Before leaving – Saturday morning
Open and blue skies and a warm, barely humid morning greeted me on that Saturday, Nov. 17. Drogo and I woke up early, and we were headed to the Dog Park near my house; we go at least once a week, this time around was a bitter-sweet outing. I was excited about my trip to New York – my boyfriend had to fly to the city for work, lucky for me, he wanted to bring me along – and a little sad because I couldn’t bring Drogo with me. My bag was sitting by my closet, pretty much done – I stayed up late packing and making sure I had everything I wanted to take with me. I put on turquoise and blue yoga pants, a white t-shirt, running shoes and we headed out.
The cool wind tossed my hair around as we drove down Congress Ave; Drogo had his head out the window, smelling all the different smells, I suppose. As we approached the premises of the park, Drogo got a bit impatient – I often wonder if he knows because he recognizes the surroundings or the smells, of course, I may never really find that out. I parked under a tree across the Lake Ida Dog Park; I put on my jean jacket over my gym-wear; not very fashionable, I know but I am not one to put much thought into what I wear unless it’s a particular occasion.
We usually go to the park in the afternoon, closer to the evening when the humid-heat is more bearable, so I was surprised to see that the park was full of furry, four-legged friends for Drogo to play with – I made a mental note to change our park routine to the mornings. I enjoy watching Drogo interact with other dogs as I walk around, he never stays too long with a group of dogs, he mainly moves on the outside, playing and running with different dogs every now and then; most of the time he makes sure we stay within eyesight as I watch from afar. Whenever he finds a grumpy or aggressive dog, he just moves along to the next one, I’ve never seen him growl or react aggressively – knock on wood. I’d say he’s an introverted dog that enjoys sporadic and random interactions with strangers. We’re alike in that, I too enjoy meeting people and having pleasant conversations for short periods of time.
After the dog park we headed back home; Drogo was tired from running around and playing. Back at the house I packed my things and walked to my car with a heavy heart; he was staying in good hands, my brother was caring for him – thank you, hermano.
I changed into black leggings, a warmer grey top, grey boots and I headed down to Miami at 11:00 a.m.; I had some work to do before the trip.
I drove down I-95, south-bound with the windows down; clear skies and warmer winds, and that salty air. I made it to Darren’s apartment by noon; he was at work, I noticed his bag already made and sitting by the large mirror he has in the living room. I didn’t waste any time, I had homework to grade, and a few articles to edit; I wanted to have everything done by Monday. I was vaguely aware of the light changing from buttery-bright to orangy-dim while the sun kept setting. As the saying goes, time flies when you are having fun; I only noticed it was past five when my boyfriend walked in the apartment. While Darren showered and got ready to head out, I saved my work and packed Nymeria safely in my black backpack – if you read my blogs you’ll realize that I am a nerd that names things.
En route to the Miami airport – Saturday evening
Dark, clear skies greeted us as we walked down to the car. We loaded all three bags – two were mine – in his granite Rubicon Jeep’s trunk, and we were ready to head out. Darren drove down I-95 to the Miami airport, I rolled the windows down to enjoy the salty, warm breeze. Our flight was on time – always a good omen – and we got to the airport with enough time to go through the security line and find our gate.
It took us 13 minutes to go through the security line, and nine minutes to find out the gate; I believe in the energy and the meaning behind numbers, I took it as a sign that the trip was going to be memorable, at the very least. By the time we got to the gate, the first group of people was already boarding the plane – talk about good timing!
On the plane, Darren watched Infinity War while I continued to edit the documents I had started to work on earlier – grateful for remote work! Our flight was quick and uneventful, quite ideal I’d say.
LGA – Saturday night
We landed at the La Guardia Airport at 10:50 p.m.; piercing, crisp air embraced us as we descended the plane. I was glad to have my coat, gloves, and beanie accessible; though in truth, they were not enough. We made it to 5th Ave. and 35th St. by 11:20-ish p.m.; we left the bags in the hotel room, and headed out to find something to eat.
Sharp, almost icy winds, amongst the tall buildings you could barely make out the dark skies; the streets were cold, somewhat empty and lit up. We walked around, at a brisk pace to keep somewhat warm, most of the shops were closed – I guess the city does sleep. We found a pizza place that was still open, and of course, there was a line. Thin crust covered with a layer of red sauce, melted cheese, and mushrooms to a perfect ratio. Pizza in New York lived up to its reputation, it was quite good or I was too hungry, but it hit the spot. After the prompt dinner we headed back to the hotel; I could see the Empire State Building from my window, that night it shone in bright purplish-blue lights. From what I found out, the Empire State building changes colors to “recognize various occasions and organizations throughout the year,” and it has been an icon as part of the New York skyline since 1976 – you learn something new every day.
