There is no going to New York without eating breakfast in a god’s honest American Diner. Which is where you would have found us on our second morning: perusing a menu and revelling in the fact that eating pancakes WITH bacon wouldn’t be seen as weird in this magical place not called home.
…I won’t lie. I had a distinctly uncomfortable feeling as though I was carrying a football around in my belly for the rest of the morning, but it was worth it. Bacon. And Pancakes. That is all.
We then headed Uptown to the Natural History Museum, just about managing to duck inside as the first warm droplets of rain splashed down on the sidewalk. It’s one of those buildings that you can get lost in. Everywhere you look there is marble and giant replicas of impressive dinosaurs and mammoth bones bigger than the tallest man in the room. Sweeping staircases lure you onto one floor, plunge you down to the next, tease you up to the top until your head is spinning and you are so dizzy you have to take a seat. Which we did. Somewhere deep in the bowels of the building under a domed starry sky, listening to Whoopi Goldberg as she took us through space and time.
When I was a child, I used to dream of being an astronaut. My dad bought me a planetarium, with plastic planets that you could paint and fit onto spikes that stretched out from the torch-sun, and that you could spin around in orbits. It even came with a cap for the sun, with constellations on it that you could project onto your ceiling at night. The show we watched catapulted me into space and reminded me of that dream, zoomed me into the void to come face to face with those constellations I had cooed over as a child. It was incredible.
Funnily enough, when we exited, if anything we were more dizzy than when we had entered.
There was a beautiful tower somewhere on the ‘fossil floor’; a beautiful circular structure with curved benches that you could rest on. We took a pew and looked out over Central Park. How could anyone get tired of this view? It was just – and remains to this day – astounding to me that such a clear cut pocket of green can make such a unique and beautiful stamp on a city so big and so utterly consuming. It was as if I was watching the leafy green heart of the concrete body that is New York pulsing fiercely, churning out the life force of the city, pumping blood and oxygen through its veins.
That afternoon was a splash through the northern part of the park, ducking under trees for shelter and ultimately giving up and rushing, drenched, to a local bar where Ma settled in for a beer, and us two girls smacked our parched lips over an ice cold water.
It wasn’t until dusk, when the rain had stopped, the streets were dry, and our feet had stopped throbbing with pain, that we hopped on the metro like locals so as to clamber aboard a horse and carriage like tourists, and get a royal view of the park. We trotted past runners and cyclists and goggle eyed children, bouncing slightly on our velveteen seats, and waving like the Queen of England before we realised probably no one would get the reference.
And the day wasn’t over yet! We still made it to Ellen’s Stardust Diner, where we enjoyed our food whilst the waiters performed show songs, dancing on tables and shaking their collection hats for extra singing and dancing lessons. Each one of them were Broadway hopefuls, and I loved that they spent their evenings working to reach their dream, winning over the hearts of the customers and belting out their passions over mac and cheese. It was also the place where I had my first slice of red velvet cake, so naturally, I’m going to sing it’s praises.
The table to our left had four of the most friendly people I had ever met. They were all from Louisiana and were on a one day stopover between travelling – they’d been to Italy, Spain, France, and England, and were passing through the Big Apple on their way home. They told us fantastic stories about their travels and wished me a happy birthday over cake. One of the women told me to come back to the diner, that she had been three times and she loved it every time – and that I would one day see HER on Broadway. I can say with all the honesty in my heart, that I cannot wait for that day.
We rounded off the day with an evening at the very top of the Empire State Building. Yet another maze to pass through, the view once you get to the top speaks for itself. There is a reason it is a landmark of New York. And a reason it became one of the landmarks of our holiday.
For this one though, I’ll let the picture do the talking.
If you missed the other instalments of Life in a New York Minute and want to catch up, you can start with the very first page of the story here.