I just happened to catch 2 minutes of a morning show with Alan Alda and Candace Bergen and found out the two of them were appearing on Broadway in Love Letters. Within 4 hours I had my 72 hour unplanned trip to the Big Apple completely planned, including two night of Broadway shows, a mock Thanksgiving dinner with my NY family and Christmas Shopping downtown.
I priority shipped clothes to my daughter's before I left so I did not have to check a bag or carry it around the city all day after I landed. I flew up on November 21st. I left home for the airport at 5:30am and arrived at 6:00am. My only bag was a backpack containing my winter coat, hat, gloves, scarves and toiletries and my breakfast. No time for Starbucks at the airport, I boarded the plane at 6:40am and landed at JFK on time, at 10:35. I took the Airtrain to Queens and then the subway into Manhattan, rising from under the streets at 53rd Street and 5th Avenue. Just two blocks from St Patrick's Cathedral (which takes up an entire block). On the block north of St Pat's is Versace. Here is a video of their Christmas decor this year.
On the block south of St Pat's is Saks Fifth Avenue. Their Christmas windows were under wraps until November 24th and this was November 21st so no windows for us.
I planned to spend an hour at St Pat's to visit the the prayer and reflection area for Mother Elizabeth Seton. St Patrick is in the middle of a $175,000,000.00 restoration. (so many zeros, so many candles to light). The restoration is taking place inside and out. St Mother Seton's alcove has been removed during this period of renovation. I came to visit with her and I was sad. Gratefully found the Our Lady of Czestochowa area still open and could lighting candles, sit and reflect.
The noise in the cathedral was amazingly low key when you consider that construction workers are in full evidence in many of the nooks and crannies. There is only one exit from the Cathedral at this time and it is not at the entrance area. The tourists and the faithful were all playing the maze game to find it. I left after my hour and crossed the street to Rockefeller Center to see the massive Christmas tree, also still under wraps. Then I walked south and west across town to visit my daughter at work.
On the way I passed at least a dozen Starbucks on the way there and stopped at only one. It was 28 degrees. I am cold even in my double lined coat, scarves, hat and gloves. I am use to Florida weather. I am such a wuss when it comes to cold weather. Here is a coffee dilemma. I got a venti hot coffee to warm my hands and insides. If I drink it my hands will not get the warmth. If I hold it too long my insides will not get the warmth. What to do? What to do? I love luxury problems.
We went out for lunch and I had a delicious vegan lentil soup. After lunch she returned to work and I walked south to Macy's - the world's largest store. I went just so I could reminisce some past and lovely outings to Macy's with my mother and with my husband when we were dating. I stopped in the toy department and found something I to purchase for Christmas and had it shipped home. I also bought something else small enough to carry home with me. The first floor has been completely renovated and is very different form the store I grew up in. Doris Walker would be unable to find her own office and Mr Gaily would probably get lost trying to find Santa Claus. *Let me know if you get this reference
The windows at Macy's are beautiful and very busy with children and adults pressed against them to take in the entertainment they offer. I only got photos and video of some of the windows on the Broadway side of the building.
Then I walked from 34th Street and Broadway back to Times Square and then up to Columbus Circle where I was meeting my daughter before dinner at Whole Foods. We went to Sephora where she treated her mama to new cosmetics. (she truly pampered me the whole trip!) After dinner we walked to Studio 54 for a performance of Cabaret with Alan Cumming. (thank you Lauren for this gift!).
It was an awesome show. How that man can do the physical moves and a kick line every night at the age of fifty is incredible. No matter what was happening on stage, if Allan Cumming was in view, I could not take my eyes off him. It was such a presence. He played this roll 20 years ago and when it was announced that he would reprise the role in 2014 I was skeptical but now that I have seen it, I cannot imagine that he could have been any better 20 years ago. Loved, loved, loved the show.
After the show Lauren took me for the ride on the alphabet to get to her apartment in Queens. This means that we rode many trains to get around the weekend service schedule. During the weekend I rode enough letter and number designated trains to create a Fibonacci sequence.
This is a photo of a print Lauren has on the wall of her study. I love this mash-up. We were up talking until almost 3:00 am. Luckily heat was coming up in the morning because I only needed four layers of afghan blankets to keep me warm. I had to get up at 8:45am for a phone call I had scheduled. By 9:30 Lauren announced that due to a water main break we were going to have to take all different trains today to get to everyplace we had to go.
First stop was Starbucks at Union Square in Manhattan. Then we enjoyed an hour at the outdoor holiday market at Union Square park. I bought a Christmas gift (and had to carry in the rest of the day) and we stopped for lunch at a food truck that sold Arranchini (Italian rice balls) in several flavors. I enjoyed the spinach and tomato best. Then across the street to Whole Foods to purchase a vegetable platter and dip to bring to my brother's for NoThanksgetting Day. Now we were on our way to Pelham Bay in the Bronx.
I cannot tell you how happy I was to see my brother standing again. He has been recovering for the past sixteen months from a systemic infection that nearly took his life . As part of the recovery doctors had to amputate more off his legs. He is a diabetic and does not have a spleen. Recovery from anything is a challenge but each tiny blister that formed whenever he tried to stand on his prosthetic legs would set him back 6 weeks. Each and every blister. That means he has been forced to sit for 16 months. Now finally he healed enough to start wearing new prosthetics. He even drove his car to the train station to pick us up. For the rest of the evening he had the legs off and stayed in his wheelchair so as to not do too much too soon. It was a joy to see him happy again.
My sister and her family were there and we have a real family mock Thanksgiving. We ate chicken and talked about things we were not grateful for and then we talked about watching a western where the heroes steal the land from the Indians but too soon it was time for Lauren and I to take the first of three trains to get back into Manhattan for the 8pm curtain for Love Letters at the Brooks Atkinson theater of 47th street.
Love Letters was really enjoyable but then I could listen to Alan Alda read the phone book and I'd be happy. I just love him. Through my daughter's connection she was able to get us orchestra seats, ninth row, center. The only empty seat in that section was the seat directly in front of me, which meant that I had am unfettered view of the stage and I was close enough to see the twinkle in their eyes.
After the show I wanted to wait at the stage door to see Alan Alda come out. He does not sign autographs after the stage performances. I wasn't concerned about getting his autograph. (I have it several times over). I just wanted to see him close up and maybe get a photo. I took a position right next to the gate and waited. It took about forty minutes but finally he came out and waved to us before getting into the chauffeur driven SUV. My daughter took the photo and I got video on my iphone.
Heading up the block we darted into the Edison Hotel to use the hotel before heading for the train. The doppelganger of Phillip Seymour Hoffman exited just as I reached the door. I was ready to ask interact with him and tell him how much I enjoyed him in Doubt when I remembered that PSH is dead and it couldn't be him. That was a bit freaky.
The next morning my daughter and I explored her neighborhood a little, visiting several of the Polish grocery stores and buying some things to take home. We had a brunch breakfast and then she accompanied me back to JFK airport. It was time for me to fly home.
It was a lovely 72 hours. I was open changes, grateful for everything as it happened and took care of my food sobriety at every turn. I came back home ready for this week of Thanksgiving.
I continue to feel blessed.