It’s sometime past 6:30AM, and my sister wakes me with a soft knock on the dark wooden door.
Perhaps my reaction is a tad delayed in the fact that I am in fact going into New York city today, as I lie in bed for another five minutes or so, something I do when I’m at home and avoiding the moral call to get ready for work.
I shower with a bar of Aveda soap, and a travel-sized tube of St. Ives apricot scrub. It’s not until after I get out of the shower that I realize that I didn’t wash my armpits. The second round in the shower makes me confront my excitement for the day ahead.
I eat a bowl of multigrain cheerios in what is the immaculate kitchen of this Katonah, NY dream house. I’m a far cry from the still of Breakfast at Tiffany’s I have on my bedroom wall at home, but perhaps that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as I sip a coffee that seems a tad better than the one Miss Golightly holds.
We enter White Plains, NY and I’m greeted by the greatest mall in the area: Westchester Mall. It’s a Wednesday morning, and arriving upon opening brings me stares from the mall employees. I always hate the first customers of the day, too.
It’s a cornucopia of American stores: Gap, Banana Republic, American Eagle, American Apparel, Starbucks, Urban Outfitters. It’s like I’m home again.
Urban Outfitters ends up being my only place of success, which is something of a surprise to me, but perhaps my high-standards are somewhat lowered in the face of two-dollar Girls calendars and ten-dollar BDG hoodies.
In my two hours, I’ve tried on more clothes than I have in a whole year, across the mall. I never try things on, but in the spirit of killing time, I indulge myself.
I walk up to my sister’s hair salon, and arrive a tad early. I’m greeted by her colourist, who informs me that I must go to “The Village.” I nod my head like he has just told me the secret to happiness, but inside my head there’s not a whole lot going on. The only village I know of is this really try-hard section of Park Royal with a Whole Foods and a Tommy Bahama’s.
We drive into the city, and I try to capture moments of the George Washington bridge as we drive by it. Sadly, there’s a lot of dashboard in these shots.
Ultraviolence plays the whole way into the city, with “Brooklyn Baby” played on repeat a couple of times. I don’t think I’ll ever be this close to Brooklyn with the lyrics of Lana this fresh in my head.
The day seems like a dream.
We park somewhere in a garage somewhere down an avenue that is in the forties. I watch the silver Jeep go up a lift, before I enter the humidity and hostility that is the air of New York City.
If there’s something to be said about this city, it’s that it’s alive. There is life every single place you look, there are people every single place you look. I can’t stop looking around as we dart through the people, only stopping when the light is truly red. It’s lunch time now, and the line-ups for food trucks are as big as they seem on The Food Network. My mind is on so many things, except where our end point could be.
Stop. We’re going the wrong way.
Turn around, dart faster, faster.
Dang, I am never doing NYC with a triathlon runner again, I think.
She darts into a building about five minutes later, and I chase after her striped dress, the door almost hitting me on the way in.
We’re at a show. The show has just started, but they still give us tickets. We rush up flights of stairs to our seats. It all starts to hit me that this is all really happening, and I’m about to see Michael C. Hall, Toni Collette, and Marisa Tomei in about thirty seconds. My sister remembered me briefly mentioning it, and totally surprised me! The show, The Realistic Joneses, takes just over an hour, critiquing human socialization, with a dark comedic edge.
It was one of the coolest shows I’ve seen, mostly because I haven’t watched anything like it before.
We’re ushered down the opposite spiral staircase to the street, and I sheepishly sneak my way back in to find a ‘restroom’ as the American’s call it.
We wander through Times Square, and I’m greeted by what is the biggest H&M I have ever seen, and a Gap that had a lot of the same stuff that my store had at home (ah, corporations.)
By this time, we’re reminded that our last substance was a package of mini-biscotti-esque cookies, and a lukewarm bottle of water.
We head to an area called Hell’s Kitchen, and head into a place called Mercato, as recommended by her colourist. It’s all very hip, and cute, with some patrons fawning over the World Cup near the bar. I don’t really taste the food as I shovel it down, but perhaps the point of this meal is the presence of my sister’s smile across the table from me.
We head towards Greenwich Village, taking the Subway. It’s a far-cry from the Canada Line, as their turnstiles actually work. Getting off near NYU, we walk to the Village, which falls short of the shopping I was promised. I see various stalls with vendors, a Chipotle, and a schwack of piercing places on the same block. Although tempting to add to my body mods while I’m away, I decide to save a sweet sixteen-esque, impulse piercing for another day.
We head for SoHo, walking by cool stores like Rag & Bone, and Brooklyn Industries on the way. In SoHo, I’m greeted by familiar stores like Zara, and Converse. Dean & DeLuca catches my eye, and I’m reminded of that moment in The Devil Wears Prada where they name-drop D&D for their pricetag of almost $8 per strawberry.
We subway back to somewhere near the forty-something avenue where the Jeep is, as it’s starting to hit dusk, and we’re both tired.
It’s been quite the day for me, walking through this city of dreams and dashed stars. I get to play Lana in the dark, as my sister drives back up-state.
You’re crazy for me, croons Lana in the outro to “Cruel World,” and honestly that couldn’t sum up my feelings for this city more. I am crazy for it.
I say a quick goodnight to my sister, and brother-in-law, once we arrive, and hear the echo of my patter on the hardwood, as I walk to my room.
I shut the dark hardwood door softly and wince in pain for a moment, as I look down at my right foot.
A small blister has decided to emerge on my pinkie toe after the day’s events.
There it is: my crown.
Derrick Gravener: Honorary New Yorker, for a day.