Magical, enticing, exhilarating, this is what staying 29 floors above Times Square was like for me during the last week of June. From above, a view of the lights, action, and excitement draws one in like a moth to a flame. All this girl needed was a comfortable pair of walking shoes before taking the elevator down to street level. Once those elevator doors opened the sights and sounds of a city that brings tourists from all over the world, come alive. A drove of people with various languages rolling off their tongues do more standing than walking. For some, they are uncertain of which way to go,while others are mesmerized by the skyscrapers touting neon signs and billboards inviting the world in. Instantly, highest expectations are fulfilled with the thrill of being in New York City.
For me, the city brings back memories of a time when I took Metro North from nearby Westchester to take in a play, visit a museum, or do holiday shopping. Though nearly twenty-five years later, the city has remained the same. Sure, the marquees reveal different shows and restaurants have changed hands but the essence of the city, the fantastic Broadway plays and pulsing vibrancy still are the allure of Times Square, along with the cheesy I LOVE NEW YORK souvenir stores. People rarely refer to it as the BIG APPLE, but they are still taking a bite out of it, enjoying every scrumptious minute of finding the core of a place many return to again and again. Some never leave. Chasing their dreams while depleting their bank account it still is the most captivating city this side of the Atlantic.
Looking to my left I considered going down to 34th Street where Macy’s boasts their annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. Just across the street a small crowd gathered outside of the GOOD MORNING AMERICA Studio to meet the Morning Hosts. To my right, uptown the streets glisten and massive billboards offer an invitation to everything from the Harry Potter exhibit to Mama Mia. On this morning, I follow my stomach to the BAGELS Shop just around the corner. I take my bagel with a cup of coffee to a table in Times Square and eat while watching GMA’s big screen. At home this is a typical morning for me, only the NY bagel and the driving force of Times Square is not in my living room! I take in the sights, sounds and people that create the scenery at this early hour of part chaos and part jubilation. There is so much to see and do that I remind myself of the two hours I have before attending a writers workshop, my real reason for being in NYC. After breakfast, I see that Robin Roberts is mingling with the crowd of GMA fans. In an effort to get her picture, she comes over to me and I tell her “Robin I watch you every morning in PA.” “Where?” I tell her Pennsylvania as she shakes and holds my hand while we chat a bit. REALLY am I talking to the morning host as though she and I are BFF’s or at least planning to be? I walk away from the encounter considering it to be somewhat surreal. With a bounce in my step, I head uptown and decide I will see MAMA MIA the following night. It has been on my bucket list to see since the movie came out. I find the theater for Jersey Boys, the play I am seeing on this night and realize it is not very far from the hotel, either. While, my friend suggested a cab, I prefer to walk. Walk off that bagel.
My writer friend invites me to lunch with another writer friend she knows from Florida. This woman knows a college student who works at a Malaysian restaurant on 72nd Street, thirty blocks away. With the aide of the college student (it is her day off) we take the subway. This is a first without my husband. I’m the suburban girl, he is the city boy. Find me a train, the kind that surfaces to reveal the tree lined Hudson River. But, I’m glad to know the A/C is in full force on the subway when we arrive ten minutes later a few blocks from the restaurant. As we emerge from the subway station, an entirely different scene awaits, one of pristine elegance with boutiques, outdoor cafes and upscale restaurants. After a unique lunch filled with spices and Asian infusions, we return to Times Square via the subway. During my travels, I come across a New York City Dog. Both dog and owner appear very independent and not at all distracted by the many scents and happenings around them. No doubt, they are New Yorkers, taken back by little and with an innate ability to forge on.
Next up, a workshop discussing the future of e-publishing. Where is it going? It is most definitely growing and will continue to do so with the driving force of our evolutionary stage of technology blazing the trail.
I take a break, apply a band-aide to a stinging blister and later meet my writing friends from my chapter, VFRW, for a delicious dinner at Osteria al Doge. After dinner, two of us are off to see Jersey Boys. We bought tickets separately and are sitting apart from each other. I take my seat. I turn to the woman next to me and say, “I don’t think I’ve ever been in this theater.”
“Well, I’ve never been to New York,” she says in a southern drawl. I tell her I detect she is from the south. “Oh yes, from South Carolina.” We talk, she tells me she is 70 and has been to Europe, Boston, America’s west and all over the South, but never to New York City. I ask her what she is waiting for and she laughs. She has just arrived in New York City. She is thrilled to discover that I am an author. “Oh, please sign your bookmarks for my grandchildren,” she asks. We exchange email addresses and she asks if I might come to her home for a bookclub event. We continue our conversation during intermission. I enjoyed the show. It is upbeat, filled with those fabulous songs of the 60s with a voice so unique it captured a strong fanbase for Frankie Valli and his Four Seasons. There is really nothing like Broadway for talent. I really must see another Broadway show… MAMA MIA.
The following morning I get on line near the George M. Cohen Statue for half price tickets. There are several kids waiting with their parents. I hand out my bookmarks knowing this could be another audience for my books. An hour later I have an orchestra seat ticket for that night’s performance of MAMA MIA.
I’m exhilarated by the show and especially enjoyed Lisa Brescia’s phenomenal voice and fun approach to the role of Sophie’s mother. When she sang “Winner Takes It all” all I kept thinking is that I wanted to download it on my IPOD. But, she is not part of the CD cast performance. Later I go to the stage door where a handful of other “fans” are waiting to meet the cast. The actors come out one by one and graciously take pictures and answer questions. It was great to be able to tell Ms. Brescia how much I enjoyed her performance.
I had been concerned about walking back to the hotel by myself and now, the hour is even later. But, I am not by myself. In fact I am with people from France, Spain, Italy, and Connecticut. The population grows as I get closer to Times Square. I realize that at midnight times Square has more action going on than it does at 7:30 in the morning when I am drinking my cup of coffee there. Yes, this is New York the city that never sleeps at night. Can I join in in this all night party. I am very tempted, but the following day is filled with workshops, a lunch and then back to Penn Station for my train home. Certainly, I’m pleased with my time spent in The Big Apple. I was transported back to my growing up years of the 60s and 70s through two fabulous Broadway plays in the vibrant city that keeps me forever, young at heart.