“Are you Tina?” a girl randomly asked. “I’m sorry, am I Latina?” I responded, confused. She laughed, “No, I’m carpooling on with some girl named Tina and thought it might be you.” “Nope, not me,” I politely responded. Some guy managing traffic shouted, “You f—–g idiot, what are you doing!?!” to a car trying to cut through the. Everyone was moving fast and talking even faster, I was definitely not in the South anymore.
I wanted to take a trip to New York since January to visit one of my best girl friends, but for some reason dates and ticket prices never seemed to line up. Then a few weeks ago, I mentioned to a friend of mine that I was thinking of going to NY sometime soon and he said, “No way, I’m going in a week to see Radiohead. I have a spare ticket, you should meet up with me!” and before I knew it, I was booking a ticket to come into the city.
My flight from Atlanta landed on Tuesday a little after midnight, so I ended up just taking an Uber to my hotel in downtown Brooklyn to meet up with my friend. On the way there, I saw skyscrapers and lights – oh the thrill of being in a new place. I was used to traveling alone, but this time around I’d be making my way through the city with a friend, so I was admittedly a little nervous to see what it would be like to travel with someone else. When I got to the hotel, I fell asleep almost instantly, knowing that I would need my rest for an epic first day in the city.
We woke up around 10:30 a.m. and headed out. Our first stop was SoHo House in the Meatpacking District. It was a completely new concept to me. Basically, it’s like the equivalent to a country club in the sense that it’s a private hangout spot for members only. You have to apply for membership, and it’s geared towards people who work in the creative industry. GQ described it as “a successful combination of day-drinking haven and office for the self-employed.” They have houses in a few different places and are planning on expanding. As we entered my friend warned me, “Do not take any pictures, they have a super strict policy, and sometimes it can get a bit pretentious in there, just a heads up.”
When we got to the rooftop I instantly recognized it from an episode of Sex and the City where Samantha stole someone’s card to sneak in. I felt cool and hip, this was the trendiest city in America and here I was sitting at a table sipping on an extremely overpriced cold pressed green juice. After breakfast, we walked over to Chelsea Market. The first floor is basically the coolest food court ever with a few eclectic shops, and the floors above it have a bunch of offices. We checked out this hummus spot called Dizengoff. I don’t even like hummus, but it was heavenly. It’s also worth mentionng I don’t think I’ve ever had better-tasting pita bread in my life, and I don’t say that lightly.
Later that night we were going to see Radiohead at Madison Square Garden, so we
spent the remainder of the day just wandering around the city aimlessly. We walked around West Village and I was reminded of the days I spent in Berlin, happily taking in everything. Among one of the coolest things I saw was The Stonewall Inn, home to the iconic Stonewall Riots. As I stopped to take a picture I felt a connection to such a powerful movement. We continued exploring, “I was here for the Bernie rally,”
my friend said with pride as we passed Washington Square Park “and it was without a doubt one of the coolest things I got to be a part of.” Hunger struck again, so we stopped at this bomb Mexican spot, Fonda, and I had amazing tacos al pastor that blew my mind. If I’m being honest, I basically just came to New York for the food, and so far the city hadn’t let me down.
I have to confess that I made a huge rookie mistake. Before my trip I bought a basic pair of white tennis shoes, but I hadn’t noticed that I got them in a size too small, so by 2:00 p.m. my feet were raw from being squeezed into those tiny shoes. I had to stop to buy a new pair in the right size, moral of the story: pay attention to the shoes you travel in.
We headed closer to Times Square to meet up with friends for some drinks before Radiohead. The band put on one of the best shows I have ever had the privilege of experiencing. They took us on a beautiful intense journey full of emotions and raw vulnerability. Despite not really knowing a lot of their music, it hit me in all the feels. The stunning visuals and lights they used really complimented the powerful music. “For a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself” the crowd sang on as Thom Yorke’s distorted voice continued singing “Karma Police” acapella. Afterward, they went straight into a stunning rendition of “Reckoner,” and then for the first time since 2004, they performed “Creep” here in the States, and the crowd went wild.
When the show ended, we all sat outside of the stadium in awe. We probably spent an hour just reliving the magic. The next move was taking a cab to Ludlow House, which is like the sister to SoHo House. My first and only NY cab ride was terrifying – now I know why people always trash talk the cabs. After a few fantastic cocktails, we headed back to the hotel around 1:30 a.m. As we crossed the Manhattan Bridge to get down to Brooklyn, I realized that I had just had the perfect first day in New York. Amazing food, amazing music, and amazing people. What more could you ask for in a city?