New York City – a blur of days
Grey clouds, noisy streets, and tons of people walking on the sidewalks; to my Floridian eyes, the air looked unusually chilly. I layered up and put on my long, black coat, my beanie, gloves, and my boots. I felt puffy but ready for the cold.
That Sunday, Nov. 18, was the only day Darren and I had together; the rest of the week he’d be working. We left the hotel around 10:30 a.m., and we walked down 5th Ave.; he showed me where he went to college, where his dorm was. Darren pointed to the new structures, beautiful constructions of glass and concrete, and the old rustic, brick ones; skyscrapers, old churches, buildings, shops, apartments, all unique pieces of the “concrete jungle” that engulfs the skies as you walk down its streets. Darren described a different, less building-cluttered city as we walked down to Central Park. It was neat to see Manhattan through his old-NewYork eyes.
From afar you could see the remnants of fall colors, reddish-brown, yellowish-green leaves still attached to their trees. While some trees still had their fall leaves, other trees were completely bare and monochromatic; no foliage left – crunchy, brown leaves covered the grounds. Central Park was caught in between seasons. The mixture of fall dissipating into winter was beautiful to behold – it felt like we were part of a postcard. As the spectator walking down the park, I realized that it’s a place where the pass-time is to ‘do your own thing,’ whether it’s painting, taking wedding pictures, walking your dog – or other people’s dogs, workout, etc.; whichever your pass-time, Central Park seems to be the place for it. We looped around the park, walked over bridges, we walked past a Mary-go-round, and excited children. We spotted ducks, squirrels, dog-walkers, selfie-takers, breakdance dancers, painters, musicians; and of course, lots and lots of tourists – me being one of them. I couldn’t get enough of the trees changing their leaves, the crisp air, and the warm, sweet whiff of roasted peanuts.
By 4 p.m. we were back down near our hotel; there’s so much to see that you don’t realize how much walking you do. The blend of the old and new architectural structures is astounding, food trucks on the corners, movers, on-going construction – New York is an organic city, it’s always changing, breaking, fixing, living.
That evening we had an early dinner at one of Darren’s favorite restaurants, Chef Yu. Back at the hotel, Darren took a hot shower while I uploaded grades; after I stretched and took a shower, we were ready for bed.
The next morning I woke up around 9:30 a.m., I stayed in bed for a bit before getting dressed and heading down to the hotel’s gym. Darren had left for work already, I grabbed the room’s key, my headphones, a water bottle and rode the elevator down to the lower level of the hotel. This became my mini-routine for the rest of our stay. Wake up as early as possible, get my workout in, and head out to explore the city. In the evenings I’d meet up with Darren at his work, it’s always fun to see him work.
As I ventured through New York, I walked due south on 5th Ave., due north on 7th, and south again. I walked through quiet neighborhoods, busy Avenues; past, and walked around many people – a lot of them were eager shoppers. I found the New York Public library on 42nd St. and 5th Ave. At the entrance, past wooden doors and the security line stood a tall and cozy Christmas Tree decked with ornaments and white lights; I sat in one of the rooms to finish my work, the wooden shelves, walls, and tables made the room very inviting. Then I walked some more. My walking led me to Madison Square Park; I was blown away by the Flat Iron Building. Such an iconic building wasn’t new to me, I had seen it on the pages of my Art History book back in college, but seeing it in person was something else. As I walked down the Avenues and across the streets, I shopped, stopped for a chocolate brownie at a French bakery, I drank hot chocolate in different cafés, I ate delicious food; I was on a wondrous date with New York City. My favorite place for a hot chocolate was, hands down, Max Brenner Chocolate Bar – whenever you’re in New York, be sure to stop by and experience chocolate in a variety of ways. The chocolaty smell that embraces your senses as you walk into the bar/chocolate store/restaurant, the wood and warm colors extend a snug feeling to the place, perfect while waiting on your order. Florida shops are limited to a powder-in-hot-water option, but at this bar, there were different types of hot chocolate! Choose from dark, milk, or white chocolate, and the added flavors, spices or marshmallows. I was taken aback by all the choices, after taking it all in, I ordered the dark-chocolate with hazelnut. I got a cup full of a blend of velvety, rich, dark chocolate and hazelnut magic; just like my trip, it ended all too soon.
