There are numerous people who, at some point in their life, have fantasised about living in New York, and I was one of them. Until I visited Empire City for the second time in one year.
My first encounter with The Big Apple was a day trip in July, right before Tim and I flew back to Germany for our wedding. We were visiting my cousins up in Philadelphia and Princeton (two of the most wonderful cities I’ve been to, but more on that in another post) and decided (well I decided, Tim was keener on paying D.C a visit) that a trip to New York, even if it meant a take-the-bus-at-the-crack-of-dawn-and-return-near-midnight was necessary. New York welcomed us with a hot and humid day, yet we refused to care. We strolled through Manhattan, hitting up all the touristy spots, being unapologetically touristy ourselves. Lunch at a Persian restaurant (I know, when in New York, you go for a true NYC pizza, but we live in Miami and there’s not a bunch of Persian expats in the Latin capital of America, and I was craving Ghormeh Sabzi and Kabab Barg, washed down with doogh), caught a distanced glimpse of the statue of liberty before running to hail a cab to escape the sudden rain and meeting up with friends from across the globe. Each of us had a friend that is now calling New York home and we managed to all come together in a small crowded bar on 56th and 5th Ave, before heading back to Philly with sleepy eyes, sore legs and cameras filled with photos.
My second trip to New York came after a visit to Philly again where I got a chance to see my aunt who was visiting from Iran and staying at my cousin, Sahar’s. You see, Sahar is more than a cousin and more of a sister. We get along extremely well and so do our husbands (they spend the majority of the time spent together talking about politics and European football, in guys’ terms that means they get along well, right?)
After 4 days in Philadelphia, and on no other day than election day, I hopped on a train to New York City, extremely confident that I was about to witness something extraordinary happen to America. The first woman president was about to be elected, even though I wasn't much of a fan of hers and had “felt the Bern” more, then again who am I to have an opinion. I’m not an American citizen, hence I must shut up. (I’m not living in Iran anymore either, and I voluntarily chose to leave, i must shut up about Iran’s political situation too. I shouldn't even dare vote. Sadly that is what I’ve heard a couple of times.)
The train was packed with commuters and early election win celebrators convinced that Hillary was to be announced president before dawn. A group of what I assumed to be first time voters (their Generation Z dialects, constant use of “literally” followed by a figurative phrase, “I can’t even”, “It’s not even funny” gave them away) situated themselves beside me. Their confident conversations bordering arrogance and hinting that they were the reason America was going to be having its first female president.
“When he loses I want to be in front of the Trump Tower” one announced, almost immediately faced with a groan “No, we should all meet up at the Rockefeller Center! Party till morning” another exclaimed.
Among my accidental eaves-droppings I learned that they were taking the 7 am train back to Philly to get back on campus for morning class. That’s dedication. If only their trip had been worth it…
I was staying at Shayda’s place. You may remember her from my Heidelberg days. A few months before we moved to America, Shayda had accepted a Post-Doctoral position in New York City where she was enjoying life in the big city. I had briefly met up with her during our day trip to New York City in July and since she’s suffering from a Persian passport dilemma (she has a single entry working visa in the States) she couldn't attend our wedding, although she had played a vital role in the proposal Tim had masterfully planned. You can catch the proposal video here. Nassim, another friend from Heidelberg, then quite pregnant and round, and also a key role in the proposal, was also in the States visiting Shayda and some neighbouring cities and we decided to have a mini reunion in The Big Apple.
We reunited in Shayda’s apartment, ordered pizza and watched in disbelief as the American map went red state by state. The three of us went to bed hoping to wake up to the news of America’s first female president. Well, that didn't happen… Shayda had to leave for work and Nassim, her bump and I wrapped ourselves in layers and headed off to explore the city.
I wouldn't want to bore you with details of every single sight we visited, so I’ll just stick to a few pictures. I just have to mention one thing, I was quite surprised at how unfriendly New Yorkers were. I do have a handful of anecdotes about some interactions that left me underwhelmed, disappointed and insulted even. But I’ll give New York another chance before I spill the beans on its residents.
New York was a city I was sure I’d end up in. The diversity, the architecture, the charm, and the fact that some of the best publishing houses are headquartered in The Big Apple had me enchanted. But it took me a couple of visits to realise that I’ve grown out of the love to live in such a huge and busy city. It was a mere fling. Yet I love returning to the city that never sleeps and that I shall do (although Tim’ll need some persuading since his love for the city is non-existent and he proudly declares that he is one of the few people who never wanted to live there.)
Though I have put it off for too long, I don’t regret it, since I am now writing it on the day Nassim’s little baby girl is born… And her name? Nila… (My non-Iranian Heidelberg friends know me as Nila… And though I know this is a mere coincidence, what a beautiful coincidence it is... Oh how I adore that name…)
Welcome to the world princess Nila, hopefully one day you and my daughter/son go to New York together just as your mum and I did…
PS: Next stop; San Fransisco