As a non-New Yorker, I was warned not to get into any unmarked cars...
I started the morning at the airport undergoing quite the ordeal involving a gypsy cab and me not knowing whether or not I was going to have to enlist Liam's services and his very particular set of skills. I kept my GPS on the entire time to make sure the driver was going in the right direction and after only one almost-accident with an oncoming, merging car, I made it to Brooklyn. Below, is my Facebook post I made during the ride chronicling our interaction partly as a calming mechanism and partly as a 'just in case someone needs to know where I was last seen' note... My mother was not a fan of this.
"Me: [looking for cab]
Stranger: This way...
[Walking to "cab"]
Me: [Clearly seeing a gray car with absolutely no sign of cab markings or visible proof of a license.] Uh, this doesn't look like a cab...
Driver: [Putting my bag in trunk] Yes yes I work for [mumble mumble foreign accent mumble mumble] Where to?
Me: Brooklyn. [Holy crap - should I get in this car? My bag is in the trunk. He's in the driver's seat. Uhhh what is my body doing...oh crap...I'm getting in. I'm shutting the door. I'm putting my seatbelt on. Ohhhhhhhh.]
[In car... five minutes later]
Me: [Seeing no meter] So how much is this?
Driver: For you $45
Me: Ok. [Dang - swindled. It all happened so fast]
En route to Brooklyn, letting you know in case someone needs to get Liam on the phone."
Upon arrival I confirmed with my friend's roommate that I wasn't swindled too badly and that $45 was a pretty normal rate, so... at least there's that. I dropped off my things, freshened up and headed out for a day in the city.
It only felt fitting to pay my respects to the 9/11 Freedom Tower Memorial as the very first thing I did in the city. PWP Landscape Architecture designed the breathtaking memorial. Looking into those ominous voids encircled by the names of the victims was truly a powerful experience. They did such an amazing job creating a space that is as heavy in permanence as it is in unity. If you've never been to New York, or if it's been a while, I urge you to make the pilgrimage to the memorial. Gaze into the voids, sit amongst the trees, and remember - appreciate the freedom we have in this country. It will truly take your breath away.
Wellll... the second stop was less of a stop and more of a walk - a LONG walk. After spending a while meandering around the memorial; I wanted to see more of the city, walk the streets, take it in, feel the pulse. I asked a security guard for directions to Broadway and after pointing me the right way I started to walk - he stopped me.
"Ma'am, where are you trying to go?"
"That's a LONG way away!"
"I know - but I feel like walkin' it."
"Alright, well, good luck."
He must have thought I was crazy. I had planned on making a couple of surprise visits to two of my heroes, one in business - the other in design, but as I walked, I felt like I was trying to cram too much into the day and that I should take the time to slow down a bit and really enjoy a few things instead of checking a bunch of things off of my never-ending "list." It felt good to walk and see so many different things. I really love New York - so much to see, so much to do, so many people from so many different backgrounds. It's just - awesome.
I walked as far as I could before my feet could not longer handle being in the upright position. The Guggenheim was the last thing I wanted to do for the day and after walking about half-way there from The Financial District, I hopped onto the Subway and headed Uptown to 86th and then walked the few blocks the rest of the way to The Guggenheim.
Six years ago, I walked 40 blocks to the Guggenheim, knowing only that I wanted to see the lobby. When I finally arrived, I was stunned to see my favorite artist, Kandinsky, was being featured. With only ten minutes before we had to leave and $20 to my name, I rushed to the gift store searching for a memento. At the end of the ten minutes, I walked out with a $13 set of four magnets depicting Kandinsky paintings, one of which was my all-time favorite - Black Lines. I never saw the lobby. Worth it. [I say that as a former architecture student.]
On this day, I returned to find the ramps closed due to changing exhibitions and the Kandinsky collection reduced to a mere six paintings. [I never seem to have much luck with The Gugg.] I purchased my reduced priced ticket and turned to take my pictures of the lobby - I could at least do that after six years. [No need to picture them here, just Google it and you'll get the idea.] I got in the elevator and made my way to the top to see the featured artist, Doris Salcedo. She was being featured on every floor, except level 3 - the Kandinksy level.
Her work involves altering common household objects or furniture such as a chair, or an armoir as a commentary of various political statements as well as a way to capture and represent memories. That doesn't do it very much justice, but you can read more about her. I've linked to my very favorite piece of hers. I first discovered it while I was in school and actually used the piece to represent dirt/ the ground in my building sections during my Thesis Year. At the time, I had no idea who was responsible for such an amazing installation but knew I wanted to incorporate it. Imagine my surprise that after visiting the Guggenheim, the first time, on a studio related trip - I found the artist of the mysterious work I had used in my studio work three years earlier, on my second, non-studio related trip. It's. Like. A. Circle.
After seeing Doris' work I headed to the third floor to finally see what I came for. After being greeted by a wall bearing his name, I took a breath and rounded the corner. There, on the other side of the wall, was Black Lines. I stopped, gasped, and floated towards it.
I must have stood in front of it for what felt like 20 minutes, getting choked up. I've never been moved by a painting before. Sure, I've appreciated many paintings over the years, but this was different. I could have gladly spent the rest of the trip standing right there - taking it in. I guess I never thought I'd see it in real life. I literally almost cried by myself standing in front of a painting surrounded by complete strangers - but I didn't care. It is just so beautiful, and I'm forever grateful I got to see it in person.
To compose myself and to celebrate, I bought an overpriced brownie and cup of merlot in the adjacent cafe. I sat there taking my time, enjoying every single bite and every sip. I think I wanted to make those couple of hours last as long as I possibly could. Once I noticed that everyone had left the cafe and that the staff was getting ready to shut it down, I made my way back to it and sat for another ten or fifteen minutes gazing. Again, I made my way to the gift shop to purchase a souvenir, and after much deliberation, I chose the bookmarks with my painting printed on one of twelve.
It was truly a beautiful day - a privilege. I spent the day partaking in so many inspiring, moving, and lovely experiences. However, my one-week old shoes traversing over many many many city blocks later, had left my feet just about immobile. My phone was completely dead from taking so many pictures and using my GPS all day, and after the poor judgement in cab choices earlier, I made the decision that I was just TOO far away from my four-day home to make the trip back on an empty battery. Thirty minutes, one partially charged phone, and a medium pumpkin cold-brew later, I made my trek back.
After climbing out of my last subway stop for the day, I began walking home - when who should I run into on the street? Why, my dear friend and host that I hadn't seen in twelve years! [Whoa - twelve years...that's crazy.] We hugged and began chatting as if no time had passed and that we had always been the best of friends. Technology is just so cool - had it not been for Facebook and Instagram, we never would have formed a stronger friendship post High School Graduation. She is simply the loveliest person - sweet, generous, hilarious, witty, chic, the list goes on and on. She had read my post about drinking Merlot in a Frank Lloyd Wright building and was on her way to purchase a bottle as a surprise before I made it back. We made it back to her apartment and she made a spread of sliced french baguettes, prosciutto and wine as a pre-dinner snack.
For dinner, we met her boyfriend at Littleneck's, the cutest little seafood restaurant - and check out that mood lighting. We ordered an array of things to share, including oysters. I was a little hesitant to shoot oysters, as you can see below, but in general, I'm up for anything once. If I don't like it, I never have to do it again - as they say, you'll never know unless you try... I don't think I'll be doing that again. We ate, we drank, we talked, we laughed - it was a delicious and perfect end to an amazing day... just what I needed.