Last week the wife and I cleared the family van out and hit the road for a 12-hour trek to New York City from our Midwest abode. This wasn’t really a pleasure trip, as we were going out to load up our oldest and her belongings and move her back to Indiana after a successful internship thru the New York Arts Program. Though we were only going to be out there Thursday and Friday and leave Saturday morning we’d decided to try and see a few things while we were in the Big Apple.
We definitely saw a few things.
My wife and younger daughter moved our oldest out east back in January, so this was my first time hitting NYC in over 20 years. In January the Hubner women had a nice time. It was still pretty quiet as shutdowns were still going on, so their walks to Central Park and the museums and dinner were pretty calm with plenty of elbow room. Well the city that never sleeps, and that had been in a pretty unnatural nap since March of 2020, was starting to wake the hell up by the time we hit last Thursday. The beast was yawning, not quite spitting fire, but the rumblings of the big city were apparent.
We arrived in NYC Thursday morning to overcast skies and rain, after a comfortable albeit short sleep in Allentown, PA. We’d rolled into Allentown around 8:30, which made the day a nice, butt-numbing 12-hour excursion(thanks to wrecks on I-80 and getting lost being re-routed in Amish country.) First thing we did was pick up our daughter then headed to the hotel to check in. We were quite a bit early, but thanks to my wife being an IHG member it wasn’t a problem(membership has it’s privileges.) After checking in we hit up some bistro just down from our hotel and had the most expensive brunch I’ve ever encountered. It was tasty, but an egg and bacon flatbread pizza shouldn’t breach the $20 mark(we’re not in Indiana anymore, Toto.) Still, any chance to enjoy hollandaise sauce I’m in. And how often am I eating in Manhatten? Like, never.
After dropping a chunk of change at the bistro we took the subway to MoMA(Museum of Modern Art in case you don’t have Google on your planet) and spent three hours in awe. I’m far from an art enthusiast. I’m painfully inept at knowing artists, I just know what I like when I see it. But being in there, man I felt it. I felt the weight of it all. From well known artists(Warhol, Chagall, Van Gogh), to obscure artists that never got their due when alive(look up Henry Darger.) I mean, I’d probably guess most artists never got their due while alive. Most died in poverty and left behind works that were discovered in back rooms, storage, or hidden in closets only to be appreciated after the artist was long buried in a pauper’s grave. At least, that’s what I’m guessing anyways.
There was a lot I didn’t “get”. Some seemed pretentious, but for the most part I found a new love for names like Edvard Munch, Frantisek Kupka, Francis Bacon, Norman Lewis, and the aforementioned Henry Darger. Plus, it was amazing seeing works by Jackson Pollack, Pablo Picasso, Van Gogh, and Marc Chagall up close. MoMA was an absolute highlight.
We had pizza at a place not too far from the museum. Ate outside which was nice. Pizza was good, but I’ll always be a Chicago deep dish fan. New York’s got nothing in Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s.
Friday we hit up Katz’s Deli. This was the deli where they shot the famous “I’ll have what she’s having” scene in When Harry Met Sally. Of course I got a half Reuben and a bowl of Matzah ball soup. I love a good deli and Katz’s did not disappoint. We used to hit up Shapiro’s Deli in Indianapolis back in the day, so this was a nice, nostalgic trip down pastrami lane.
After lunch we took the subway to Brooklyn where we hit up Captured Tracks’ record shop. Captured Tracks is one of my favorite record labels, so to be able to peruse their store and buy some NYC wax was an absolute thrill for me. My wife and daughter chose to sit out on the stoop as it was a little warm in there, plus it’s not a big shop anyways. We headed to Williamsburg to the Nitehawk Cinema to see Minari, which was amazing. The cinema is independently owned, so the previews were of old films and ads were weird ones from the 70s. Like John Waters telling everyone there was no smoking in the theater, and commercials for menthol cigarettes from the 50s(Doctor Recommended.)
I loved the vibe of the cinema. They served food and drinks, which I helped myself to an Old Fashioned. It was a much deserved break from the hustle bustle of the city.
I must point out that my daughter had become quite the Metropolitan navigator. She got us thru the subway system with ease, and catching the bus in Brooklyn with no problem. I would not have ventured more than a few blocks from the hotel. I’m just not built for the big city. So the fact that our oldest acclimated so well to her surroundings allowed my wife and I to see a part of NYC we wouldn’t have otherwise.
We got up early Saturday morning and I went down the street and grabbed us a couple coffees. We were off and got to our daughter’s apartment by 8:15am. She made four or five trips bringing her stuff down while my wife cruised the block and I stood with the totes, boxes, and rolled up area rug. Once everything was down my wife double parked in front of the apartment(seems to be something a lot of folks do in NYC) and we loaded the van for the 12-hour trip home. By 9:45am we made our way out of the dragon’s belly and were on our way back to the quiet, backwards thinking of the Midwest.
Of course, I could tell you all about after we left Katz’s Deli on Friday that my wife missed the curb trying to keep up with my daughter, fell, and gave herself a black eye. Or that when we made it back to the hotel that night my sister-in-law called to tell us that our 17-year old was in a car wreck(she wasn’t driving and was okay, just bruised up a bit.) Or that on Saturday morning as my wife sat double-parked on a Manhatten street she forgot to turn off the headlights and the battery died(my daughter’s friend’s dad was there loading her up and thankfully gave us a jump.) Or I could tell you about the guy in the subway station masturbating for all to see.
I could’ve told you all of that as well, but what would be the point?
I think of myself as a pretty open-minded guy. Maybe not as progressive as the Che Guevara t-shirt-wearing crowd, but I want everyone to be able to live their lives how they want to live them. And I want folks that need help to get help, from the Govt or otherwise(and using my tax money for that is what it’s for.) But I gotta tell you, I’m not built for the great concrete jungle. It’s too loud, too busy, and way too many smells. As much as I complain about the Midwest, at least someone in my tax bracket can survive here. I raised three kids as a homeowner and car owner and never needed assistance of any kind. We may have scrimped and saved, but we did it. Living in NYC I’d be at the poverty level(or well below.) I’m good with being an hour or two away from the closest big city. I own a car that I can drive there in and visit, then turn around and drive back home to my rural life. I dig culture and museums and concerts and plays and bright lights and record shops with “ambient” sections. But I’m good with a few miles between them and me. If you’ve got the moxie for the big city, my hat’s off to you. Cause I don’t.
But this adventure wasn’t mine. It was my daughter’s adventure. I merely popped in for the final couple pages of it. I was just a footnote while she finalized the ending, and I think she found a good one. I’m excited to see what her next adventure will be.
But if it’s in NYC, she can hire a rental company for the next move.