wall video games for days. Making friends with the doorman, As I know my cohort loves, we buzz in to a new type of competition. This time I am definitely out of my league. I have never played video games. Three games in and I have lost three games.
Knowing when to cut my losses we head out to our very last stop in Williamsburg. The coffee and beer hub. Having heard of the pickle back in all three bars we finally caved and allowed the bartender, (aptly named) Eric, to join us for a whiskey shot with a chaser of pickle juice. We should have known better when Eric opted out of the chaser. Not something I will ever soon forget but also not something I will soon repeat. Chasing the pickle chaser with a cortado… Yes, I know… We decided it was time to say goodbye to this bar.
Out into the rain, this time sharing an umbrella (because I gave mine away to a homeless woman and her child,) we headed towards a steakhouse that he had singled out before we left Texas. Of course, I had failed at my due diligence and was unaware that they required reservations. No worries. Kindness always prevails and you would be surprised what you can get if you just ask. After a little bit a smooth talking we are on the roster with a five minute wait. Did I mention this is the best steakhouse in New York City for 12 years running?! The waitstaff is hilarious and the food dissolves the second it hits your tongue. We are not dressed for the occasion but I’m enjoying every second of it it regardless. Only able to consume about a quarter of the two-person steak we have them package it up to be given away. Out onto the street, all the buildings lit up with colored lights, and I am in love with the city!
The subway is being redirected and has been all day. You would think by now we are paying attention but we’re not. Both of us with headphones in our ears look up simultaneously to see the river going by for the second time. The smile spreads across my face while he simultaneously registers a look of disappointment. We hop off the train and he evaluates the situation while I steal one last photograph of the city. Switching platforms, engaging the street drunkards on the way, and taking in the sites and smells, this city continues to win me over. This time the subway gets us right back where we belong all the while playing our soundtrack in our ears. The lights are brighter than they’ve ever been. The air is crisper than I remember it being the last five days. The bustle is more energetic and full of consuming emotion. I’m not ready for this to be my last night in New York City. Although the balance of my travel partner has most certainly gained me a forever best-friend, tonight I feel like I’m saying good night and goodbye to a lover….this city.
As usual I love sharing this journey with you! Please share your comments and feedback. I’d also like your suggestions of where you would like to see me explore. Remember to subscribe for updates on the blog. Looking forward to growing and sharing this journey with you.