1. I am not nearly as tough as I thought. Sure, the New Yorkers that I ran into were nice — especially when in a one-on-one situation. But between the absolute panic that was pulsating through my body and the tryin’-to-look-hard thing I was doing so I didn’t appear lost or scared, I realized in there that I was just not tough. All I wanted to do when I was in Times Square was look up to the heavens, pray to the baby Jesus that he would not only freeze time for a moment, but would also send a heavenly helicopter to airflight us THE HELL OUT OF THERE. Instead, we had to hoof it for several blocks trying to find our way out of there.
2. I am not a city girl. Well, not a BIG city girl. I sparkly-heart Atlanta and I really am much more myself when I’m in an area where everything is super close and accessible. I don’t like having to drive fifteen minutes to get to the grocery store and I don’t ever want to live in farm land. I thought this made me a city girl. But I am not one… Sorry to disappoint you all. Devon made a good point to me today, “You are in your settling down space, in your Saturn Return… It makes sense that New York didn’t woo you right now.” A few years ago, I probably would have taken to it effortlessly. Instead, I feel like I never want to go back there again.
3. Being short in NYC puts you at a particularly unfortunate disadvantage. I couldn’t get a cab, I couldn’t get respect. People were running over Harrison left and right. Like, SERIOUSLY! THAT’S MY KID, ASSHOLES.
4. I spent 24 hours in the city and I could already tell that it was chipping away at my sunshiney heart. Now, right… Okay, okay. So maybe I don’t have a real sunshiney heart. But I felt noticeable more gruff, more rude and more bent out of shape than I have felt in a long time.
5. Do not go into the M & Ms store in Times Square. No matter how much your child begs you. DO NOT. Sure, you can get this awesome rainbow of M & Ms, that’s cool. But it’s $12/POUND! They give you these giant bags — like the size you’d get for two pounds of whole bean coffee — and if you filled it up, it would easily be five or six pounds of candy. The people in there were… AGGRESSIVE. Probably the rudest I came across. And it is WALL TO WALL people and shit every where. And the best part? Cyndi Lauper and Prince busting through the speakers and near-deafening levels. Seriously?
6. Don’t stare at the rats in the subway. Don’t talk about them either. If your super-comfy sneakers (how in the WORLD are women walking around the city in heels?) and your backpack aren’t giving you away as a tourist, talking about the rats in the subway will do the trick. The kid loved them, thought they were cute and wanted to give me the play-by-play of their activities as they scurried along the puddles and into the cracks and crevasses under the tracks.
7. Don’t pack a rolling suitcase. Actually, don’t pack much at all. In all my ins and outs on the train, I never saw an escalator or an elevator. What do all the handicapped people do in NYC? Or the old people? Or the people with stupid, over-stuffed rolling suitcases? Lugging that motherfucker up stairs was NOT.FUN.AT.ALL. If I ever do this again, I’d rather re-wear shirts and stink a little than over-pack. Seriously.
8. My son might be tougher than me. He was completely at ease in the city… Totally not bothered by the tsunami of people pushing and pulling at you, threatening to pull you under the surface. I was gripping his hand like nobody’s business partly because I was so afraid of losing him in that great big place but also because I NEEDED AN ANCHOR. And he was fine. Loved it, even. Thought Times Square was one of the most fun places EVER. I’m still a little twitchy from the experience.
9. My experience is a bit tainted because it was a) my first time and b) I had my son with me. If I ever manage to summon the courage to go to NYC again, I will do it without my child and I will go and stay with a friend. I will also stay VERY, VERY far away from crowds. VERY.
10. Don’t tell cab drivers where you’re going before you get in their cabs. Just get the fuck in and THEN tell them where you want to go. Mo’fo, if I’m willing to pay you $12 to drive me fifteen blocks, you need to just do it. Dammit.
11. Stay with friends. Hotels are STUPID expensive in NYC. Even if you have to go stay out in Queens or the Bronx or Brooklyn and hoof it into the city to do all the things you want to do, it’s worth it. Hotels are nice and all, but I prefer coming “home” to somebody, especially after the city beat me up all day.
12. Make your itinerary and then crumple it up and throw it away. Yes, I think I saved time by buying some of our tickets ahead of time (at the Museum of Natural History) but we never ended up making it to the Empire State Building and you have to buy those tickets for the day you’re trying to go — so, money wasted. Figure out what is the MOST important thing that you want to do and make it happen. Don’t plan to do more than two or three things a day. It will take you almost as long to GET there as you will spend there.
13. If you start in Philly, take the Chinatown bus. There’s a few to choose from and tickets are HELLA cheap. We were able to get seats on a nearly empty bus to NYC for only $10. It only took us an hour and a half and we left Philly around noon.
14. DO NOT TAKE THE CHINATOWN BUS FROM NY. It is the stupidest, most competitive thing I’ve ever seen. I was not able to get a seat NEXT to my own freakin’ son and none of the heartless assholes on the entire bus were willing to give up their precious window seat so that I could sit with him. Instead, we sat across an aisle from each other (could have been worse, I know, but dammit!) and he kept looking at me with sad little, “OMG MOM I WANT YOU” eyes the entire time. It also took us about two and a half hours AND the train takes you to Canal Street and you have to walk TEN BLOCKS THROUGH CHINATOWN to get to where the buses pick you up to take you back to Philly. NOT WORTH IT.
15. Bring twice as much money as you think you’re going to need to spend. Trust me. Everything is more expensive and, if that wasn’t enough, the fucking taxes in Manhattan were enough to send me into shock. Have a back-up plan (savings account or friend to mooch off of a bit) or you will dry up all your resources.
16. Skip the Central Park Zoo. Seriously, lamest zoo ever. We waited in line as long we spent in the zoo — max, a half an hour, 45 minutes. DO the Museum of Natural History and plan to spend about five hours there. We only had about three, I regret not getting to see everything.
17. Give yourself time to just walk around little outlying boroughs and explore. We did this a little bit over on the east side of Central Park and it was really beautiful. I wish we had done this in more neighborhoods. New York is really a beautiful place if you stop looking at things right in front of your face and start looking at the buildings.
I’ve got a lot more to write about this trip… This adventure, really… But I’m exhausted and cranky and really needing a solid night’s sleep. More soon.