“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to ones courage.” – Anaïs Nin
Well, readers, it’s already been another month, and it is officially holiday season in New York. We’ve all seen it in movies, read about it in books, heard about it in songs….but to live it, that’s another experience altogether. I feel privileged to have a unique perspective of the holiday magic because I spend my days literally walking among it, embraced by the cold wind, and music that seems to float through the air no matter where I am.
Our new normal since living in the city has been finding new and amazing things all the time. New and amazing food, places, people, experiences. This is the first month since I got here that I’ve had some bitter thrown in with the sweet. Yes, NYC is wonderful and exciting and everything you could hope it would be. But I’m slowly discovering things that make my stomach twist with an unexpected pang of homesickness, and talking about the bad stuff is important too.
For instance, grocery shopping here is just….not fun. Maybe it’s just my neighborhood, but the few stores I’ve tried have narrow, cramped aisles, and there are no carts because a cart would not fit in the aisle. You can tote a basket on wheels. The stores are smelly, like cat litter. And there seems to be no logical order to the way things are organized. The only semblance of organization I’ve found is they’ve separated refrigerated, and non-refrigerated items. Also walking home half a mile with 8 heavy bags on each arm is a unique form of torture.
The cat-calling is out of hand. I walk for a living, so passing by construction sites has become something of a nightmare for me. I’ve also been followed more than once. I expected to feel wary walking alone in the darkness late at night, but in broad daylight? Men actually shout vulgar things at you at 10am? Yes. And they feel zero shame about it. They also feel zero shame about stalking you back to whatever building you go into. However, this negative thing has inspired something positive: I’m going to learn Krav Maga. I’ll be an Atomic Blonde in no time.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to formally retract a statement I made in a previous post about the subways being “not that bad.” I’ve experienced enough morning, evening, and late night rush hours by now to have a proper amount of bitterness settle in my shiny, optimistic heart. I’ve been coughed on, fallen asleep on, uncomfortably hot, and uncomfortably cold. I’ve been nearly kicked in the face from the “performers”, and do not even get me started on riding the train home during the school’s out rush hour. Was I that annoying in middle school? How do parents ever survive this phase of life? I would post a photo, but usually in these scenarios the train car is so packed I cannot lift my arm to eye level to take a photo.
The last, and worst thing: homesickness. It’s finally settled in. I’ve never spent a holiday season away from my family, which makes me so lucky, and so fortunate, and now that I don’t have that I’m feeling a bit blue. I am thankful for the gifts modern technology grants me, like FaceTime and Google Duo but….if you aren’t there to eat a no-thank-you bite of green bean casserole and fight with your sisters, did Thanksgiving really happen? I’m going with no.
Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I’ll tell you about some of the awesome stuff we’ve been up too lately. We went to a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden, it was ridiculously fun. I loved feeling such strong camaraderie with so many New Yorkers. There’s something about shoveling expensive nachos in your face while cheering on your team that really gets you in the spirit of things. Also, instead of a Kiss Cam, they did an “Awkward Dad Dance” cam. It was everything and it gave me life (and also made me miss my awkward dad.) It was Nick and I’s first time at Madison Square Garden, we can’t wait to go back.
We went to the Winter Village at Bryant Park, and it was pure magic. There were tons of local vendors selling unique, handmade items and the food was absolutely to die for. I had fried chicken wrapped in a waffle cone and smothered in delicious sauce from Chick’nCone, and Nick and I shared a mouthwatering Raclette sandwich from a little german hut. For those of you not familiar with this smelly treat, they have a large wheel of cheese being heated over a small oven from which they scrape melted cheese onto your sandwich. That’s right. It’s everything you think it is, and more. There’s also an adorable little ice skating rink, Christmas music, and all the hot apple cider and chocolate your heart could desire. Speaking of hot chocolate, we discovered the most mind-blowingingly delicious hot chocolate that has ever existed, or will ever exist. It’s from a charming little company called No Chewing Allowed, and let me tell you: this chocolate has ruined my life. It has ruined my life because no chocolate for the rest of my days will compare to THIS chocolate. I will lay awake at night craving it, I will dream Augustus Gloop dreams of it, and I will be spending a healthy portion of my paycheck to keep my pantry stocked with their classic truffles and hot chocolate mix. Do yourself a favor, and buy some online. You won’t regret it. (I’m not famous or popular enough to be asked to sponsor a company, but this is not a sponsored post, I literally just love it that much. Where was this on Oprah’s 2017 list?!)
Prepare yourself The Office fans, because I’m about to tell you I met Jenna Fischer. She recently released an inspiring, funny, motivational book called The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide, and happened to be doing a book signing at the Barnes and Noble in Chelsea, a neighborhood I walk dogs in. Upon learning this, I immediately went to Barnes and Noble and snagged Nick and I wristbands to her Author Read. It was packed with people, but we got good seats, and we got so many amazing insider Office details. For instance, her favorite season is Season 2. Her favorite Jim and Pam moment is when they shared a grilled cheese on the roof. She is just as lovely and hilarious as Pam herself, it was an amazing experience to meet her and have my book signed.
The last, and my favorite thing we did this month, was have dinner at Rolfs. It was Thanksgiving, I was feeling depressed about being away from my family, and Nick had been working all day. I had a great time watching the parade and dog show with Marshall, but it just wasn’t the same, you know? So Nick and I made reservations at Rolfs, being famously known for its over-the-top Christmas decorations. A more accurate description would be: over, under, and on every conceivable surface Christmas decorations. It was packed with people waiting to order dinner from their special Thanksgiving menu, merry drunken laughter mingled with the holiday tunes, and I felt immediately like Santa himself had just enveloped me in a bear hug. I didn’t feel like I was in New York anymore, I was in some magical Christmas wonderland in Germany. I had a big glass of Gluhwein and the Schnitzel, Nick had a tall beer and some turkey, and we were the happiest lonely people in New York. Despite being hectic and busy, the staff was friendly, helpful, and quick. The food was delicious, and our drinks were perfection. If ever you are in New York and need to feel the twinkle of Christmas cheer in your heart, please go to Rolfs. It will make you feel like a kid again.
And that brings us to present day. In spite of all the wonderful things we are constantly experiencing in this amazing city, I can’t help but feel the bite of homesickness, and wishing I could book the next flight to CO to spend Christmas with my family. That being said, I know NYC won’t let us down. Our first Christmas as a married couple, and first Christmas in the city, is sure to be one for the books. I’ll be home for Christmas, my new home, and I’ll be seeing CO in my dreams. Until next time, readers. xoxo