This past October, I decided to solo trip to NYC. It started in July, when Julien Baker released her tour dates. There was one in Boston, but I decided that I wanted to see the one in NYC because I had only been once with a high school group and Rhode Island is a lot closer to New York than Texas is. Cue the frantic airbnb searching and bus ticket buying. I ended up booking a two night stay on the Upper West Side in a room on a five floor walk up, my bus tickets, and my concert ticket for under two hundred dollars. Let’s talk about a steal (or just luck and good planning ahead).
Friday / Day One
I ended up arriving at Port Authority around noon, but my check-in wasn’t until 3, so food was obviously the first priority. I had just gotten off a three hour bus ride and was running on zero, but I bought a metropass and rode up to 72nd street. A quick stop into a deli was needed because that was pretty cliche New York and I was going to do cliche this weekend.
I ended up walking to a small park to eat with the plans of painting a little bit, but it was here that I realized in all of my backpack’s heavy glory, the one art supply forgotten was a paintbrush. Instead, I called my dad and clued him in on what was happening even though I had been reminding him about this trip since July (“you’re by yourself?!”).
Once I killed enough time walking around, I came around to my airbnb and grabbed the key from a mailbox. Five flights later, I opened the door to the two most adorable cats, but only one was happy to see me. My room was closed off and the bed was a couch, but my dorm bed is way worst than that let me tell you. I dropped off my things and spent some time freshening up before heading out for the concert which happened to be right next to, if not in, Times Square.
Times Square was everything I remembered from my high school trip - busy and very overwhelming. I ducked into a few stores and even ended up buying a pair of jeans from Forever 21, but I found myself wanted to get out of there after not too long. There was something compelling about so many people, but it was almost time for the concert now, so I ducked into a restaurant and ate a lovely meal and talked with the couple next to me who were celebrating 30 years of marriage that night. And yes, I did ask them to take my picture after I took theirs.
The concert. It almost feels like I blacked out and it never happened. Not that I don’t remember it, but it just doesn’t feel like it really happened because I had been waiting so long for it. The whole night was beautiful. Petal is a brilliant project, Half Waif is immensely talented, but Julien Baker is a star. I have never been to such a silent concert before, I could hear the person next to me breathing, Hell, I could hear myself breathing. Everyone was just so entranced by her and her words and her vulnerability, I can’t even describe the moment. It was an honor to get to see her perform on the night of her album release, it just made the moment even more special.
Afterwards, it was late and I was buzzing, so I grabbed an uber and stopped at the corner market by my airbnb to grab a decaf coffee. I spent the next couple of hours sleepily looking at all of the pictures I had taken.
Saturday / Day Two
Saturday started off with a cookie for breakfast from Levain Bakery. If you find yourself near one, I would suggest going early in the morning before the long line forms outside, picking up a chocolate chip and walnut for yourself, and having dessert for breakfast a couple blocks down in Central Park. The walking counteracts the huge cookie, right?
I won’t bore you with the details of the next six hours because they were all spent at the MET, but I got to see my favorite Van Gogh painting with my own two eyes and even met someone else from Texas who took my picture like a proper tourist. No regrets.
After I felt like I had my fill of the beautiful scenery (seriously, I spent ages in each room even the guards were sick of me), I went to the other place that I had really wanted to go which was Chelsea Market. It was a bit of a subway journey, but I eventually found my way there after three transfers. Chelsea Market is kind of like a permanent farmer’s market with restaurants, specialty stores, but it’s also the home to Food Network and growing up with the Food Network on the television 70% of the time, it felt like a right of passage.
I couldn’t really purchase anything because of the startling lack of storage in my backpack, but it was really nice to just walk around looking at everything and enjoy Asian fusion tacos.
My last night in NYC had to be cliche and it had to be memorable, so I went to the TKTS booth in Times Square and picked up a discount ticket to Anastasia: The New Musical. It was absolute magic, like my childhood being replayed, but so much better than I remembered.
Before I called it a night, I did stop for some late night street food. Because it felt like the proper thing to do.
Sunday / The Last Morning
The morning of heartbreak. This was by far the most frustrating part of the trip. Me, being homesick and desperate, traveled to Brooklyn before my bus ride home to find Topo Chico. Yes, I left early and everything for sparkling water that was promised at a kolache place. Texas kolaches and Topo Chico in the same place?! It felt too good to be true! That’s because it was.
I went all the way to Brooklyn in the pouring rain to find out that they were out of Topo Chico. Could this have been avoided if I called? Yes, but not the point. Were the kolaches still lovely? Yes, but not the same.
After the kolache incident, my New York City adventure was over. It was everything I imagined it'd be - frustrating and busy and magical and exciting. It was practically calling my name to visit again before I had even left. But Port Authority was waiting. Rhode Island was waiting.