Since I was 7 or 8 years old, I have dreamed of going to New York City. It represented everything I could dream of; art, musical theater, and DANCE! I used to want to live there. I dreamed of becoming a professional dancer and joining the NYC Ballet or becoming a Radio City Rockette… of course, I don’t have the feet for classical ballet and I’m not quite tall enough to be a Rockette — not to mention the injuries that put an end to my dance career altogether. But such is life… and now I’m a photographer and a mother, and I’m happy to raise my children in this small, charming town in Southwest Michigan. But I never stopped dreaming of at least going to visit the city to see as many Broadway shows as possible. It only took me 30 years, but I finally got there!
In early December, to celebrate my 37th birthday, my 20-year-old niece Alana met up with me in NYC for a wonderful adventure! We saw two Broadway shows: ‘The Book of Mormon’ and ‘Kinky Boots’, and a live taping of ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’! They did not disappoint! Everything was as amazing and wonderful and spectacular as it sounds! When we weren’t attending shows, we explored the city. We walked around Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and Saks 5th Ave to look at all the window displays and giant holiday decorations; we street stalked Nic Rouleau; followed Tony Shalhoub into Central Park (he was not impressed); we shopped the Holiday Markets in Bryant Park and Central Park, walked around Columbus Circle and visited The Met.
I’ll admit that while I did take a lot of pictures, most of them were taken with my cell phone with no attempt at being creative or artistic. Sometimes I find myself making a choice between taking great pictures and actually living an experience. Don’t get me wrong, of course, I love taking pictures. I love being creative and capturing the beautiful things in this world. But sometimes I just want to live the experience. And I did a that quite a few times during this trip. Because of that, I have hesitated to share these photos and this experience on my photography blog because… well, they don’t all fit with the “creative photographer” appearance I try to consistently portray here. This is not stuff that will go into my portfolio. But it’s stuff that WILL go on my list of wonderful adventures. I’ve finally added a few check marks to the top of my bucket list. Below is a combination of pictures from my Fujifilm X100T, my cell phone, and Alana’s cell phone. (And one photo from a total stranger’s phone.)
After months of planning, we made it!
Alana totally mastered the subway during this trip. We only got lost a few times!
Times Square, I’ll be honest, was a little underwhelming for me. But hey, now I can say I’ve been there!
Remember when I said we street-stalked Nic Rouleau? This is how he got away… Oh well…
… we got to watch him a little later, from the third row of this beautiful theater. This was a fun show and we were so close we could see all the sweat and flying spit. I’m actually glad we weren’t in the front row – we would have been wishing for raincoats!
We did a lot of walking. (Walking is FREE)
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree during the day. (Yes, a little girl in bright pink pants wiped out just in time for the picture on the left. Don’t worry, she got right back up and started skating again.)
Sadly, I can’t just drop into any restaurant and order whatever I want without a care in the world. I have certain dietary restrictions that won’t allow it. So, prior to my visit, I did a lot of research and emailed a bunch of restaurants – Stone Bridge Pizza and Salad had the most informative response any restaurant has ever offered me. After multiple emails back and forth with the manager, I felt pretty confident that I could eat their pizza. And oh.. my.. god… it was so delicious I nearly cried! The restaurant was very clean and had a great vibe, the staff was friendly and Enrique, the manager who I emailed with, came to our table to check on me a few times throughout the meal. If I ever get back to NYC, I’m definitely going back to Stone Bridge! ☆☆☆☆☆ (It’s near Bryant Park if you’re interested)
More exploring. Lots of big buildings and gigantic Christmas decorations.
When we started planning this trip, Alana signed up for notifications for all of our favorite late night shows. Less than a week before we headed to New York, she was notified that tickets were available for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and she quickly snagged two! This was such a fun experience! They don’t allow ANY photos to be taken past the foyer, so we have a nice picture of a cutout of Stephen. But that’s ok – we have the memory. And I got to give Jon Batiste a high five! It was SO MUCH fun! There is this YouTube Video of an interview with Matt Damond where, for a split millisecond, Alana and I can be seen in the audience if you happen to know exactly where we were sitting. (Oh yeah, btw, we also got to see Matt Damond.)
And now, back to the streets… the city at night in December is pretty spectacular.
Rockefeller Center is way more impressive at night!
Another day. I love old buildings.
As we stood at this crosswalk, a man talking on his phone turned to look behind him — we made eye contact just in time for him to spot me pointing at him with one hand and hitting Alana with the other as I whispered, “It’s… it’s… it’s Monk!” (Tony Shalhoub). He wouldn’t turn around again after that. We followed him across the street, into Central Park until he turned one way and we needed to go another.
We went to The Met! It was huge! I don’t think we came close to seeing even half this place.
When I was in my early teens (I think I was right around 14), my cousins, Joy and Kevin, visited NYC and sent me a postcard with a picture of “The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer”. I loved it and hoped that someday I would get to go see her myself. I had forgotten about it until I walked into this room and there she was. So beautiful! I still have that postcard somewhere.
After The Met, we walked through Central Park and then did some shopping in the Holiday Market (I didn’t take any pictures at the Market… I was too busy shopping.)
Finally… Kinky Boots!!! I LOOOOVED this show! It was an amazing production with a beautiful message! I would totally go to see this again! (Maybe Netflix will pick it up like they did with Newsies!)
After the show, we left and just started walking. When we realized we were going in the wrong direction, we turned around to go back the other way. As we got to where we started, we noticed there was a line of people at the stage door so we decided to join them, because… why not? We got to meet and take pictures with a few of the cast members…..
…. including Stark Sands who played Charlie — and we giggled almost non-stop like little girls until we fell asleep that night!
It’s the end of our splendid get-a-way. Headed to the airport. We may act more like friends but I’m still her aunt and I think she’s super cute no matter what she’s doing and I have to take pictures of it. (Side note: 42 St is where a guy attempted to blow himself up on the subway the second day we were in NYC. Thankfully, the bomb misfunctioned and, while a few people suffered from mild injuries, no one was killed. It happened fairly early in the morning, while we were sleeping, soundly, on a comfy bed in an Airbnb in Upper Manhattan.)
Goodbye New York City! I already can’t wait to go back! And thank you, Alana, for being my New York City travel buddy! It would not have been the same without you! ♡
Oh yeah… and Joe Biden was on my flight out of NYC! Everyone on the plane was a little freaked out, confused and excited. I didn’t have a chance to take a picture of him – though I did walk right past him in this terminal — but one of the other passengers did and she was kind enough to send it to me. (See! Talking to strangers is a GOOD thing!) Thank’s, stranger!