New York City is one of my favorite places in the world. I visited a few times as a child, fascinated by the lights, cabs, and stores. When visiting in my adulthood, my affections only grew. I love the food, atmosphere, shopping, sports, and cliches (and lack thereof) that come along with the city. Seeing it shut down during COVID-19 and thousands of people and businesses suffer was dismal.
I’ve been fortunate to visit Elijah in New York a few times the past couple months and I’ve gotten the same questions from so many people, “Isn’t it dead? Can you basically go nowhere?” The answer is no. Actually, I’ve never seen it so alive.
About a week ago, NYC formally lifted all remaining restrictions, declaring itself officially “back to normal”. I was there to witness it. At the time, everything (for the most part) was already open. Every neighborhood was bustling with restaurants, shops, music-playing, and happy people. Declaring the city officially open lifted any remaining restrictions and capacity limits.
Eli and I were able to indulge in some of our favorite New York places that (thankfully) survived the COVID-19 pandemic:
Thursday Kitchen, a Korean small plates restaurant with quite literally the best food I’ve had in my entire life.
Los Tacos No. 1 in Chelsea Market, with some of the most incredible street tacos.
Walking around the reservoir in Central Park (OK - I know this wouldn’t have necessarily been affected by COVID but we were so excited to do this again).
Sporting events, specifically we went to the Yankee’s first game at full capacity (my first time, though we’ve seen the Mets at Citi field a few years ago). Being in one of the most iconic stadiums in sport-crazed NYC after COVID was electric.
Some new highlights we were able to try:
Stuffed, a dessert place not far from Thursday Kitchen that’s famous for their “cruffs” - a donut ice cream sandwich.
REMI coffee, a flower-shop-coffee-shop that we went to WAY too many times, indulging in their rose lattes, lavender lattes, and toasted marshmallow mochas.
I’m so happy New York is recovered and alive again. I’m so happy I get to support establishments and get “back to normal”. And I’m so excited to go back in just a couple weeks!
Addendum To Diana’s NYC Take:
Mom here, a/k/a Shelley.
Diana’s blog is interesting to me and I hope it is to you also.
I was running around New York City around the same age that Diana is now (23). “The city” is electric (literally and figuratively). There is a magnetism to “rat racing,” if you will. I relate all too well to Diana’s draw toward NYC, while young.
I was fortunate to live/stay in some nice places on Manhattan island (Diana’s aren't too shabby either) in my 20s. I once spent a month at the Helmsley Palace. But most of my lodging was with my aunt (Cathy), in her upper east side one-bedroom apartment on the 24th floor of the Continental Towers. I slept comfortably on a large sofa. Cathy’s place was upscale and I’m grateful she put up with me for as long as she did (a whole summer and from time to time thereafter).
The two of us actually had a lot of fun together in NYC. When I wasn’t schlepping along to auditions with her we enjoyed shopping, movies, theatre, spotting stars, iced-chocolate drinks at Serendipity, visiting friends...all the normal stuff you do whilst living in NYC.
-- Here’s my issue with New York City: It’s expensive. Like really expensive, especially when you’re 23-years-old. When I began shopping for a place of my own to rent, the sticker shock was shocking. Eventually, I found a room inside an elderly lady’s apartment in Greenwich Village. It was the size of a walk-in closet in my parent’s home and I only [maybe] could afford it. Plus, there was a caveat: I’d have to eat lunch every other day and completely give up buying shoes at Bloomies, but still...I could [maybe] afford it.
Manhattan was the only burrough I considered back then and I guess I didn’t want to live there badly enough because I opted out of that closet-size room in the village rather quickly.
Once Cathy’s boyfriend joked that he “knew of a pretty good size place around 225th Street.” I was excited until I realized 225th Street was in Harlem and it was dangerous at the time.
Reading about Diana’s excitement to see “The city” come alive again, post covid, makes me smile big though! She and Eli met Cathy and her husband, Steve, for breakfast on the upper east side where Cathy still lives. They had a lovely time together, just like I used to have hanging out around there.
I will likely never consider living in NYC again in my lifetime, but it is my hope for the Big Apple to thrive and survive, post-COVID and beyond.
Thank you for reading!