What I enjoyed the most, however, was people watching. New Yorkers, in my swift observation, are very fast walkers, excellent at jaywalking, and they dress nicely. Intriguing, independent, busy, fashion-oriented, and once you get past the ‘don’t approach me’ look, Newyorkers are really nice. I learned that the big-apple residents are seriously misunderstood when they are described as angry and rude. If you pay attention, you realize that they aren’t angry and rude, they are in a hurry and blunt; they aren’t passive aggressive, they ‘say it how it is.’ Of course, the rest of the world takes it as rude because most of us are used to passive aggressiveness as a normal, almost expected part of a person’s character. We are conditioned to think that being straightforward is rude, this leads us to put our needs aside and not speak up for ourselves, then we feel taken advantage of, which in turn leads us to hold on to grudges and being passive-aggressive. There is a certain sort of freedom in speaking up for yourself and not caring about what people may think or say about you or what you have to say. Nevertheless, balance is crucial, too much bluntness can be insensitive – taping on rudeness, too much caring can lead to passive aggressiveness and hiding our truth.
Thanksgiving Parade – back to Miami
A loud, and distant noise woke me up. The room was dark, and I was alone – Darren had to be at work at 1 a.m.; dazed I looked over to the digital clock on the night table to my left, it was 3 a.m. – I vaguely remembered that Darren had warned me about it.
The startling noise was the high school bands practicing before their march down 5th Ave., on national television. A little crabby, I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep, but between the many ambulances, garbage trucks, and band practicing, I didn’t get that much rest. I woke up around 7:30 a.m. – the grey sky had a whiteish, wintry glow to it. I got dressed and went down to get my workout in, back at the hotel room I took a nice warm shower and got ready to pack while I watched the Thanksgiving parade. Darren is the technical director for the show; knowing a little bit more about what goes on behind the scenes for this yearly event, I watched the parade with an almost nervous edge; and I was proud and relieved to see that it went marvelously.
My favorite part of the parade was the Broadway shows, the Radio City Rockettes in particular. When the balloons were ready to finish the march down 5th Ave., and 34th St., I decided to layer up and see them in person – how often do you get to see giant balloons?!
The main entrance to the hotel was closed, and we were asked to use the sideway entrance, to keep the cold from blasting into the building and messing with the heater, or so Darren explained. I made my way to the corner of 5th and 35th, walking past all the puffy, cold jackets, to the front of the crowd. Why people stand in icy winds, and biting cold for this parade is beyond me, at -6 C (42 F) my body was shivering, regardless of my warm layers, my nose was numb and red. I managed to withstand the cold to see the Diary of a Wimpy Kid balloon, a Sesame Street float, and Pikachu’s tail before giving in to the desire of warm, less crowded surroundings – I nearly ran back inside.
By noon I was all packed and ready, Darren made it back to the hotel by 12:30 and quickly packed his bag; by 1 p.m., we got picked up by a driver in a black Lexus sedan, and headed to the La Guardia airport.
We shared some airport food, warm butternut squash soup, and a turkey sandwich – a little festive, I’d say. Our flight back to Miami was just as uneventful as on our way to New York. Darren watched Ant-Man and the Wasp while I worked on my writing. We landed in Miami at 7:35 p.m., a little early, which was irrelevant because they kept us in the plane for 20 minutes. Tepid, salty air caressed my skin as we got off the plane since we only had our carry-ons, it was a quick walk to the parking lot and into the Jeep; open, beautiful blue-black, starry skies accompanied us on the way home.
Driving due north on I-95, it was a quarter to 9 p.m., suddenly we realized that it was Thanksgiving and everything would be closed. When we got to the apartment we were happy to find enough veggies to sautè, we mixed it with Rigatoni pasta; it was a delicious Thanksgiving impromptu dinner. We sat down in the living room; the balcony door was wide open, a gentle light breeze brought in the fresh, salty smell of the sea. We talked about the trip, the parade, everything, and nothing. As we laughed, listened, and talked, my heart glowed with warm gratefulness; I was happy to share my little moments with Darren – only Drogo was missing.
When you stop for a second and take in the moment you’re in, you realize that it is the little things that make life so precious. We are so spoiled that we take the little things for granted and then we complain about our unhappiness. I’ve learned that a path of gratitude leads to a journey of happiness. It’s important to learn to be aware in our present moment, look up to the silvery moon, or the golden sun, breathe in the playful wind, get lost in the green of the trees; spend time with your loved ones, laugh as often as you can. Enjoy everything you do, there are no mistakes, only learning experiences, and don’t waste your time with regrets, they aren’t worth it and they rob you from your ‘now.’
Thank you for a wonderful time. Until next time, New York.
An incurable passion for writing; a poet and storyteller at heart. I am a writer on the road.