Fun fact: Before this trip, I hadn’t been back to New York since exactly a year ago, the day of my graduation.
As much I would love to say that the fortuitous timing was pure kismet, I had actually wanted to visit much, much earlier — back in winter, actually. But then I went to Europe and fulfilled my vacay quota. And then friends from New York started flying out to SF to visit me, and these visits would always end in hugs and somewhat baseless promises of, “I’ll definitely come back to New York and visit you!”. Days of should-I-or-shouldn’t-I whenever I started searching for transcontinental flights on Kayak/Priceline/Travelzoo/whathaveyou turned into weeks, which turned into months. Soon it was the beginning of May, where I was dangerously approaching the one-year anniversary of my departure. Giving up any and all pretense, I finally cut the cord of self-restraint, purchased the tickets to New York on a whim, proceeded to email all of my college friends, and started counting down the days until May 16th, the (freakishly early) morning I’d leave for the concrete jungle.
Maybe it was serendipitous that I landed in New York and saw the Empire State Building lit up in shades of Columbia blue and white in honor of all of the students who had graduated from my beloved alma mater. It doesn’t exactly help that a certain song always plays in my head every time I arrive in New York. Or the fact that it’s all too easy to believe that coincidences like these will align up so perfectly in this city.
ANYWAY. I don’t want to wax nostalgic and sappy with my 2389483 feelings about New York (and trust me, 2389483 feelings is a lot. Plus East Coast time has messed with my sleep cycle, so I’m not even remotely coherent enough for that.), but I will give you photographic evidence as to why this weekend was easily one of the best weekends ever. And I have been lucky enough to experience some really awesome weekends, so congrats, New York. I owe you one.
REASONS WHY THIS WEEKEND WAS AWESOME:* (also Reasons Why Weekends are Best Spent in New York, Reasons Why Cindy Still Insists on Keeping Her NY Driver’s License Even Though She’s Technically a California Resident, Reasons Why Cindy is a Hopeless Glutton, Reasons Why Cindy Needs to Get Off Instagram, Reasons Why Cindy Just Likes Taking Photos and Blabbing on About Them, among other title substitutions)
*list is not in any specified order
• I got to visit my home away from home. Or, if you want to get all Inception up in this grill, my home away from home away from home. I can’t believe it’s been almost 5 years (August 2007, wow) since I biked across the George Washington bridge without having showered for four days (HAHAHAHA), down Riverside, and through those gates of Columbia, ready and eager to start my college experience.
Seriously, it feels so good to finally look at Butler Library with a pang of nostalgia and not the dread I used to experience during finals week. Time sure does heal all wounds. Even academia-induced wounds.
• SHOPPING. Okay, no. Try as it might, but SF will never hold a candle to New York in this department. SF doesn’t have Uniqlo (…yet), MUJI, Fashion Week, or an abundance of sample sales. Or a legitimate equivalent of Soho.
Needless to say, I came to New York with a 20 pound suitcase and left with a 40 pounder that proved a bitch to lug up the stairs to my apartment.
• There’s no better place to watch football this side of the Atlantic. First off, I’m not going to ramble about the outcome of the Champions League final, because, as a diehard Bayern fan, it hurts. It really does. And I don’t ever want to see another photo of a devastated Bastian Schweinsteiger again (on my Tumblr dash or the news or anywhere), because no football player should ever have to experience that level of pain and heartbreak on their own home field.
All Bayern feelings aside, I will say that football watching in San Francisco just isn’t the same. Games are aired way too early in the morning (why are timezones so cruel to me!) for me to properly function, and I have yet to find a good pub in the Bay Area that airs Bundesliga/Champions League games like the big freaking deal that they are. But, hey, if anybody wants to correct me and introduce me to the football-watching culture in SF that I have obviously been ignorant about, feel free! Because watching the games at stupid o’clock on a low-quality torrent just doesn’t cut it, you know?
Anyway, I’ve sorely missed the feeling of being in a crowd of football enthusiasts. The yelling and cursing and screaming never gets old — and I swear, we’ll get that trophy one day. 🙂
• Nothing beats New York for museums. MoMA, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Natural History, the Whitney — and the mother of all museums, the Met.
If you’re ever in New York, check out the Impossible Conversations exhibit. The Prada and Schiaparelli displays are phenomenal stuff, and the curation is top-notch. I still drool over the Prada S/S ’08 collection, fyi, and seeing the dresses and shoes in person did not help.
• Koreatown and Karaoke.
Good food and singing at the top of your lungs to those pop songs you secretly, non-ironically love, at the expense of your voice? Hell yeah!
• The Great Googamooga happened.
