Did you ever have one of those moments that you think, ‘I must be living someone else’s life’? It’s a scene straight out of a major motion picture or a prime time drama and it just doesn’t seem real, but somehow, it is. Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw, I am not. But at this moment, as the resident pigeons search for dinner beside my aluminium table in Herald Square, I feel as if I’m channeling her writer side.
This week alone, I watched one of the old Law and Order episodes with both the actors who played Miranda and Mr. Big, and a friend posted an image of the Birkin bag she bought herself as a birthday treat.
On Wednesday, I had that ‘be a traveler in your own city day’. I was treated to an outdoor lunch at one of the city’s oldest taverns with a college girlfriend who had made it to the top position in her public relations company. For years after university, we have met in New York City (she came in from New Jersey and me from Long Island) to do one ‘touristy’ thing a month so we didn’t have to wait for visitors to see parts of our own city. However, today, it was just lunch with a side of girl-talk.
Her office is on Park Avenue (I guess this is how we channeled Charlotte) just off of Union Square and lucky for me, today is ‘market day‘. Just as my face lights up in a foreign city any time I stumble upon a market, today is no different. Amidst the skateboarders, protesters and 9-5ers taking in the sun eating lunch outside, the market is alive with colors, scents and sounds. From the cheese lady to the egg man and the herb vendor to the fresh baked bread aromas wafting out of the Bread Alone tent, people shop and click pictures to continue to hold onto the magic of the moment.
After lunch, I get the gift that travelers cherish…time to wander. I walk slowly up Madison Avenue taking in the fancy storefronts, the sunshine on my face and the crowds in Madison Square Park. I even get to drop in unannounced on my dad to have a quick father-daughter catch up in his air-conditioned office. Then, back to wandering. I am on a path to what feels like the Room of Requirement. For Harry Potter fans, that would be clear, but to others, it means the place that appears when needed and can turn into whatever it is you require. For me, today, that is the Map Room at the NYC Public Library.
Walking down Library Way, if you can tear yourself away from the eye-catching architecture in front of you and look down at your toes; you’ll see plaques on the footpaths that showcase the benefits of books and the adventure within. Look up, and there it is. Television shows and movies just don’t do it justice, but here, atop the marble staircase is a land where dreamers dare to dream and you can be anyone or journey anywhere you choose. It’s as if the Map Room is designed for the traveler, dreamer and the explorer in all of us. Typing away, amidst other dreamers, I am surrounded by maps, globes and designs of more maps and globes. I may not need a passport to get here, but I can certainly go anyplace I desire. Kermit and the Muppets would be in their glory…here you can most certainly, ‘travel by map’.
Headed towards Macy’s (remember, I wanted to feel like a traveler in my hometown), I take a detour through Bryant Park (which is situated on the back-side of the library). Abuzz with life in the middle of a June afternoon; this is an anthropological study in humankind. I pass an art cart set up for those who are feeling the creative vibe. Turning the corner I find a monstrous stage set up for tonight’s ice hockey Stanley Cup game and a sea of Ranger jerseys on the center lawn. Baci ball players have their game face on, chess players using paper boards for easy transport strategize under the leafy trees and I listen to the stories from the reading share of both young and old as they fill with people transporting themselves to a far off land. Look hard and you can see first dates, old friends, business meetings, college reunions, singles, couples, families and passersby just living life as they know it. Are we really all that different when it comes right down to it?
The only other time of year I spend this much time near a Macy’s is watching the parade pass its front steps from the comfort of my couch, but, boy, Macy’s is tremendous! I’m sure I’ve been inside at one point in my life, but I can’t remember when that was. It’s just amazing. There’s floor after floor after floor of product and people. This is definitely not the picture of an economic recession-that’s for certain!
I can only handle so much of a department store before I have to make my escape (holding my breath as I trudge through the perfumes so as not to disturb my asthma). Out the door and into Herald Square where I now sit surrounded by hundreds, yet in my own world. Police whistles, fire engine sirens, walkers, shoppers and workers rushing to make the subway for their 6:00 train home are all here. The city has embraced this traveler and the feeling is mutual.
Tonight, we’ll get our usual NYC dinner at Subway and take in a Broadway show (Aladdin) to cap off the day as a ‘traveler in my own city’. Time to wander, enjoy and relish the sounds, smells and sights of the city of New York. Talk about a traveler’s gift!
If you got the chance to spend the day as a traveler in your own city, what would you do?