nyc with nana: this city, this moment

I can’t believe how fast time is flying by! We’ve had a crazy, fun-filled three days; but I’ve also been sick for the last three days, so my chronicling has suffered.

Saturday was another day bursting with activity and new memories. In fact, it may have been a little too full of fun! We spent the morning in Central Park, wandering and people watching. When we came to the Carousel, I told Nana that riding the Central Park Carousel was on everybody’s Bucket List, whether they knew it or not. She agreed, and we bought our tickets and climbed aboard.

Nana on her prancing pony!
Nana on her prancing pony!

What a Nana I have! She told me, “I do not want to ride in a wagon! I want a horse!” Not only that, she didn’t want just any old horse. She wanted one of the stallions that goes up and down. No stationary equines for this grandma! So I helped her saddle up on a prancing pony, and off we rode into the cyclical sunset. (Actually, it was mid-morning. But no matter.)

After our carousel ride (“Did you know carousels go clockwise and merry-go-rounds go counter-clockwise?” Nana informed me.), we bought two hotdogs and sat on a bench to watch the world go by as we ate. It was a perfect Central Park experience.

Central Park Carousel, watching with glee.
Central Park Carousel, watching with glee.

Post-Park, we walked to just about every theater we could along Broadway, seeking the perfect show for the evening. This part we didn’t plan so well. As it was Saturday, most shows were sold out or ridiculously expensive. We entered the lottery to win cheap tickets to Wicked, but sadly did not win. So we wandered back up to Lincoln Center, footsore and hoping against hope we could afford tickets to the ballet. Neither of us had been to a NYC ballet, so it seemed a good option. We were lucky to score some sweet and (moderately) inexpensive tickets for the evening’s performance, which was a set of three short stories. It turned out we couldn’t have chosen a better option! It was a fabulous performance, with three very different ballets to satisfy every taste. From a familiar story told with wild and weird modernism (“The Prodigal Son”) to a sassy, jazzy tale of a strip club brawl (“Slaughter on Tenth Street”), the New York City Ballet proved to be one of the highlights of our show-going experiences. We loved it!

The best view of St. Patrick's Cathedral we could manage, considering the construction. Still beautiful, though.
The best view of St. Patrick’s Cathedral we could manage, considering the construction. Still beautiful, though.

By Sunday morning, my cold was really setting in. We slept in a little (or I did, rather), and went to the noon Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. (Nana is the only member of my family thus far who is even remotely interested in Catholicism as I have grown to be of late. It was wonderful to attend Mass with her, knowing she was enjoying the beauty and history of it all just as much as I.) St. Patrick’s is amazing, but also under heavy construction at the moment, so we didn’t get to enjoy it as much as we’d hoped. Mass was calming and sustaining, however.

After Mass, we sought out the perfect meatball sandwich to satisfy Nana’s craving. (When we landed in NYC, she announced she needed three things: NY style pizza, a hot dog, and a meatball sandwich. All three were accomplished and enjoyed.) Our final adventure for the day was another highlight: Joyce DiDonato and the Met Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Levine, in concert at Carnegie Hall.

Tickets on display in the Carnegie Hall museum. The large, white one is Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett!
Tickets on display in the Carnegie Hall museum. The large, white one is Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett!

Getting to our seats was a perilous business, and Nana had to brave four very steep flights of stairs to make it to our balcony. (Even I was winded.) When we finally settled, the man next to me assured me it was worth the effort.

“I’ve been to every great concert hall in the world,” he told me, with his thick Austrian accent. He waved a well-manicured hand toward the ornate gold ceiling. “There is nothing — nothing — like Carnegie Hall anywhere. It is the best!” He kissed his fingertips to drive the point home.

“You have not heard an orchestra until you have heard this orchestra in this hall.”

Joyce DiDonato and James Levine with the Met Symphony Orchestra
Joyce DiDonato and James Levine with the Met Symphony Orchestra

Of course, who am I to doubt an emphatic Austrian? And he was right. (Of course he was!) It was an absolutely incredible performance. I don’t believe I have ever heard an orchestra before I heard that one in that place. I’m certain the makers of expensive stereo equipment must go there to study the sound quality, and walk away frustrated that their technology still hasn’t mastered the art of sound like a concert hall built in 1891.

Sadly, despite the high culture and great fun we’ve been having, my cold defeated me last night and today. I’ve developed a cough that made Nana nervous, and she told me she wanted me to stay in bed today. I didn’t really have the energy to disagree. So today was spent almost entirely in bed for me, while Nana went walking some this morning on her own. (Don’t worry. I tracked her progress with an app on my phone. Yes, we have switched roles in life.)

Our dinner cruise vessel -  the Spirit of New York
Our dinner cruise vessel – the Spirit of New York

Cough nor cold could keep me away from our plan tonight, though. A few months ago, I purchased a Groupon deal for a 3-hour dinner cruise for the two of us. We made our way down to Chelsea Pier tonight and boarded the Spirit of New York for a raucous 3 hour dance and dinner fest full of drunk Italians and rotund flappers. The bass was blaring, but the view was glorious, and the food was absolutely delicious. Though Nana didn’t love the dance mix, she did love the evening as a whole. And I snapped some great pictures of the Statue of Liberty and the NYC skyline glittering on the black water.

When we got home tonight, we poured ourselves a glass of wine (Nana’s idea!) and toasted a great trip. We still have tomorrow, though I am working for most of the day. Also, any day that involves packing doesn’t feel like a real vacation day, I think. Nana will take herself shopping tomorrow while I go into the NY offices for some training, and then we’ll spend our final evening together in the Big Apple seeing a Broadway show. (Matilda or Wicked?)

Nana, sporting her fangirl love of NYC proudly, aboard the Spirit of New York.
Nana, sporting her fangirl love of NYC proudly, aboard the Spirit of New York.

At one point tonight, I was out on the deck of the ship watching the skyline, and I turned and saw Nana through the window. She was watching the dancers with a bemused smile on her face, and I was struck by how lucky I am.

She said to me later, “You’ve been robbed by being here with your grandma and not your husband.”

“No!” I said. “I’m the lucky one, Nana. Nobody else on this ship is here with their grandma. Nobody else gets to experience this with you. I’m very lucky.”

She laughed, but I meant it. It’s not often we get the privilege of living fully present in a moment, I think. So often, we’re worried about what the next moment will bring, or longing for a time already gone. But tonight I had the gift of awareness, knowing that that moment was exactly the moment I wanted to be in. I’m so thankful for it–for all of it. Even the cold, which has reminded me to slow down a little. Even not having my husband here. As much as I want him here, I am so grateful that I get to spend this time with my Nana in the city she helped me fall in love with.

A bit dark, but here we are with NYC behind us.
A bit dark, but here we are with NYC behind us.

Like my seatmate at Carnegie Hall would say, you haven’t experienced New York until you’ve experienced it in this moment with this person.

I really am the lucky one.

 

 

 

 

Exactly how I feel about the Big Apple
Exactly how I feel about the Big Apple
Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty

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