14 May Nine Memories in a New York Minute • Alex in Wanderland
Where we’re at: I’m recapping my summer of 2018, and this is my final post from June in New York City. In other news: sign ups are almost closed for the latest Wander Women Retreats. Egypt is sold out, and there are just two spots left for Florida!
One month in New York. In a city that truly never sleeps, it’s almost mind-boggling all that you could fit into that. Of course, I was sliiiightly distracted by the fact that more than two hundred of my hours there were enthusiastically dedicated to my long-awaited yoga teacher training. But as usual, I was trying to live two lives at once, and so I tucked as much nostalgic New York fun as I could into every other spare hour.
This post, I admit, is a bit of a catch-all — a way to share and preserve all the little memories and stories and photos that weren’t splashy enough to warrant their own blog post but still were such a special part of what made this month so perfect in my mind.
It was surreal, in a way, trying to slip right back into being a New Yorker, more than ten years after I first made the big move to Brooklyn. It was hard not to picture moving back here permanently and bringing my self-employed life to the big city.
Picture this: waking up and writing for a few hours, going to a workout class, laying in Central Park sequencing yoga classes for my upcoming retreats, and then going to an exhibit at a museum where I get inspired for all kinds of new content ideas before heading home to work happily at home through the evening. I lived this day, this summer, and it kinda made me want to do it like, several hundred more times.
Read on for nine of my favorite memories from a month in Manhattan.
1. An Afternoon at the American Museum of Natural History
I can’t say that natural history museums are my favorite category of cultural institutions. What can I say, I like seeing my wildlife alive rather than stuffed! But, the American Museum of Natural History is an icon — and they drew me in with an incredible exhibit this past summer, Unseen Oceans. It’s still up through August of 2019 — don’t miss it!
This museum is insanely huge and so I didn’t even pretend like I was going to see it all. I simply checked out the special exhibit, then wandered through the Hall of Ocean Life and the Hall of Biodiversity — also ocean-lover paradises. I also stopped by Opulent Oceans, a now-closed small exhibit on scientific illustrations. Not only were the works fascinating, but so too was the fact that scientific illustration (which, FYI, is a way to earn science credits at Pratt Institute where I went to school, ha ha) really opened the door for woman to participate in science. Many naturalists hired their wives, daughters and sisters, also talented observers, to illustrate the works that they were at that time unable to author. How cool is that?
Unseen Oceans was incredible; a complete showstopper dedicated to the mysteries of the deep. From submarine and sonar exploration to the study of fluorescence, it covered so many topics I’m fascinated by while also painting a strong argument for sustainability.
I couldn’t help but feel inspired! I loved learning more about the science between the UV diving that I’ve made a part of my dive retreats.
2. A Rainy Day at the New York Botanical Gardens
This was actually one of my favorite days of the summer. As soon as I heard there was a Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit up at the New York Botanical Gardens, I knew I’d be there, even if I did so alone. Luckily, two of my girlfriends, Liz and Steffi, enthusiastically signed on for the adventure. Considering they were coming all the way from Brooklyn, heading up to the deep Bronx was quite a time commitment — and so we made a whole day of it, getting into crazy deep talks on the long subway ride north.
I pretty much lived on top of the subway station where they’d have to swap trains anyway, so after a sweaty yoga class, I ran home and got ready before popping down and meeting the girls right on my block for lunch at the West Village Tacombi.
The Visions of Hawai’i Exhibit was spread throughout different portions of the garden, and just completely captivated me. They’d planed plants of Hawaii in the conservatories, scattered island-inspired poetry around, and had special programming throughout the exhibit like nights with hula dancers and poke trucks, and screenings of Hawaiian films.
The day we visited was a rainy one, but our fun wasn’t dampered in the slightest. I’m laughing as I write this remembering Liz asking an employee, when we saw a sign announcing a private event was going on in a section of the gardens, “So this is a wedding, right? I can tell by the font.”
Ah, art school kids.
I’ve been a huge fan of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work and spirit for years and years, but I still managed to learn so much about her from this exhibit wholly dedicated to her nine week trip to Hawaii in 1939. She’d been commissioned to go there by the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, and her letters and mementos from the trip remind us what a different time it was — she arrived by boat rather than by plane, and headlines announced her arrival referred to her only as “the wife of Alfred Stieglitz.” (Okay, maybe the last part isn’t so out of place even today.)
I’ve been lucky enough to see some of O’Keeffe’s Hawaii paintings before while in Hawaii, but I loved this deep dive into not just the work but the artist as well.
3. Going Back to Brooklyn
I spent four years living in Brooklyn and it’s where I always return to — while I occasionally have house-sat or stayed with friends in Manhattan, Brooklyn is still the borough that feels like home. So it was super surreal to spend the entire month in Manhattan and only cross the bridge three dang times! The first time, I went over to Williamsburg after my first week of training to meet some of my college crew for drinks. After a week of feeling so out of my element it was great to ride the subway right to my comfort zone, and sit on a bar’s back deck drinking canned rose and listening to the sounds of the city.
I laughed on my way back home to Manhattan — when you live in Brooklyn your friends in Manhattan kind of just assume you’ll always be coming in to meet them and not vice versa. I am a friend-pleaser so I often find myself hustling back and forth on a regular basis to meet people. So of course the minute I “move” to Manhattan, I find myself shuttling back to Brooklyn. Ha!
I went back two more times — once for the Mermaid Parade and Bushwick Boat Party (more on that below) and once to meet my friend Zo at the Renegade Craft Fair. Mostly, I tried to take advantage of being in Manhattan for once and stuck around.
