Yesterday saw us at the Tick Tock Diner for breakfast, where AN had a mountain of French Toast and tastiness, SP had the kind of busy pancakes he loves, and I had some pretty darn good potato pancakes.
Then it was south on the MTA to the Staten Island Ferry, a free alternative to the tour boats to the Statue of Liberty: you cruise not too far away, and AN got a ton of photos of Lady Liberty and Ellis Island from our ship. I have to say that after standing amidst a crush of loud, chattering foreign voices, I wasn't too keen on the Tempest-Tossed, and I was yearning to breathe free.
We docked at Staten Island, and while I was eager to look around, we had only a few minutes until the return ferry took us back to Manhattan. Once there, we headed to Wall Street, where SP explained the origins of this part of New Amsterdam, and the uneasy relationship between the Dutch and the British. We looked for the New York Stock Exchange, and discovered that the steps up which Carrie Bradshaw runs to ring the opening bell are in fact part of another building; the NYSE does not have the dramatic approach of the place they used. We debated it, and looked at the other building from several angles.
AN was patient.
Then to the site of the World Trade Center. It had been several years since I'd been there, and they are still working on the foundations and infrastructure of the PATH train and the new buildings. I find it very hard to be there. I looked at a little girl of about 9 and said to SP, "she was -- what? two?-- when this happened."
I look at that big empty space and all I can think is, "All those people. Just going to work."
We walked to Chinatown and got some steamed buns - sweet bean for SP and me; roast pork for AN. It was a warm day, and the smell was getting thick. SP guided us through Canal Street and SoHo, and we arrived at Greenwich Village, where AN wanted to get a photo of the Stonewall Inn. We found it and I got some good photos of SP and AN in front.
We wandered around and found a restaurant where we had a nice lunch outside. The Village is probably one of the few places I could think of living - if I had to -- in NYC. It reminds me of Boston's South End, with fewer shops. Then again, the Upper East Side is closer to Central Park, which I think I'd need to keep me sane. AN, SP and I agree we would not want to live in NYC. It's impressive, but it's also big, dirty, smelly, and just...too much. Too artificial. I also felt chronically oxygen-deprived; I'd wake up gasping at night, and felt like I was sucking air during the day.
We hiked back to our hotel, stopping for a Mr. Softee, and AN worked diligently on his postcards. I found Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on TV, which I watched just to piss off SP (it was OK). SP gallantly went to the corner Halal Pizza place and brought back an entire cheese pizza; thus it was we had a true New York feast for our last evening in the city. I used AN's new laptop to find the location of the front steps of Carrie Bradshaw's apartment, and discovered that although she gives an address in the Upper East Side (a street number that doesn't exist, as it turns out), The Stoop itself belongs to a building in...
Greenwich Village. We'd been right by it.
This morning the plan was for me to head to The Stoop while SP and AN had a Lahvers! breakfast. I tried on various clothing.
"What are you doing?" SP asked.
"I don't want to look like a schlub when I visit Carrie Bradshaw's stoop." I explained.
"JC, she doesn't live there. She's a fictional character; she doesn't exist."
I turned to him. "Don't. Ever. Say that again. I am going to Carrie's stoop, and Miranda Hobbes lives in Brooklyn."
In the end I settled for a low-key shorts-and tank-top. I figured I didn't want to draw attention to myself.
I took the #1 train to Christopher Street, and in 20 minutes I was turning onto Perry Street. My breath caught in my throat. This was the street. THE STREET. I walked casually, looking for number 66.
There it was. The stoop. The stairs where Carrie told Big she was not going with him to St. Bart's. Where she told Aidan she was a smoker. Where she wore my favorite dress. Where so many, many things had happened. Sneer all you want, but I've stood in front of the pyramids and not been as moved. The last time I felt this sense of awe was standing in front of Michaelangelo's David in Florence.
That this was The Stoop was confirmed by the small sign attached to a chain hung across the stairs: "This is private property; please respect it. Surveillance cameras are in use."
I didn't take a photo; what would be the point? It's been filmed so many times, and the only point to taking a photo would be if I were on the stoop, but I'm not Immature Trespass Girl. Instead, I walked down the block, crossed, and turned back for a last look from the other side. I felt...wistful.
I stopped at a nearby restaurant for a bagel and coffee, then headed back to the hotel to meet my boys, stopping on the way at a cheap clothing store for a few items that made up in color what they lacked in quality.
SP and AN decided to come to the airport with me, even though their flight wasn't until much later. They are so sweet. We took the Long Island Rail Road to the Air Train, and there we were. I checked my bags and we went to the International Terminal to check theirs. Since there is no real place to sit and eat save a few crappy chairs by a Subway or Dunkin' Donuts cart, the boys walked me to my terminal, where I bade them a bittersweet farewell, and AN took his signature dozen photos of me heading through security.
My flight back was uneventful, and I was glad to see my critters when I got home. I hope those boys had a good flight back, and make it home safe and sound. I already miss the sound of SP blowing his nose all night.