My first trip to New York was nothing like my second trip, which I just returned from.
My first trip was planned with a friend for an upcoming long weekend back in 2003. The only person I knew in New York, my cousin, was going to be away but graciously let me stay in her apartment on 57th and 7th across the street from Carnegie Hall, a location I could only squeal about. I was excited about my first time in New York, though it was not even two years after 9-11 and I knew it wouldn’t be the New York so many others saw before me.
Perhaps you’ve heard me speak about Life Lists & things I want to do before I die (if you haven’t, you really need to read my When I Have Time post about how to create and why to have a Life List) but going to New York fulfilled one of my goals: see more of the US’ big cities. After visiting almost 20 countries there were still some big cities in my own country I hadn’t visited (to this day, I have yet to see Boston).
So, when on the morning my flight to New York was set to leave, my friend had to cancel due to some family problems, I was crushed. I was ready to see New York, but I wasn’t ready to be there alone. I have no problems doing things alone (I went to school in Texas without knowing a single person, the same for moving to Italy) but I had planned this weekend to be with a girlfriend.
Needless to say, when I took off several hours later, there was a new plan, and it was just as great. Though I spent most of the first day alone, having a great time wandering through downtown and walking from 5th street back to my apartment, I wouldn’t be alone the whole time. My mother dropped everything, and we spent the next 3 days doing exactly what we wanted and nothing more. We saw a few museums, very few tourist monuments, and lots and lots of Broadway! Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida, the original cast of Thoroughly Modern Millie, and one of my favorite plays, Into the Woods.
That New York trip ended up being a success, but it left an unfinished taste in my mouth so I knew I’d be back.
My second trip to New York was quite the opposite of the first: I was heading there for work, and I would be joined by my best girlfriends for a belated birthday weekend. I had some great friends load me up with suggestions for places to eat and things to do, including favorites from American chef in Paris and a pastry chef in New York, and I left with even less pressure than last time to be a tourist. I only spent a half-day alone the entire 9 days there, and I was so jet-lagged I didn’t know where I was anyway.
This trip ended up being a mixture of work, play, and eating during both, naturally. From meeting incredible individuals through WordCamp NYC, to others through colleagues and friends, and also through this very blog; to a slew of food-and-shopping pilgrimages to various locations with inevitable disappointments and some surprises with lots and lots of toasting, too. We had two birthdays to celebrate!
My one must-see for the trip was to visit every photographer’s mecca, B&H Photo Video. On a quiet Sunday morning before WordCamp NYC started, I waited in line with 100s of other hopeful buyers and really took advantage of my very helpful salesperson and loaded up my shopping cart (or conveyor belt as those who have been there know). I walked out of there with exactly the camera I wanted, a few other things I didn’t know I needed, and I left behind a lot of things I wanted but saved for NYC trip #3.
It’s now 3.5 years after I bought my first DSLR, and back then I didn’t know much about how to use it but I pulled myself up by a combination of reading the manual (RTFM, really) and various photography sites, experimenting and making fantastic mistakes. Now I feel like I’ll have to start yet again with this new camera. It has so many features and settings and feels familiar though it’s so different, that I’m going to have to dedicate quite a bit of time before I get back to the comfort level I had with my camera before.
But I’m really looking forward to it.
I can’t wait to feel the joy of sneaking a chance snapshot of something that turns into a keepsake,
of setting up a shot of a friend at the perfect time of day so the light reflects just so,
of whipping out the camera and with a few flicks and clicks it’s an extension of you,
and just playing around with a machine until it’s a natural form of my self-expression.
Yep, I’m looking forward to it. And I’ll be back for more of you too, New York.
Do you have a love or hate affair with New York? Have you been? Will you go back?