Somehow, despite living 3.5 hours from New York City for 11 years, it took until this year to actually take the bus trip up there for a visit. DEAR GOD HOW EASY IT WAS!! Bolt Bus picks up literally 10 blocks from my office and it’s $50 round-trip. Usually when I go to New York I’m bypassing the city and going to Long Island and I often fly - last year took the train - so it took my younger coworkers to convince me that the bus really isn’t that difficult or scary to figure out. It also helps that I’ve developed multiple friendships over the past few years with people in the city, so they are certainly a motivating factor.
Back in April, I got a text from my friend John informing me that tickets for the Harry Potter exhibition at the New York Historical Society were going on sale and did we want to go. Todd’s response: “Is that even a question??” Clearly we were going.
Zoom to the end of October. I took a half day Friday and we pulled into New York City just before 5 with a bit of time to kill before heading down to Brooklyn to meet our friends. Being a nerd about all things landscape, I insisted on taking a walk along the Highline, the elevated railway on the west side of Manhattan that was turned into a park about 10 years ago. To me, it’s a work of art. A masterpiece. A lesson that you can make anything a beautiful space, even an abandoned rail line. You can still see hints at the park’s history, not only being up in the air, but with rails remaining in certain places and materials reminding you of its past. An abundance of native trees, shrubs, grasses and perennials are densely planted throughout and the colors mimic those of each season, tones of brown and rust dominating right now, but still some green remaining and purple asters adding a flash of brightness. The Highline makes me want to bow down in tribute to the designers and the staff that maintains it or raise my hands and praise the lord. Cue the gospel choirs for a moment!
After warming up with some tea at the delightfully named Underline, we headed off to Brooklyn to meet several friends for homemade pizza and wine. I think Todd might have been a bit overwhelmed by the 4 of us ladies as we animatedly raved on topics from Harry Potter to the best Trader Joe’s cheese to plant care to future plans to visit Pittsburgh. Several hours, and 4 bottles of wine, later we made our way back to the Upper East Side of Manhattan where we were staying with our friend Risa. Saturday’s main event was, of course, the Harry Potter History of Magic exhibition, which DID NOT DISAPPOINT!!!, an expertly curated exhibit including historic texts where JK got inspiration and the basis for much of the magical world including herbology, divination and charms, as well as some of the first drafts and sketches of the story. She is a goddess and a legend. Did you know that 7 or 8 publishers turned down the draft for Sorcerer’s Stone - let that be a lesson in persistence to all of us! In addition to HP and in spite of the rain, we toured some of New York’s best food - bagels, cookies, hot chocolate, pasta - took a walk through Central Park and along museum row and admired the best dogs of the Upper East Side. Since we are far from our days of raging, we had dinner at 5, a drink at a wine bar, then went back to Risa’s to watch Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by 8. Pretty much my perfect kind of trip.
Sunday was back down to Brooklyn for brunch at The Farm on Adderly, a farm to table restaurant I found while on my #localthirty month of eating, then we said goodbye to our friends and did some nature-inspired touring. It was my first visit to Prospect Park, which would be enough to make me want to move to New York if it weren’t so damn expensive (I looked up the prices of houses in Flatbush later and the cheapest one was being foreclosed for $1 million), and then the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. I think Todd has accepted that we will be visiting a garden in any city we go to (Asheville - check, Denver - check, Dublin - check, Stuttgart - check). I met a dog dressed in a lobster costume and saw a girl getting a horseback riding lesson - I might be able to die happy if I can ride a horse in New York City some day.
All in all it was an absolutely delightful trip and we will be heading back in just about a month with a whole bunch of friends from across the country. It can be hard having friends scattered about sometimes, because I miss them when we are apart, but when they love and are able to travel as much as I do, it just adds to the excitement of life because you never know where we will all end up.