The Tale of my First NYC Experience

Instead of doing the traditional Christmas gift-giving, my dad and stepmom decided to take my two younger siblings and I to New York City! The four of them had been several times, but I, the young gay who just wanted to see the glitz and glamour of this wonderful city, hadn’t even gone once. So yeah, I would have taken that trip over almost anything else you could have offered me for Christmas of 2017. 

And thank goodness I did, because it was amazing.

The one thing people kept telling me before we made the trip over there is that it would be cold. Like, really cold. Not just a “burr, it’s chilly” kind of cold, but a “I think my outer layer of skin might chip off” kind of cold. The first night wasn’t so bad, but we arrived just before New York was getting a wicked cold front, so each day just got progressively colder. I prepared for it as best as I could, but there were some days where my body was just done being cold. The cold definitely wasn’t enough to ruin the experience, but next time I decide to visit, I’ll be making sure it’s not during a time when even the locals say they’re having a hard time functioning outside.

Here’s how I prepared my poor desert body to face the those crazy temperatures:

That Star Wars scarf was the true MVP in that ensemble. The jacket was okay, but it was a bit on the big side, so air kept coming up into it. Hats were also a necessity, as even just a minute in those below-freezing temps turned my ears into actual ice. It was bonkers. I also had some gloves that aren’t in this picture, but using phones with gloves is kind of the worst, so they were banned from the selfie.

The first day we were there, we did a TON of shopping. I experienced Bloomingdale’s, which I soon learned to be a death trap for fashion-enthusiasts’ wallets. The men’s shopping arcade was downstairs (and underground), so I had NO signal, and NO way for my family to contact me. For all they knew, I could have drowned in a vat of Ted Baker designs because of the void of cell service. Oh right, I also learned that I’m obsessed Ted Baker. Here are the designs that basically told me I wouldn’t reach top-tier happiness unless I came home with them.

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The second and third designs were the ones I found in Bloomingdale’s. The jacket in the first pic, however, was acquired through a welcome, but somewhat unexpected twist of events when later in the night, my stepmom (who ALSO happens to love Ted Baker) suggested that we stop by a stand-alone Ted Baker store. I don’t know why I told myself I wouldn’t actually get anything upon going in there, because there were at least fifteen things I saw there that I would have bought. It was then that I got first-hand experience with NYC being very bad for your bank account.

The next day was full of sight-seeing. We started our day at the One World Observatory, which I heard is a fairly new attraction. It was one of the tallest areas in the city, and we were able to see all of Manhattan, a majority of Statan Island, Ellis Island, and a significant part of New Jersey. I thought there was going to be more to the attraction, but that was pretty much it. It was still pretty neat. 

Just look at how neat it is! We were all pretty gosh darn impressed.

Since it was right outside of the observatory, we also made a stop at the memorial site for the Twin Towers. My family had an impression of what they thought the design of the memorial sites meant, and they wanted to wait until we saw the site to share their thoughts on it.

For those who haven’t ever seen them, even in photos or videos, it’s essentially a large, square opening with water falling into it from all sides and all of the names of those who died from the attacks are along the outside of the “railing” that you stand in front of. I don’t remember exactly what my initial impression was of it, though I believe it had something to do with people coming together to make something beautiful happen. My stepmom and sister thought it was meant to portray tears falling, due to the tragedy of the event. I agreed with them on that. It was a somber moment in our trip, being able to look at the names of all of these people who were just living their lives like it was any other day, only for some truly awful people to end them too soon. It was a terrifying part of our history that will be remembered by everyone who was alive to see it, whether it was right at the scene of the incident, or just from watching the news. 

A bit later, we got a better view of Lady Liberty herself, so I decided to get a picture of her. The sun was setting, the water was glistening, we were all becoming human icicles, but I just had to get a photo, despite my hands actually becoming frozen while trying to take it. 

It was worth it. Even though it took what felt like HOURS for my hands to warm back up after being brave enough to un-glove them, it was so worth it. 

We also went to Chelsea Market that day, which happened to be my absolute favorite place to go out of all the places we visited. I didn’t get many photos while we were in there, but it was essentially like a food court/farmer’s market hybrid, but way cooler. There were some clothing and apparel stores, but it was mostly centered around good quality food. I mean, how much better could it get? It was such a cool spot, we went there twice. The second time was mostly to escape the cold for a bit, but it still counts. I also happened to buy the cutest pen while at the market.

It was at a Chinese store that sold several different knick-knacks and other various merchandise, and as a proud Leo, I just couldn’t pass it up. I mean, look at that cute little face! Could you resist it?

