Last Friday was my last day in New York.
I took the bus into the city with my roommate, Sunny, and we talked about our shared love for the city all the way into Manhattan. What are your Top 5 New York Moments? Where’s your favourite place to eat downtown? Which museum do you like the best? Do you remember when you saw Madonna inside Macy’s?*
We arrived at Port Authority, and headed straight to the Chelsea Market, one of Sunny’s favourite spots in the city. I’d never been before, and was suitably impressed. I found myself marvelling at the plethora of delicious-looking food and drink and flowers, annoyed that this was my first and last visit. We decided to eat lunch at The Green Table, one of the market’s many sit-down restaurants. We opted for comfort food; Sunny went for mac and cheese, I had soup and a grilled cheese sandwich, and we laughed and talked and tried not to talk about our impending goodbye. We had dessert to-go, a brownie from the Fat Witch Bakery. It was good, of course, but not the best brownie I’ve eaten in the city .
We had planned to visit the 9/11 Memorial, and so we headed downtown to the Financial District. Unfortunately, neither of us was aware that in order to enter the site, you had to have tickets. We made our way over to Vesey Street in an attempt to procure tickets, but the next available viewing slot was 4PM, a time that didn’t concur with either of our schedules. We had a brief look around the Vesey Street’s photo exhibition, but were somewhat unsettled by the amount of 9/11 Memorial related merchandise available for purchase. To make money off such a tragic event seemed distasteful, inappropriate even. It was a disappointing visit, a rushed debacle of an afternoon.
Frustrated, I left Sunny and headed back up to Midtown to grab a goodbye coffee with Jenan, who among her many other talents, works part-time in the PR department at Victoria’s Secret. We went to Starbucks and talked about the trials and tribulations of studying abroad. Jenan studied in England last semester, and completely related to my experience. Studying abroad isn’t all glamourous weekends in New York and exotic spring break vacations in Puerto Rico; it’s dealing with a completely different system of education, it’s not seeing your family for five months or more, it’s trying to find people in your near-vicinity who will support you. We talked about being screwed over by so-called friends, and finding solace in travel. It was exactly the kind of cathartic, reflective conversation I needed to have. I hugged Jenan goodbye, sad, but confident that I’d see her again soon.
After saying goodbye to Jenan, I walked over to Penn Station, to meet another friend. Will and I studied film together this semester, and I’d managed to coerce him into coming along to a rooftop film screening with me. As much as I love exploring the city alone, some things are better with friends. This seemed like one of them. We spent the afternoon wandering the Lower East Side, trading stories and talking about our families. After having dinner in an upscale diner called Alias, we walked over to the Open Road Rooftop, a public space that sits atop the New Design High School.
I’m serious; I watched a movie on the roof of a high school. I’d read about the event in TimeOut New York a while back, and knew that I had to go. I was smart to book tickets; the event sold out, and the evening did not disappoint. The venue was incredible; a huge, covered rooftop with amazing views of the glorious Manhattan skyline I’m so in love with. A band called Crinkles opened up the evening with a half-hour set, just as the sun was setting. The atmosphere was perfect.
The film programme itself however, a series of short films, was somewhat hit-and-miss. Some were excellent (A Brief History of John Baldessari, as narrated by Tom Waits), others were less so (Aaron Burr, Part 2), but the venue’s dreamy backdrop more than made up for it.
And so, the programme finished, and the evening came to a close. Will was taking the train and I was taking the bus, so we took the subway together and parted ways on 34th and 7th, outside a flower shop. As I walked through Midtown, back to Port Authority, I couldn’t help but feel like I was in a movie. But, of course, all good movies end, and so I stepped on the midnight bus for the last time with a heavy heart.
But, it’s like Will said:
“New York’s not going anywhere.”
And he’s right, the city isn’t going anywhere, even if I am. But who knows, maybe I’ll be back. After all, New York City is the perfect place for a sequel.