4. Family Fun
When I first dreamed of doing my yoga teacher training in New York, I imagined seeing mom and sister, coming from Albany and Philadelphia, often. It didn’t work out that way, but my dad was in town once for business, and my sister took the train over to have dinner with us.
It was a beautiful summer night and we walked The High Line before treating my dad to an early Father’s Day dinner at The Standard Grill (which serves steak and has dark leather booths, so generally is just so my dad).
My dad was there for a few days and so we also got to have dinner with my high school best friend Kristin at a Thai restaurant in my neighborhood, and have breakfast and check out my yoga teacher training one morning before he left town. Time with my busy dad is always so special!
5. Splashing Out at the Mermaid Parade
I mean, you already read all about this one. But it certainly is worthy of reminiscing on. No New York City summer is complete without a trip to Coney Island, in my opinion.
My friend Amanda and I were having such a ball running around the Mermaid Parade, we weren’t ready to let the good times stop rolling when the sun set. And so we continued the aquatic theme with an evening aboard a wild boat party in the Bushwick Canals, one of those nights that simultaneously feels like a scene from Girls and also something way too cool even for HBO.
6. Insane Sweat Sessions
Yes, my yoga teacher training was intense and the days were long. But I was so energized by being in the city, I often found myself at additional classes on the weekends and in the evenings. After so many years of having such limited options in Koh Tao, I felt totally high on all the choices available to me in New York!
I’ve loved the way Buti Yoga feels in my body for years, and so I was beyond thrilled when B MVMNT, a studio dedicated entirely to the practice, opened in the East Village. It was just a few blocks away from Y7 Lab, where my training was held, and so I signed up for the two week unlimited intro offer and went wild! I loved the sweaty buti sessions, the Wednesday night buti glow parties, and getting the opportunity to take classes with founder Bizzie Gold herself.
A few of my other ClassPass favorites finds were a local POUND Fit class (I adore POUND!), a boxing class at Overthrow New York, and an outdoor yoga class in Central Park. Plus, I was able to audit as many Y7 classes as I wanted, which was an incredible perk of the training program that I took full advantage of.
I left New York in the best shape of my life. But on that note…
7. Cheat Meals
Oh wow, my weekend cheat meals! Be still my heart. I had SO much fun eating in New York City. Literally the day I arrived in the city, I went to the Scooper Bowl in Bryant Park, and let’s just say that set the tone for weekends for the rest of the month. Not familiar with the Scooper Bowl? It’s a fundraiser where you pay one price for all-you-can-eat ice cream from a bunch of different vendors, AKA heaven.
If you read my yoga teacher training post, you know that I was splurge-free Monday through Friday. But come the weekends, I was all about the sugar high of the moment. New York has so many fun treats, it would have been a crime not to try them. I especially loved DŌ, the edible cookie dough that’s all the rage on Instagram, Underwest Donuts, a car wash slash bakery (yup) which was just a long enough walk away from my second apartment for me to feel like I’d earned it, and the nutella slathered waffle I devoured in Central Park after walking by a cart specializing in Belgian treats.
8. People Watching + Street Scenes
I know this probably seems silly in a way, but gosh, I just loved walking everywhere. In Thailand, I got so lazy with walking. Sure, I’d go on crazy hikes, but I’d get on my bike to drive to the minimart that was like, a stone’s throw from my apartment.
In New York, I walked everywhere. I love the subway but it can’t compare to wandering around, looking up at skyscrapers, earbuds in listening to my favorite music, and smiling my face off at alarmed New Yorkers who are not accustomed to eye contact from strangers.
My phone is bursting with random photos I stopped and took on the street during my thousands and sometimes hours of walking every day. It’s funny, after four years of living in New York I don’t think I saw the magic in it as much anymore, kind of in the same way I started to lose my wonder for Thailand. I guess for me, fresh eyes are a must.
9. Friend Dates
Y’all, New Yorkers are a busy bunch. Normally I have a fairly flexible schedule and can fit my work hours wherever they need to go, but this month, between juggling my training and my normal (in this case, neglected) work obligations, I too felt the scheduling squeeze. I had so many friends I wanted to see and so little time in which to do it!
Luckily, kitchens are essentially storage in the city (I kid you not, the oven in the first apartment I rented was full of clothes stored by the owner) and so I had plenty of opportunities to catch up with friends for a meal. One of my college girlfriends, Melanie, actually worked at the Y7 office, and one of our other mutual friends, Liz, was just around the block, so I had two lunch dates in close quarters! Lunch was a strict hour so often I’d job to meet Liz around the corner at my beloved Sweetgreen, where we’d ordered our salads ahead of time and wolfed them down over laughs about our days, though one day we managed to make a plan to meet Mel at Dez, a cute new lunch spot in Soho that I highly recommend if you love healthy Middle Eastern food and cute design.
The first apartment, with the whole oven closet setup, was so tiny that entertaining wasn’t exactly an option. But the spacious apartment I was in for the second half of the month was huge, had water views, and was just blocks away from my childhood best friend Kristin. What kind of luck is that? (Just kidding, it’s not luck. It’s half the reason I took the apartment.)
One night we got Indian takeout and had dinner on the balcony watching the sunset over the Hudson River and it was one of thousand times that month I thought, maybe I could live here again. Watching movies in the tub with my laptop propped up on a chair, ordering Seamless completely horizontal from a comfortable couch while watching Netfix, being within arm’s reach of family and friends from so many different phases of my life? I used to fantasize about that, halfway across the world.
This post might not be the most exciting I’ve ever written. In a way, it reminds me of the way I blogged when I very first moved to Thailand and I didn’t even think anyone was reading and was just trying to find a way to crystalize my passing thoughts and fleeting memories so I’d never forget them.
Because I really don’t want to forget this month in New York.
Here’s to another one, someday…