Fast forward a number of years from my first visit to New York. I am working at Bloomingdale's in Chicago. I would soon have the Christmas Shop added to the departments I managed for them. I am being flown to New York and put up overnight for the company's Christmas Shop seminar where we will meet the buyers and be briefed on the goods being featured in the stores that holiday season.
Earlier that year, during a winter getaway to Key West, I had met a couple who lived in Manhattan with whom I got along famously. They invited me to visit and stay with them whenever I wished. I arranged two days off after the seminar to do just that. As Bloomie's was paying my airfare this trip would be totally free of cost. I was gonna' make out like a bandit.
After a full work day I caught the train to the airport and boarded my flight. Since it was only a three day trip I was able to get by with just my gym bag. This was prior to 9/11 and carry on restrictions were somewhat more relaxed in those days. After landing in Newark I boarded the shuttle into the city which took me to Grand Central Station, and the adjoining Grand Hyatt Hotel where I would be staying, again on Bloomingdale's dime, that first night. I had to get up early enough to get to the seminar the next morning so ordered room service and waited...and waited and waited. After 2 hours and several phone calls the order was finally delivered to my room. It was on the house due to the problems I had incurred getting it there at all.
The next morning I had breakfast at a diner nearby and took a cab to the site of the seminar, checking my bag at the hotel till I could pick it up prior to going to the apartment of my friends. In accordance with my style sense at the time I was dressed in bright colors. A claret jacket, black pants, red and black print vest and red and black striped tie. I kept my color pallet to two tones and felt I looked stylish but professional. When the elevator doors opened to the space where the seminar was being held I found myself in a sea of gray and navy blue suits. To say I stood out is an understatement. Even the men's ties were muted and if a single woman was wearing something other that a pump with a one inch heel I didn't see her. That morning I defined "Didn't get the dress code memo."
We got through the seminar and were invited to the Christopher Radko showroom a few blocks away. Carrying the bag of Christmas swag we were given by the vendors, I still have the ornaments I received that day, I made my way to the showroom. I stopped along the way to pick up tee shirts for my neighbors who were looking after my cats while I was gone, burying them in the bottom of the swag bag. The vendor representative at the showroom was short, adorable and obviously gay. His butterfly bow tie made him even more adorable. We discreetly flirted as he gave us a tour of the showroom.
Leaving the showroom I picked up my bag at the hotel and headed to my friends apartment on the Upper West Side. One of them was an attorney and made a nice living, the other studying to become a nurse.Their apartment was comfortable, and by New York standards, rather commodious. It had the long,thin living room/dining room, which is ubiquitous in New York, two bedrooms and a single bath. It was a pre war building with many of the unit's period details intact. From the window in the bathroom St. John the Divine could be seen. It was under renovation, however and completely covered with scaffolding. We had a wonderful reunion and caught up over drinks at a nearby bar that night.
As one member of the couple was working and the other was in school I had the days to myself. My plan was to visit the Museum of Modern Art, having missed it the first time I was in New York. Prior to the museum I planned a short visit to the Calvin Klein underwear showroom to drop in on a friend working there who I had met working at Bloomingdale's. After a pleasant chat, I set out again. When I arrived at the museum I discovered that, oddly, the museum was closed on Wednesdays, the day I was there. Finding a map at a subway station I realized I was walking distance from the Metropolitan Museum. With an entire day on my hands I decided to pay it a visit instead.
On previous visits to this institution I was awed and enthralled by the treasures house there. Work had been hectic over the months prior and I was drained. After my time touring the galleries that day I felt as if a portion of my soul had been restored. Great art often has this effect on me.
The next day I returned to the Museum of Modern Art. I arrived prior to the Museums opening time so shopped at the museums store, open even though the museum at that hour was not. When the museum opened I revisited the artworks I had seen on my first New York visit. I was, again, deeply moved by Van Gogh's "A Starry Night". It appeared a special exhibition was being installed so a portion of one floor was closed. I ended up getting through the museum very quickly and finding myself back out on the street with several hours left prior to being picked up for my flight home.
When I first arrived I paged through a copy of the New York Times. Carol Burnett was opening in a new play on Broadway. I noticed at the time that there was a Thursday matinee. Theatre matinees are usually on Wednesdays so this stuck in my head. I quickly obtained a copy of the Times, checked the arts section to see what theatre it was at and raced, through a New York lunch hour crowd, to the theatre.
There is an odd sensation I have experienced on each of my visits to New York. The air is so dirty and sooty that I can feel a film building up on my face as I move through the streets. This may be a projection or imagination on my part, but I swear that is true.
The play was at the Martin Beck Theatre, renamed the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in 2003. Built in 1924 it was designed to be the most opulent theatre of it's day. It's beautiful Moorish inspired byzantine style interior added to the experience and enjoyment of going to the theatre. The play, "Moon Over Buffalo" was slight, silly and a triumphant return to Broadway for the legendary Carol Burnett after an absence of 30 years. It garnered Tony nominations for her and her costar Philip Bosco. It was a delightful end to my short stay.
After the play I raced back to the west side and grabbed my bag from my friend's apartment. My hired car took me back to the Newark airport where I boarded my plane for home. When I returned and mentioned to a friend that I had just come back from New York she said "And when you got off the plane in Chicago you looked around you and said Sky! Trees! Air!"
I did indeed.