And when your first trip to "big city" coincides with Black Friday, well, multiple that by like a million. I was a fish out of water in the manner of Will Ferrell in Elf, minus those garish yellow tights and love of pre-chewed gum of course.
Even though it's been almost nine years now, I still remember being on the verge of a claustrophobic fit smack dab in the middle of an H&M. Simply put, I'd never been sandwiched between that many hungry bargain hunters before, and I was struggling to breathe.
After unsuccessfully navigating the sale racks (in oh-so-cute but nasty blister-giving shoes to boot), my friend Adrian took pity on me and decided to introduce me to all the touristy must-sees instead.
So for the better part of two days, we hit up Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Ground Zero and the Empire State Building, not to mention a holiday performance from those fierce kicking Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall.
Basically, short of wearing one of those ubiquitous I ♥ New York t-shirts, I was every local's worst nightmare.
After checking all the iconic sites off my list, we then indulged my love of all things pop culture by taking the "Seinfeld" bus tour complete with Junior Mints, a drive by the café that Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer frequented and a visit to the Soup Nazi's domain, where he almost denied me the bread to go with my minestrone because I didn't move to the left fast enough after ordering.
Last but certainly not least, I was given a crash course in the art of haggling for the best price on Louis Vuitton knock-offs . While they looked anything but authentic, I simply had to have a purse since the real thing is like $1,400. But after I was labeled "much too eager," hence an amateur, by my street-savvy friend, I settled for a fuzzy pink winter hat instead (don't ask).
All in all, that late November excursion was a great introduction to all things NYC, but I still couldn't wait for the city to feel a little more like home the next time around.
Thankfully, my second journey to Manhattan two years ago went a whole lot smoother. I was in town for all of 48 hours for a movie junket, so there was no time for frivolity. Still, I had a few free hours to walk around and explore (and yes, I actually learned my lesson and wore quasi-sensible shoes), so I made sure to do just that.
Let's just say I think the Upper East Side and I got along just fine, and thanks to a cozy Italian meal at this cute little local bistro, the people watching was superb, too—always a total bonus when you're a writer in want of inspiration.
But of all my visits to NYC, the third time was totally the charm. Not only was it Will and my first time there together, but I actually (gasp!) felt like I belonged there...
More on that in the next blog post, I promise. Unfortunately, this post is already getting a little long, and I wouldn't want your eyes to glaze over from reading and reading and reading. It's Memorial Day weekend, after all, so consider that my gift to you. :)
Until next time...