I love New York City. I lived in this city for only 18 months, 18 years ago, when I attended graduate school at New York University (NYU), and I miss it every time I leave. There’s something unique and invigorating about the smells, sounds, lights and action of the streets and alleyways. At the same time, I wonder, is it all really just wretched excess?
I would consider myself to be a rather understated person. I usually dress in a relatively simple manner, I wear minimal make-up, I’m not too loud (well most of the time!) and I live in what I believe is an elegant and sophisticated home. I wouldn’t use any of those words to describe New York. This is my first time in NYC in a number of years, and I have finally come to the realization that the most descriptive terms for my beloved city are wretched excess.
This trip is all about my daughter Julia, who asked me many times over the last year for a trip to New York. This weekend we are celebrating her 7th birthday and we are doing all the various activities that Julia wants to do. A visit to the Statue of Liberty and shopping at the Disney Store in Times Square topped her list (remember she is 7), as well as a Broadway show and Impressionist art at the MET.
We covered a lot of ground on our first full day in the city, as I acted as both guide and tourist with my mother and daughter. I love the hustle and bustle of the city and the activity and commotion at every corner. I don’t think I will ever get used to the pushiness of many of its residents, with their elbows out at the ready to shove me aside as the sea of people attempt to get through a crowded intersection. Sometimes I feel like all of humanity either lives in New York or is also visiting New York with me this weekend.
After our visit to Liberty Island, a ride up to the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal, a walk through downtown to pay our respects at the World Trade Center Memorial, a stop at NYU and Washington Square Park and some of my favourite low quality but tasty Chinese food on Bleecker street, we hopped on the subway to fulfill Julia’s dream to visit the Disney store in Times Square. If you look in the dictionary under “Times Square” I believe you will see the words wretched excess.
Maybe because it was Friday night, maybe because the weather was a perfect 22 degrees Celsius (72 Fahrenheit) without a cloud in the sky or maybe I’m just much older than I was when I lived here. Oh my gosh Times Square was crazy! Between the flashing lights, neon signs, 30-foot high video screens, sirens, music, restaurants, bars, stores, tourists and cartoon characters trying to take a photo with my daughter (for money of course), I was overwhelmed. I say this from a position of being an experienced world traveler and a mother of three.
As we entered the Disney store on Broadway I could see by the look on Julia’s face that she had arrived at her utopia. Merchandise from every Disney movie and TV show, present and past, every prince and princess, hero and villain, were on display, ready to be sold to the child who could beg, plead and whine loudest to his or her parents, grandparents, guardians or unknowing adult who made the error to enter this establishment.
After checking out a few more places and spending too much money on items that all three of us felt we just had to have during a moment of weakness (including a 25,000 square foot M&M’s store) we decided it was time to escape the wretched excess and call it a day. We limped back to our hotel, happy that we survived the madness of Times Square.
I will say it again – I love New York City. It’s wretched excess at its best (or worst), but I wouldn’t have it any other way.