Every year, I gird my loins against my first fall of winter – knowing that it’s inevitable, and that I will feel much more confident on the icy pavements once I get it out of the way.
But this year’s, by any standard, was a doozy.
A missed step, face first and with both knees bearing my weight – but if you’re going to do it, do it right in front of the Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree, and have a Very Good Boy of the New York Police Department come over to check if you’re alright and give you a big, slobbery kiss. NB: this only works with dogs, if you’re anybody else and you see me fall over please politely avert your eyes and give me time to recover my composure.
Long story short: my photos of the world’s most famous Christmas tree are a little blurry. But you’ve seen it all before, haven’t you?
New York and Christmas are so indivisibly linked, thanks to cinema, that even my latest-by-calendar visit, during a freezing October in 2006, felt pretty damn festive. But the Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree doesn’t appear until after Thanksgiving after all, so never mind the shining eyes of the first-timers in our party: I was here for the houses in Queens, draped in lights; for the Snow White-themed Saks Fifth Avenue light show; for boozy hot chocolates in a rooftop bar and for Elf, the World’s Most Unnecessary Musical, at Madison Square Freaking Garden.
Plus, let’s not forget I was doing this with my sister, her newly-appointed fiancé, his sister and her girlfriend. Fun fact: I always promised MC I would take her on a trip to London for her 18th birthday and to New York for her 21st. For whatever reason (crap with money) that never happened, and so here we were a decade later and she had taken me. We were going to go shopping together, on our second-to-last day, until she remembered that actually, she hates shopping – so we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge instead, and had cocktails together at the end of it in just about the only place still without wifi in the 21st century. A very different experience from the same walk in July 2010, and definitely better than shopping.
Together and apart, we packed a tonne into our five days. The obligatory first-day diner breakfast. Times Square, both by day and by night. A tour bus from the Richard Rodgers Theatre through Soho and Tribeca to the very tip of the island, and back again. A moment of stillness, away from the queues, at the 9/11 Memorial. Hot cider at the Christmas market in Bryant Park. And watching the sun set over the Empire State Building from the Rockefeller Centre observatory – a real “bucket list” moment, if ever there was one.
The only thing on my personal “to-do” list this time around was a cookie dough cone from DO, Greenwich Village, which I managed on my final morning before heading back to meet MC and Jamie at the hotel for our taxi to the airport. The idea was probably better than the execution, if only because I struggled to eat a whole one (I needed proper sustenance, via Pick a Bagel, as I had planned to check out the Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park first on Molly’s suggestion). Three-yearly catch-ups with friends who have known you forever over hot mulled wine in a cosy bar never get old either, if you insist on sneaking off from your family.
To say nothing of six-yearly catch-ups with one of your very best friends, and how we managed to make it that long beggars belief. The Rachelle Renée Springsteen Tour of New Jersey (™) deserves its own post, and will probably get it in the new year while I’m not rushing to get a Christmas-themed post out while the lights are still on.
Ah, New York: I never thought I needed to take falling for you quite so literally. See you soon, I’m sure.