I got into JFK, said goodbye to Romeo, and headed into the city. The subway ride was long and mostly depressing. I passed through some seriously sketchy places, and was a little on edge the whole time, guarding my bags and trying to hide my iPad in my purse while simultaneously trying to see where we were along the subway line. I eventually made it to Kristen's stop, hauled my backpack on, and headed out. I wasn't sure exactly which exit to take, but I had a map of the area on my iPad and just needed to get oriented. Once I was above ground, I picked a direction and walked. Fortunately, I chose correctly and once I found a cross-street I recognized, I was able to find her building easily.
I buzzed her and she let me in, meeting me on the stairs squealing with delight. After dropping my backpack off, we went to her neighborhood bar down the street with her roommate, and her roommate's niece who was about my age. I was totally exhausted and after only a single beer (Blue Moon, my favorite), I was ready for bed. My body was working on the premise that it was around 6am, when it was really only getting close to midnight. After stopping by the bar across the street, we headed back and I passed out.
The next morning, I woke up fairly early and was starving. Kristen showed me this awesome app where you can order food to be delivered, and we ordered some bagel sandwiches. They arrived a few minutes later (the bakery was in her neighborhood, we were both just too tired to actually go). After getting ready, we headed out into the city.
First stop was the FedEx location to pick up a package, then we went shopping. Kristen showed me all the cool places and shops in West Village, her neighborhood, and we walked through Chelsea, Greenwich Village, and Meatpacking. At one point, we found a couch on the sidewalk. It was actually a pretty good couch, minus the fact that it was on the side of the road. We stopped to take some pictures, and a random guy walking by in running attire offered to take our picture together. He took a few and made some small talk, then we said goodbye. He was really nice!
We walked along the Highline, which is a park area built on former railroad tracks elevated through lower Manhattan. I'd never heard of it, and it was a beautiful and unique thing to do with Kristen. I had told her I don't want to do touristy stuff, just see her New York.
After a full day of walking, window shopping, and catching up, we needed to refuel. We agreed on sushi, since I surprisingly hadn't had any in so long. We went to a place in Meatpacking, I don't remember the name, and had some delicious sushi rolls. Finally, we headed back to her place on the subway.
When we got back, we immediately smelled burnt plastic. Kristen went into disaster-aversion mode and discovered that her roommate decided to use their oven for the first time in 3 years. However, she forgot to empty the bottom broiler area, and thus a big plastic water jug was currently being melted and warped, thus creating a toxic smell. Once we safely removed the guilty bottle, the apartment needed airing out. We propped the door open with a chair and decided after about 30 minutes that we should probably go to her boyfriend's apartment for the night so we didn't get sick.
However, before we could make a getaway, we heard a terrible howling racket. Kristen immediately knew it sounded like her roommate's cat, and we looked around, looked at each other, then both looked at the door propped open. The dumb cat had escaped. Kristen went searching the building for said cat, and I checked the fire escape (we had opened the windows as well). Thankfully, after a few minutes, someone opened their door and asked Kristen, "Um, did you lose your cat?" It had been yowling in the stairwell, and even after being taken in, had continued to disrupt the entire building with it's caterwolling. Finally, after we had her back in the apartment and the door closed behind us, we left the fowl-smelling apartment behind and walked a couple blocks to Kristen's boyfriend's.
We decided to make the most of my short time in NYC by going out that night, but not before a quick nap. Around 9:30, I laid down on the couch, just to refresh, and when I opened my eyes it was after 1am, Kristen was asleep, and there was no going out for us. I was disappointed but also so grateful for sleep. Unfortunately, going to bed so early meant that 5am rolled around and I was wide awake. I spent the next few hours reading and watching TV on my iPad. Soon after I woke up, however, I saw the flashing lights of an ambulance down the street, in front of what Kristen told me was Brooke Shield's apartment (and, where we had actually SEEN her come out of earlier that day!). I tried to be a little nose-y and look, but I didn't see anything of note. In fact, the ambulance could have been for the neighbors... who knows.
Finally, Kristen woke up around 9:30am, and we headed back to her place to get ready. I had an appointment at Warby Parker for an eye exam (yes, their retail stores do $50 no insurance eye exams!) so we headed to SoHo for the day. We popped into some shops and again I did a lot of window shopping. Finally we made it to the Warby Parker location and I had my eye exam.
My eye doctor was actually a Korean-American woman and we chatted about Korea. She didn't seem to miss it or want to go back, but it was fun to talk to her. I declined to have my eyes dialated but she did do some other test. She put a drop in my eyes then told her she was getting her machine really close to my eyes and not to blink. Later, my eyes felt really funny and I asked why. She told me my eyes were numb. Confused, I asked why she needed to numb my eyes. She confessed to me that her machine that got "really close" had actually touched my eyes. I freaked out!!! I literally NEVER KNEW those sneaky optometrists actually TOUCH your eyes with those things! Once I'd come to terms with that gross and weird fact, I picked out some glasses and ordered them. When we were finished, Kristen and I walked back towards her place. On the way, we stopped at a juice bar, called Melvin's Juice Box. We each ordered a juice and a wheatgrass shot. I figured it was worth it because I had been eating pretty poorly my entire Euro-trip.
As we sat down with our drinks, Kristen looked at the door, turned back to me with big eyes and says, "Don't look now but Russel Simmons just walked in." No need to tell me not to freak out, because I actually wasn't sure who Russel Simmons was. Kristen continued to remind me to play it cool, but I just sat puzzled. I'd heard the name, but couldn't think who it was. Looking at the guy, all I saw was an older, casual yet well dressed black man. After he ordered, he sat down beside us. While he ate, Kristen slid her phone over to me with a wiki article pulled up and then I realized he was the founder of Phat Farm (as well as the founder of Def Jams, a hip-hop music label, apparently). He made small talk with us about juicing and after his meal (which looked super delicious and healthy!), he left. Once he was gone, Kristen properly flipped out. Apparently, we had seen a disproportionate amount of celebs for my 2 days in the city: Brooke Shields, cat-on-his-head-guy, and now Russel Simmons. (FYI: Cat on His Head Guy is apparently a NYC icon. In case you didn't know, this is him.)
The next day, I again took the subway to the airport, collected my baggage, and headed to Houston for a few days. I'll catch you up on that one soon, I promise. :)