I got to see this dear, 27-year friend last week. We found ourselves on the streets of New York City. Wandering Manhattan and Brooklyn, doing every wonderful Big Apple thing we could in a few days. And a few not so wonderful but genuinely New York things, like sweltering in the subway, wearing cute shoes that made your feet hurt, switching to a different subway line because the one you need is running on a different track, and entertaining a drunk on the subway because it seemed like the right thing to do. But mostly, just good things, like Shakespeare in the Park – which was magical, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset and eating at Grimaldi's pizza.
We walked around the charming Greenwich Village, eating the best falafel at Mamoun's, fresh bagels, and Bleeker Street Pizza. We ate a lot of good food, which I believe is the best way to experience a city.
We wandered up the Guggenheim, which sits across the street from Central park. My favorite part was how this tree cast a shadow on the creamy spiral:
And when it rained, we wandered the Met, which was awe-inspiring – what an incredible collection of sculpture. We asked many people to take a picture of us – most of them are terrible, at best – but this is my favorite. It is New York in a nutshell:
We walked to the 9/11 memorial in Lower Manhattan. I was surprised – it's breathtaking. A smaller recessed pool within a huge recessed pool. From the side of the bronze wall inscribed with names, you can't see the bottom of the inner pool – it is a seemingly endless void. I looked up the artist statement from the memorial designer, he says this about it: "They are large voids, open and visible reminders of the absence." He also planted rows of trees as a symbol of life, regeneration, and to mark the public's space. He nailed it. It's beautiful.
From there, we ferried to Ellis Island, where I looked up my great grandpa in the registry. I found the original ship manifest: Axel Ägren arrived in 1924 from St. Tuna, Sweden. A farm-laborer headed to Chicago with $25 in his pocket. Wow. In the registry room, we gazed at the same tiled ceiling.
Appropriately, we capped off our adventures with cappuccino and cake at Café Lalo on the Upper West Side. We sat by the open windows, the trees outside twinkling with lights. Shout-out to You've Got Mail for highlighting this gem. I would absolutely meet Tom Hanks here with a rose and a copy of Pride & Prejudice. And yes, yes I do think daisies are the friendliest flower.
(Forgive the endless scroll of photos. I couldn't help it.)
Thanks to my lovely, long-time friend for this memorable time together.
On a final note, if you're looking for a great book this summer, I absolutely recommend Shotgun Lovesongs. It's a fantastic story about a group of friends from rural Wisconsin doing life and growing up together. Very well-written, funny, and charming. This midwest girl loves a good midwest story.