When you recall your travel experiences, how far back does your memory really hold? Not just being able to recite a list of the famous monuments and buildings you saw, but the real memory- the ability to recollect and be transported back to a moment or place. It’s been 15 years since I visited New York City, but looking through some old photos and keepsakes brought back vivid memories of not only the things I saw, but that feeling of being there. The awe of experiencing what was before just an abstract…a famous place from books and movies. I’ll be visiting NYC again in late 2016, so I thought it was a good time to revisit my previous trips.
In 2001 I traveled to the city twice- once during cold, gray March and again a few months later in hot, humid August. It was very strange to see the famous city twice in such a short time, but with radically different weather. Time has blended the two trips in my mind and leaves me with overlapping memories of opposite climates. Small moments stick with me, like exploring mid town at 5:30AM on our first morning in the city, as the streets were still empty and the fluffy snow flakes fell around St Patrick’s Cathedral.
I remember walking through the tall green trees of the Central Park Mall with the birds singing and the sun warming my bare arms. Dodging kids on skateboards and stumbling across Bethesda Fountain just in time to see all the dog walkers meet up there to let the pups have a splash in the water.
I remember standing on the interior deck of the Empire State building and staring out over the city. Gazing towards downtown and seeing the World Trade Center in the distance, and then looking down to see icicles hanging above the tiny yellow cabs in the grimy slush far below.
I remember walking around with the boundless energy of youth – barely out of my teens – walking dozens and dozens of blocks like it was nothing, snapping photos with a terrible 35mm camera. From the The Metropolitan Museum of Art to Times Square to Little Italy. From the Bowery to Bloomingdale’s to the Natural History Museum on the Upper West Side. So much to explore, and the impulse to keep going and going.
We kept stopping into record shops and book stores like Strand and Bleeker Street Records, and taking breaks at neighborhood coffee shops. The places with old school local regulars, 1950’s linoleum and cracked Corelle mugs. Fueling up on cheap hash browns, eggs and caffeine, and getting into the habit of buying a black&white cookie and bottle of Poland Springs water to go. Do these places still exist in Manhattan? Have they all been replaced with sleek ultra trendy places I’ll be too shy to visit? I kept this menu from a diner we visited near the New York Public Library on 5th Avenue…I’m sure the prices have certainly changed! It will definitely be interesting to see what other changes the city will reveal.