I am gearing up to write a Christmas-in-New-York book for a story that’s been brewing in my head for a good long time. But it’s been a far longer time since I had actually spent time in New York before the holidays. So I thought a refresher course of a few days in the city was in order. That these few days happened to coincide with Hugh Jackman’s one-man Broadway show was fortuitous indeed.
So . . . I went. I refreshed. I experienced lots of good stuff that gave me ideas for my book. Sights, sounds, smells, tastes. And Hugh. Definitely Hugh.
And I’ve come home with plenty of memories. But one thing that stands out – besides Hugh – is how incredibly nice and thoughtful and pleasant everyone was.
From the taxi driver who drove us into the city from LaGuardia and who wrestled a very heavy suitcase up a flight of stairs (unasked and already tipped, so he didn’t need to) to the one who drove us back to the airport six days later, but who asked us before we got in the cab if we were in a hurry because, if we didn’t mind, he had to go a few blocks out of our way to drop off a camera to someone who’d left it in his cab, every person we had contact with was pretty much unstereotypically delightful.
Now, I’m not a big believer in the ‘brusque, sarcastic, can’t be bothered New Yorker” stereotype in the first place. But at this time of year, when people are normally more frazzled and harried than usual, it was a delight it was to run into so many people who were thoughtful and generous. Whether it was squashing more closely together on the subway to offer us a place to sit or digging through their billfold in Macy’s to provide a coupon for a discount on a sweater, or offering tips on shopping when they were sharing our table at a fast food restaurant, New Yorkers were unfailingly kind and almost, dare I say, unhurried.
They were great.
I think I promised last month to say where we went and what we did while we were there. So here’s the recap.
We walked all over and absorbed sights, smells, sounds. The Christmas trees on the corners were lovely and fragrant, and we delighted in seeing them wheeled in shopping carts to nearby brownstones. We did wonder, though, who was going to lug them up the four flights of stairs.
We went to the Frick Museum which I love because it’s small enough that my feet don’t hurt by the time I’m done wandering through it, and the collection is small enough that I can actually remember paintings. They don’t all blend together in some artistic brain blur. We went to the planetarium and saw the Journey to the Stars program. Pretty impressive. I liked it a lot, even if I came away with a stiff neck!
We ambled through the Natural History Museum, spend a bit of time in the New-York Historical Society, spent an evening in Chinatown (great soup dumplings!) and wandered past the big department stores to ogle the lavish animated Christmas windows.
We went to the Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side, and shopped at one of the very best Museum stores I’ve had the pleasure to visit. We crossed Delancey and sipped tea at the Starbucks and watched the rain pour down outside. Then we walked through it across Manhattan and caught a bus back up to the Upper West Side.
We went to Macy’s. We rode the escalators up and up and up. Then down, and felt sorry for the employees whose job was to stand there and say to everyone who descended, “Watch your step.” But it was personal, and appreciated, where those recordings at the end of moving sidewalks in airports are somehow not quite so personal – or appreciated.
And we saw Hugh.
Suffice to say, we had a good time otherwise, I got a lot of research done, but if I had gone looking for a hero, well, that one afternoon would have done the trick.
All in all, a great trip. Thank you New York. Thank you, New Yorkers.
I love your city. I feel like it’s my city, too. It definitely will be my city as I finish the book I am working on now and get going on the Christmas one to come.
Hugh was glad to be back on Broadway. I am just so glad to be back in the city itself!