Deep green, pine-scented alleys. Twinkling lamp posts, trees, and stoops. Warm, glowing windows. Pitch perfect, exquisitely harmonized carols. Brown slush. Frozen pigeons. Wind so cold it almost makes you poop your pants. This is December in New York.
January is similar, except the streets turn into Christmas tree graveyards, the windows have more of a dinge than a glow, all the caroling has ceased, and been replaced with a howling, bitter wind. Let’s not forget the frozen piles of vomit scattered about on New Years Day. Another graveyard of sorts, but of people’s dinner.
I love it, I hate it, I want to/never want to leave. This city is nothing, if not a roller coaster. I can equate it to a brand new relationship: it keeps you on your toes, and you allow yourself to continually be invested because you are just so damn curious to see what will happen next. You put up with the shitty things because there are great things that tend to balance it out, you don’t want to break up too soon because…what if it’s “the one?”
My husband and I used to struggle back in our hometown with date nights. It was either dinner and a movie, bowling, or the single cool bar in town. In New York, we struggle because we are just overwhelmed with choices. Opera at The Met? Dinner at one of the 125 new restaurants that opened this week? VR techno sex show at the Museum of Sex? Broadway show? The list goes on and on. What do you do when you can literally do anything? The only obstacle, of course, is budget. It hasn’t been easy budgeting for fun stuff while simultaneously budgeting for bills and rent. This is not a cheap place to live, you have the most insane and unique experiences at your fingertips at all hours of the day or night…but it’s going to cost you. I feel like this is ten-fold during the holiday season. However, the simple pleasures of the city often are just as joyful as the more pricey endeavors. A hot dog from Papaya King, walking hand-in-hand through countless Christmas markets and pop-up shops, carefully selecting unique local gifts for everyone you love, we made it work for us. Hopefully, by the time we are seasoned New Yorkers, we’ll also be master budgeters.
December kicked off with a visit from one of my oldest and dearest friends, Chelsey. She flew up from North Carolina for the weekend and we experienced some of the best and worst things NYC has to offer. We’ll start with the good. The amazing and grand Capitale hosted an elite, Great Gatsby themed party, and we were VIP guests. I have long been enamored with 1920s culture and glamour, so to say this was a dream come true for me would be a dramatic understatement. I had chosen my dress weeks in advance from an incredible, modern-old-Hollywood dress shop called The Deco Haus. It was dripping with gold, sparkles, fringe, and everything a modern Daisy Buchanan could dream of. A dress so beautiful, it comes second only to my wedding dress. We got gussied up, filled our bellies with pizza and gin, hopped on the subway, and were on our way to the fanciest party I will surely ever attend.
We arrived at Bowery Street and began walking a red carpet (I know, I’m not even kidding). Tall men in suits unhooked a velvet rope, adorned our wrists with gold/black bracelets, and suddenly I was thrust into my dream world, my dream decade. The floor pulsed with big band-techno fusion music, starry-eyed guests in their glittering gowns walked by with their glasses filled to the brim with champagne, and showgirls, magicians, and acrobats hung from the ceiling, danced, and performed Harry Potter worthy magic. I honestly would not have been shocked to see Leo Dicaprio himself, in character for the occasion. We danced, we drank $18 cocktails, and we had the time of our lives. It was decadent, it was perfect.
After nursing our hangovers with sleep and brunch, we went into the city for some shopping and lunch. We perused shoes we could never afford at Bloomingdales, ate Magnolia Bakery cupcakes, and decided to end our day with seeing the Rockefeller Tree before heading home for our best friend tradition: takeout and Friends marathon. That’s when things went terribly, terribly wrong. Unknown to us, there was a store-front light show scheduled near the tree and near our path to the tree. We ended up getting stuck in a mob. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? It was. It was the kind of mob where if you fell, you would get trampled and either end up in a full body cast or in a hole in the ground. It was the kind of mob where a polite girl raised in the West who is uncomfortable being rude to anyone, ever, almost fought someone. The kind of mob where you would do literally anything to get out of it. We were stuck in the mob for almost an hour. Unable to move, barely able to breathe, and absolutely at our wit’s end. Tourists fuel the city, but they also ruin it. We were finally able to see the famously majestic tree, but were so frazzled and stressed from being unable to move and shoved among strangers that we didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as we should have. Do not let the smiles fool you, we were dying inside. That is not a glow on our faces, it is a sheen of stress sweat. Word of advice, NEVER go see the tree when there is a light show scheduled. Just don’t do it.
We finally managed to get home to sweet, tourist-less Brooklyn. We put our sweatpants on, ordered some chicken wings, and watched Friends. THIS is where true friendships thrive. You can attend all the fancy parties you want, go to all the most beautiful and exciting cities in the world, but at the end of the day, if you can’t sit and comfortably share some silence and chicken wings, they aren’t your best friend. I love you, Chelsey.
After a sad goodbye, it was back to the grind. In addition to my full-time dog walking gig, I also started volunteering with an amazing organization on the weekends finding homes for homeless dogs, Muddy Paws Rescue. It’s the most fulfilling way to spend time, holding puppies in your arms, knowing you are helping them get one step closer to families that will love them forever.
Up until Christmas, December was a blur of wagging tails, countless miles walked in the frigid cold, work, school, and spending time with my little family in our little apartment. Netflix and snuggle have become our favorite wind down activity. I couldn’t even believe it when I woke up one morning, and it was Christmas. Our little kitchen was full of Christmas cheer, stockings on the wall, a sweet little Christmas tree my husband surprised me with, and so many holiday care packages from loved ones across the country. We drank coffee, opened gifts, FaceTimed with family, and had Christmas dinner in Harlem, with friends both old and new. It was a beautiful day, I couldn’t have asked for a better first Christmas in New York.
New Year’s Eve came in the blink of an eye, time really does seem to move faster here. Nick had to work, so I went dancing with some friends in Brooklyn. We rang in the New Year with a champagne toast at a super cool bar in Bushwick called Sweet Science. It had friendly people, great music, and a giant framed photo of BIG on the wall. A sparkling, feathered crown was placed on my head the moment I walked in, and I knew I was where I should be. The gin and tonics were stiff, the music was loud, and there is something about counting down to a new beginning with a room full of strangers that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Even though we’re all so different, and will never see each other again, for a moment, we’re all in something together. And I think that’s beautiful.
And that brings me to the present. The present being in the midst of what is being called a “Bomb Cyclone” storm in New York. Day 1 was harrowing wind and swirling snow dumping ALL DAY. Day 2 was trudging through said snow, and trying to remember what it feels like to be able to feel your skin. We’ve got a few more days left of this cyclone madness, and I know now, that one scarf, is not enough scarves. One pair of thermal leggings are not enough pairs. WEAR ALL YOUR CLOTHES New Yorkers, and stay warm. We have a brand new year to adventure through together. Until next time, xoxo.