House sitter: arranged. Flights and lodging: booked. Vagabond shoes: packed.
For the first time in my life, I’m going to New York City.
Mind you, I am not suffering from “little town blues.” I’ve settled happily into my itty-bitty community, and I do not miss metropolitan life one bit.
Two months ago, my brothers and I started planning our trip from Seattle to Princeton, New Jersey, for Nanna’s memorial service. Our aunts, uncles and cousins will gather this coming weekend for a nice reunion lunch and then go to the cemetery for a ceremony in which her ashes will be interred next to those of my grandfather. It’ll be great to see everyone, but they’ll all head home before Monday.
As we considered flight dates, Jeff and his husband (my other brother), Roe, suggested that we consider taking a side trip rather than coming directly home to Washington after the quickie reunion. Philadelphia, the District of Columbia and New York City were all nearby, they pointed out — and we get back East so rarely.
I’ve been to Philly and D.C. before, and I have no desire to be anywhere near D.C. now, so I cogitated over NYC.
Both sides of my family have roots in upstate New York; my parents grew up in Niagara Falls, where they met in seventh grade. I visited that area innumerable times during my first few decades of life, and I love it there; yet I never had much of a hankering to see the City That Never Sleeps. (In my mind, that moniker has always belonged to Las Vegas — a town I don’t particularly care for.)
Still … there are some things in NYC that I’ve always wanted to see, and we have very dear cousins in Brooklyn who occasionally remind us that we have an open invitation to visit. If nothing else, I could look forward to extra time with them — and the opportunity to (finally!) see their home and meet their kitties.
So I messaged the guys back and went all-in on NYC. We decided on dates, bought our plane tickets and started our wish lists.
At the top of all of our lists was a Broadway show — but which one? “Hamilton”? “Tootsie”? “Dear Evan Hansen”? So many to choose from! “The Book of Mormon” won out, and we quickly ordered tickets for one of the nights we’d be in town.
Once that was done, we put our lists together and built day-plans that incorporated as many common items as we deemed feasible in the time we had. We intend to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, visit the 9/11 Memorial, enjoy the view from atop the Empire State Building and more — sampling lots of tasty food in between.
The only item we strongly disagreed on was the Metropolitan Museum of Art: The guys were dead set on spending the better part of a day there, and I am just not a museum person. We reached an easy compromise, though: The Met faces Central Park, which I will blissfully spend a day exploring while they immerse themselves in art appreciation!
A couple of weeks ago, after we’d finalized most of our plans, Roe found out the opening ceremonies for WorldPride (celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots) were being held in Brooklyn the day before we were set to fly home. He messaged me: Did I want to go? Let me think: a once-in-a-lifetime event, with Whoopi Goldberg hosting? Heck yeah! We immediately canceled our booking for a Harbor dinner cruise that evening and bought tickets for this instead. (We’ll hop a ferry to see Lady Liberty on a different day.)
And it continues to get better: We just discovered this week that the Airbnb we booked is only a few blocks from our cousins’ home — easy walking distance for visiting. We couldn’t have planned that better if we’d tried.
So, after half a century of apathy toward the Big Apple, I’m totally looking forward to this trip. The food, the sights, the experience — I want to be a part of it!
Kat Bryant is lifestyle editor of The Daily World and editor of Washington Coast Magazine. She’s secretly hoping her NYC experience won’t include a mugging. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at Kat Bryant-DailyWorld.