The holy grail of my visit, which was the one thing that I just couldn’t wait to go to, was none other than…the Nintendo store.

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Okay, so it would have been an even holier grail if it wasn’t so freakin’ busy. Due to us being there during a prime travel time, as well as it getting so close to New Year’s Eve in NYC, I honestly wasn’t surprised. It just meant that I had to fight just a few more people to get to the Kirby section…and the Zelda section…and the Mario section…I mean, it was just a slow process, in general. But I thought it was amazing that they had a section that celebrated the history of their systems, because it definitely made it more of an experience, as opposed to just being a place that’s out for profit. Good on you, Nintendo!

I’ve gotta say, though, I was pretty impressed with the merch! They had a ton of Amiibos, which for those who don’t know what they are, they’re little figurines that have codes in them that give you bonuses in some of the games. That was refreshing to see, simply because a lot of them are so hard to find, sometimes. All of the merch they had there was also very reasonably priced! I was expecting to have to decide on which parts of my soul I could spend on some stuff there, but the products were priced very fairly. 

The last three photos in the post include the merch I got from the store! I could NOT skip out on any Kirby items, because as an adult child, I live for cute things. The Mario shirt was super unique, and I wanted something Super Mario-related after falling in love with Super Mario Odyssey, so now the shirt is all mine (and currently on my body while writing this. Neat!) I got the Zelda Amiibo because of how much I love the Breath of the Wild rendition of her, and the Urbosa Amiibo (which my sis bought for me as a Christmas gift like the sweet individual she is) because she’s far too amazing. I got the Peach mug because, like Peach, I feel that I’m sweet, classy, and a little bit sassy. I’ve felt very akin to Princess Peach for a long time, so this felt like it was meant to be.

The next day, we went on some more sight-seeing adventures, and the one that stuck out to me the most was The High Line. For those who don’t know, The High Line is where an above-ground subway line near the Meat Packing District used to be, but was then turned into a super aesthetically pleasing walkway with a unique view of the city. 

It felt like the most hipster-esque view that we could get, and as someone who loves that stuff, I couldn’t get enough of it. The picture I took was described by my sister as looking “like a drawing,” and that photo definitely doesn’t out-do the in-person view. I would have stayed there, just taking in some more of the sights of the High Line, if it weren’t for the fact that the temperatures were very below freezing.

Also, there was a coffee shop called The Underline that had literally the best latte I’ve ever had, so of course, that became one of my favorite spots in the city.

Beautifully presented, super smooth, and it didn’t need anything extra to sweeten it. Each sip was absolutely celestial.

Of course, we couldn’t be in NYC without seeing a show! My stepmom got us tickets to see Come From Away, which has gained a lot of popularity, but was not something I heard of before the trip.

To give a short synopsis, the musical is inspired by a true story about planes landing in a small town in Newfoundland due to the airspaces closing shortly after the attacks on the Twin Towers. The townspeople stepped up to shelter and feed the people who were forced to land, all with kindness and compassion while helping them deal with the anxiety of being in a new environment, and not knowing if loved ones are still alive. It was such a great commentary on how we can really come together and make the best out of a bad situation. It showed just how helpful and compassionate we can be to each other despite how individual and complex our problems may be. It provided a great message of acceptance, which is definitely something we can use in our current political climate.

Last, but certainly not least, the food we had in New York City was outstanding. I don’t think I disliked a single restaurant we went to. My absolute favorite was a restaurant called Nobu, not just because it was super fancy Japanese food, but because it was delicious super fancy Japanese food. It was basically a Japanese tapas restaurant, and every dish we got was so gosh darn tasty. My favorite dish there, mostly because it was so fun to eat, was a crispy rice with spicy tuna!

I just really appreciated that, despite it being a more upscale restaurant, they still included a playful dish that was just as entertaining to eat as it was delicious. 

That wasn’t the only thing I ate there, of course! Here’s a fun collection of some of the other food that I ate.

It was all so good. I sound like a broken record with how much I’m talking about it, but seriously, it was amazing. Mind-blowing. I’d go back to NYC just to take a food tour around the city, because it was all just that good.

The trip was just incredible. NYC was somewhere I had always wanted to go, and to finally go there crossed a super important experience off of my bucket list. I am very grateful that I got the opportunity to go much earlier than I expected to be going. It meant a lot to be able to spend it with family, not only because they all had the experience with NYC in order to help guide me through the city, but also because it meant I created these memories with four incredibly cherished people in my life. There’s still so much to see, and so much to experience, that I know it won’t be the only time I go. The city charmed me, that’s for sure, and I know I won’t be able to stay away from it for another 25 years. 

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