If you’re not a foodie living in New York, you may be wondering, “The hell is a Googasdjkflasda?” Think of it as a glutton’s paradise, the Burning Man for your taste buds, a festival devoted entirely to food.
There were different food stalls where you could buy food/drinks from some of the best vendors/restaurants/trucks in the area: Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, Colicchio & Sons, Jean Georges, Brooklyn Soda Works, Momofuku, Red Rooster Harlem, Calexico … you name it! I realize that if you do not live in NY, these names probably mean absolutely jackshit to you — just take my word for it when I say that these are all things that are synonymous with mouth-watering, good food. We good? Bacon Flight, as you can see above, was a sampling of different bacon from all the BLT rock stars.
My friends and I got to the festival on the second day with the singular goal of pigging out. Trust me, I am ashamed at the level of gluttony I unlocked that day. In fact, I am still ashamed to the point where I have been stocking up on veggies to atone for the amount of meat that I had shamelessly devoured that day.
Screw Wheaties — this is the breakfast of champions!
Thai sausage from DBGB
Pork belly tacos from Colicchio & Sons
M. Wells‘ Horse Bologna and Foie Gras Grilled Cheese
Soft shell crab sandwich at Vinegar Hill House
Foie gras doughnut (YEAH, you heard me!) at Do or Dine
Verdict? Soft-shell crab sandwich was a winner. However, the foie gras offerings made me realize just how much I’ll miss foie gras when the California ban finally takes effect.
• FOOD. Yes, there was Googamooga, but even that doesn’t wholly account for the amount of hedonism my stomach has experienced. Let’s be honest — when I came up with a list of things to do for this visit, all of the items on the list were food related: go eat at Shake Shack, buy macarons at Ladurée, get chicken and rice at 53rd and 6th, etc. So if it’s a surprise to any of you that I spent the good majority of this trip eating, then we have probably never met before.
1. How cute is this Hello Kitty case?
You honestly have no idea of the level of jealousy-induced rage I experienced when I left New York back in the summer, only to hear that they were bringing Ladurée to Manhattan. The timing was a slap in the face — I could hear the echoes of New York all the way from California: “HAHAHAHA, this is what you get for leaving us, sucker!”. THE INJUSTICE. THE RAGE. THE UNFAIRNESS OF IT ALL, I seethed.
But if I can’t have the constant presence of Ladurée in my city, surely I can settle for a six-pack of macarons that I can bring home. It’s hardly a consolation prize, but who am I — who have I ever been — to pass up macarons? And if you must know, I got rose, cherry blossom, pistachio, fleur du sel caramel — among other flavors. Pity they didn’t have my all-time favorite flavor: licorice. 🙁
Also, another thing that I’ve taken for granted in New York is the fact that everything is open 24/7. In SF, it kind of blows when I’m craving a sandwich at 9pm (a perfectly reasonable dinner hour for a 20-something who tends to work a little late, mind you), only to find that the sandwich places close at 7pm. In NY, it’s never too early or too late to be taking public transportation, you don’t need a map to figure out where you are and how to get from point A to point B, you can hail a cab virtually anywhere without having to stand in a 45-minute queue and yell at the person behind you that you were first in line and therefore you get precedence (ugh, Caltrain), and you can walk down the street during the late night without having to bat a single eye or worrying that you’ll get chased down the street and harassed (ugh, true story). The sad thing is, I never realize how much I miss (or appreciate, even) those things until I’m already across the country.
“They talk about the reasons why they might leave —- there are many and they all are valid — which invariably include the desire to have more space, more bang for your buck, and needing to make healthier lifestyle choices. Maybe they’ll go through with it and leave it all behind. What they talk about when they talk about living in New York will be treated like a valuable faded Polaroid you always keep in your top drawer. Whatever happens with you and the city though, you’ll always regard it with a sense of fondness, and above all, feel lucky you got to experience it at all. Time has a way of removing the blemishes so after a certain point, you’ll have forgotten about the high rents and the lousy jobs and the tears you shed in public spaces, and choose to remember only the creamy delicious frosting on an otherwise stale and overpriced cake.” – What People Talk About When They Talk About Life In New York
So yeah, New York is an egocentric, self-aggrandizing city with an overly inflated sense of self-worth. It’s too crazy and it’s “not for everybody”, say people from the outside looking in. I’m not going to argue with that assessment, since, yes, it is a crazy city, and one that wholeheartedly believes that it’s the center of the universe. But for four years, it was the center of mine, and I think it still is, because even though I’ve lived in California for almost a year now, I still feel that odd sense of displacement whenever somebody brings up that city. I feel it, even now, as I’m typing this entry in the comfort of my apartment, 3,000 miles away.