Thursday, August 4, 2016

I Heart NY

To an outsider, we appeared as we do every summer: our whole family’s annual summer vacation to visit our brother Franklin.

This year, however, we didn’t fly to Los Angeles. We flew to New York because Franklin and his girlfriend Allison are living there while he edits several episodes of the second season of an amazing TV show called Mr. Robot. (WATCH IT!)

And in that way, everything was different.

But that wasn’t the only thing.

My twin sister Joy has a husband now.

My mom is officially retired.

And I have a boyfriend!


I’ve been meaning to write about my boyfriend, Daniel, for months now, and what better introduction than how he was thrown head-first into our loud, boisterous family’s annual vacation last month??

“Did he read your other blog posts about our family vacations?” my mother asked nervously when I asked if he could join us.

“Does he know it will be all of us? And that five of us will be sharing an AirBnB, including your Aunt?”

Joy and I laughed.

It turns out Daniel had read my other blog posts and, because he lives in New Orleans, had already met my whole family and didn’t blink twice at booking a flight.

In fact, he was the only one who appreciated our mom’s constant stream of emails leading up to the trip entitled “tentative itinerary.”

Since our family has always had an affinity for loud productions, it was fitting that our first night in town, we all saw a Broadway play.

Joy played her part exceptionally well when she took the wrong subway, got lost, and arrived at the play with one minute to spare, hungry and yelling at everyone.


And then our mom gave us the expected side-eye when we ordered double vodkas at the theater bar. 

The play Fiddler on the Roof (thanks mom and dad!!!) was the most memorable play I’ve ever seen. 

I didn’t get lost following the play ONCE and enthusiastically gave it a standing ovation.

(I then Googled the lead actor Danny Burstein when I got home because I have never seen anyone command a stage like he did.)

Hmm maybe it was the double vodkas…

After the play, we walked up the street to Times Square, a landmark which never changes, unless you count the changing number of chain restaurants.  

On the “tentative itinerary,” our mom had listed: “Take family Christmas photo at Times Square.” 

Drunk on theater, I felt like leaping there, like the Russian dancers from the play.

We quickly realized that we didn’t need a flash for our photo, as Times Square was literally lit up like a concert.

Beautiful models, iconic logos and other American consumerism shone down on us as we took group pictures but then Franklin got annoyed with the “same photo being taken over and over,” my mom sang show tunes, Joy re-announced that she was starving, and my dad and Allison snuck off to buy ice cream cones from a truck.

And in that way, everything was the same.

The next day, we went to the Natural History Museum, which I hated because it somehow made dinosaurs boring.

Joy laughed at me.

“Where is the skin? Where are the scales???” I asked staring at skeleton after skeleton.

I didn’t know which ones were actual bones or reproductions of bones.
(Most of the real bones were behind glass cases.)

“So WHAT is hanging from the ceiling? Plastic???”

Joy’s husband, who has his masters in biology, was not impressed at my ignorance.

(Also a “water giraffe” is not the proper name for an ancient platypus, nailed to the ceiling.)

A photo posted by Genevieve (@jennyjenny504) on

At the museum, we sat in a planetarium show narrated by Neil De Grasse Tyson about the universe which was also the most boring thing I’ve ever heard, and I promptly fell asleep in the dark theater with stars over my head.

Thankfully, Daniel still held my hand, despite my snoring in the theater.


Joy and I laughed again when our mom kept quizzing us on what “black matter” is after the show and Joy fielded every question to me knowing full well I was in R.E.M. cycle.

Fresh from a nap!! 

Daniel and I then paired off, and I found out something NEW I like about him—his navigational abilities.

There’s a simple comfort in following someone around aimlessly, not having to navigate for yourself, knowing you’ll get where you’re going safely.


(It’s also hard to concentrate on what’s ahead of you when you’re too busy looking up at the tall buildings and pausing to clap for subway performers pole dancing in the train cars.)

We met my NYC friend and walked to Daniel’s friend’s apartment, the chic-est apartment I’ve ever been to in the inappropriately-named DUMBO neighborhood 

(inappropriate because no one who lives there is dumb).

You could see the Statue of Liberty from the living room.

We all walked along the DUMBO waterfront, where thousands of people were out playing beach volleyball, basketball, cooking out, dancing, biking, running, walking dogs.

I especially appreciated the Hasidic Jewish family playing beach volleyball, a father mother and son, all dressed head to toe in traditional garb, not caring about rules or points in the game, just rolling up their pants and playing around.

That is not something you see in South Carolina. 

Or in Fiddler on the Roof.

We ended the night at Franklin and Allison’s Brooklyn apartment, where we had drinks overlooking the New York City skyline from their balcony (swoooon!) and when it got late, I followed my navigator boyfriend back to our Air BnB, without taking my eyes off of him.


The next day, July 4, I decided that I wanted to get a milkshake that I discovered on social media.

It was at a restaurant called Black Tap and there was a big line and the only person who humored me was my mom.

Some people (Daniel) don’t LIKE MILKSHAKES, other people like Joy got on the subway late and made us wait in line longer.

But my cookies and cream milkshake was perfect and I have never had a frozen treat so delicious and, yes, I’m including Dairy Queen blizzards.

We then all walked to Chinatown, and saw fascinating, unidentifiable fruits and vegetables and what appeared to be green onions that were so long and heavy that a vendor was slapping them onto a table from out of a box, like tentacles.

We saw fireworks from Franklin and Allison’s apartment (number “4” on the itinerary) and even though it was raining, we all squeezed in to their kitchen and talked about everything and nothing at all.

The rain stopped right as the fireworks started, almost as if it was just for us.

(Our dad watched the fireworks on the TV inside hahahahahahha)

Seriously...that view! Swooooon

The rain started again after the show and we walked home soaking wet, me feeling very much like a character in a TV show or movie set in New York, brownstone after brownstone passing as I hooked arms with Daniel and my mom.

On our last day in New York, we explored Brooklyn by foot, my boyfriend's idea, and the one who led me and my aunt to the cutest little restaurant I have been to in recent memory.

There was something quite magical about sitting in the café, eating breakfast at noon on a Tuesday, the buzzing of the barista making coffee drink after coffee drink, watching people through the window heading towards a little park.

…on their way to something, on their way back from something, having the best day, having the worst day— talking to themselves (in several languages.)

I felt that sense of anonymity too, even though it was a significant holiday for me.

If anyone looked over, no one would have known that it was our last meal of a special vacation for our family, one where everything was the same, yet different, and wonderful, all at once.

And I didn’t have to worry about finding my way home.


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