Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A City To Remember

There is nothing like the loud noises, crowds, and sirens of NYC. Flying into Newark Airport and taking the train directly to that heart of Manhattan, Herald Square, during prime tourist season, was probably not the way to immediately reinspire my love of the city. Happily however, my amazing college friend who visited me in Paris this fall, met me at the airport and escorted me to some food and drinks with her and her boyfriend. This was the first of many meetings this weekend, a mad dash to see all of my beloved New York City compatriots before they too went on the road for holiday festivity. Friday I saw two friends from my restaurant days in Astoria for Thai food, my best friend and most recent roommate in Brooklyn for coffee near Bloomingdales, and ended the day having dinner with another amazing college friend in the East Village. Saturday I was allowed the privilege of watching my nephew for several hours while my brother and sister-in-law went to a double feature. My whole trip has been wonderfully sprinkled with love from my two-year-old nephew, who calls me "Auntie La" and continually floors me with me with his brilliance. Saturday night I had dinner with another college friend at a traditional New York steakhouse, one of my quintessentially favorite American meals, after which I met up with an ex-student/now good friend for drinks in trendy TriBeCa. Though I had been gradually losing my voice since my arrival, it wasn't until I could barely get words out over blasting music and was falling asleep in my cocktail that I realized how potentially ill I was. Sunday I had an amazing brunch with the fam in Brooklyn, followed by a preparatory trip to Whole Foods for Christmas Eve holiday fare. My sister-in-law and I had grand ambitions to bake tons of homemade cookies, but were so taken by some adorable Christmas tree shaped pastries in the bakery section that we threw caution to the wind and splurged on daintily decorated treats. Sunday night I met with two of my best city friends, one from college and one from NYC, for our annual "Holiday" meal at Otto in the West Village. Quick sidenote: I use the word holiday with care, since while I was sweetly tucked in Paris away from the current political implications, I had no idea that "Merry Christmas" had turned into such a phrase of obscenity. Without rolling my eyes TOO much at America's neverending need to make a hot bed of controversy out of a casual remark, I must admit that in a world of hunger and homelessness, it seems rather profoundly silly to be fighting over a phrase originally meant to spread good cheer. But I digress... Though filled with delightful ambience and scrumptious food, it was at Otto where I finally realized how sick I had become, as a result of jet lag, exhaustion, dehydration, and global warming (70 degrees in December). I managed to throw up in the restaurant then twice more over the course of the restless evening... Sigh... A bit disappointed that seeing all of my amazing soul-mate friends in NYC required fighting through voluminous amounts of sinus goo, I am thrilled to have made such wonderful rounds about the city. It almost felt like a dream, wandering through places I know so well, seeing friends I have missed but who felt as if nothing remotely had changed since my departure. I must admit that while I miss my beloved friends and family daily and am happy to be visiting the Big Apple, I do not feel pangs of homesickness or longing to stay. As my one friend pointed out, how much closer to happiness can you really be? And while I am thrilled to report that I seem to be feeling slightly better today, my hope is that I can indulge in all of the Christmas Eve and Day fixin's aheadin' my way...

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