Bagels! Broadway! Subway Sauce! Welcome to NYC, Baby.

 

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Wow. It’s been awhile. Feels like months. I’m not even sure I remember how to type, let alone write anymore and yet I have soooo much to tell you about our trip to the big city.
NYC. It’s… something.
No matter how much research and prep you do, I don’t think anything can quite prepare you for the smell of it in July. It’s like a mix of 36 sweaty armpits, hot garbage, urine, cigarette smoke, hot dog water and occasionally the mouth-watering aroma of chicken sizzling on the grill in a street vendor’s cart. If you’re lucky.
With so much to see in NYC, can you really do it all in eight days? Heck no. But, I feel like we truly did get the quintessential New York experience starting with…
•The big squeeze!
The buildings are sun-blockingly tall and braced up against each other; the sidewalks and subways are teeming with fast-moving people and the apartments are microscopic, unless you’re Lady Gaga and have that swanky, multi-million dollar penthouse overlooking Central Park. That was one of the fun facts Ozgur the hansom cab driver pointed out when he wasn’t busy looking at his cell phone (apparently it’s not against the law in NYC to text and drive a horse-drawn carriage).
But Lady Gaga does not rent on Airbnb, so we got to experience life as an oversized family in an undersized apartment. Our original rental in midtown Manhattan had two bathrooms and a partial Central Park view, but it was unceremoniously cancelled three weeks before our trip. My husband’s mad scrambling turned up a place that put all of the biggest attractions within walking distance but with some, uh, tradeoffs — the place was all of 20-feet by 40-feet and had some sticky adhesive oozing from beneath the tiles leading up to the loft bedroom that all of us Monday-night architects decided was a stupid design feature because it should have been a full second floor with a second bathroom.
Yup, one toilet, one shower. It’s no secret that math has always scared me, but this equation in particular pounded fear deep into my shower-loving soul: five people + one bathroom.
No matter which formula you use, that adds up to bad news.
The tight confines posed a bit of a dilemma since access to the kitchen was essentially blocked off by the fourth “bedroom” where No. 3 — who actually slept through all of 2017 — was parked. Here’s a diagram:
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Because it’s vacation and everyone else in the family sleeps in except for me — I suffer from vacsomnia (vacation insomnia) — I was up at 6 a.m., which had its perks (no line for the bathroom!). But I wanted to wear my new shirt, which still had the tags on it, and the only scissors were in the drawer in the combo kitchen/bedroom. And No. 3 was still soundly asleep. Of course.
What to do, what to do…
I grabbed ahold of the metal staircase and scaled the back of the pullout sofa-bed until I’d made it into the kitchen. Parkour! I felt like an American Ninja Warrior.
•We saw a rat!
It was running right along the subway tracks, a flagrant violation of the rule we saw posted everywhere. But, we only saw one and that was good since I’d read a news story about how the rodent population had exploded and was the largest it had been in years, which primed me for the worst and which is why at one point on our trip when we were riding up a subway escalator, I felt something brush against my leg and I instinctively screamed and jumped (not easy to do on those little steps) only to discover it was just the nylon brush at the base. My kids were super happy to be seen with me when I did that.
•We rode cheek-to-cheek on the subway!
Imagine a NYC subway car at rush hour. Now, imagine it on the Fourth of July when millions of people show up to see fireworks — and they’re all on the No. 6.
Getting to second base with dozens of strangers is a bit unnerving and then, just when you think it can’t get worse, you notice a trickle of some sort of liquid streaming across the floor, threatening to touch your shoes. After sharing that story with one of No. 1’s friends, he dubbed the liquid “Subway Sauce,” which could almost be a band name but ultimately isn’t because of its grossness.
•Speaking of gross…
I was unnerved by the frequent Mystery Moisture dripping on me from up above. I hope, hope, hope that was just condensation from window air conditioners.
•We got taken!
We grabbed a cab from the airport to get into the city and the driver at one point turned off the meter. I strongly suspect it wasn’t truly a $70 ride.
On the upside, I was bracing myself for brusque big city attitude and had already coached the kids to not stop in the middle of the sidewalk to take pix, but all the folks we  encountered were so nice, especially the man who walked up to us as we tracked and backtracked on the same corner, dragging our luggage at 10 p.m., trying to find our Airbnb. He politely asked if we needed any help. I think I might have actually uttered an audible “awwwwwww.” I wanted to hug him.
And now, I feel like I’ve blathered on too long so I’ll just round up the rest of the trip real quick:
We watched “The Office! A Musical Parody” and “Hamilton,” hard to say which was better, and I can’t believe I obsessed about what to wear to the theatre when people were super casually dressed and then there was this guy…
It’s Broadway! Have some respect!
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And because we’re excellent parents, we took our kids to a comedy club with a two-drink minimum and we ate bagels and pizza and bao buns and pastries to the point that all my hard work at CrossFit for the past six months was completely undone in just a little over a week and we walked and walked and walked…

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until my blisters got blisters and even though we flew halfway across the country, we encountered mariachis on the subway and two different people from Tucson (!!!) and I left copies of my book at strategic points across the city so that maybe I could spread the word about “This.” but what is actually more likely to happen is that the copies will end up as some homeless guy’s bedding and then Joe thought he was getting a great deal with his side of three chicken-apple sausage links at what ended up as a $200 breakfast one day because he didn’t see the “1” in front of the 3.50 and so paying off this trip will be about like ponying up for college, but it was pretty amazing family time — rat, solo bathroom and all.

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