This year I'm spending Thanksgiving break with Georgina, Ami, Grace, and Victoria at Georgina's house in New York City. We've been anticipating this trip ever since fall break. And finally, after turning in my group paper for Cities and going to Chinese class and presenting my oral, it's here!
Our bags packed, we hustle over to catch the SEPTA to get to the Megabus stop at 30th Street Station. It's the day before Thanksgiving, so public transportation is crazy. We walk all the way down to the first car and grab whatever empty seat we can find, which unfortunately means we don't get to sit together. On the bright side, #1 we don't get ticketed because the ticketer can't keep track of everyone, and #2 the stranger next to me strikes up some lovely conversation. When we split ways at 30th Street Station, we bid each other happy holidays. I think that was the first time I've talked to a stranger on public transportation about something other than directions. Strangers who initiate conversation make me so happy, because I don't have the courage to do it myself, but it's something I rather do enjoy.
A three hour bus ride and thirty minute taxi ride later, we arrive at the foot of Georgina's apartment where we spend some time figuring out how to get the door open. The concierge must have looked at us funny through the lobby's glass walls wondering what the heck we were trying to do. Alas, the door is no match for us, and soon enough we break ourselves in in a civilized manner and ride the elevator up to the fifteenth floor where we're reunited with Georgina, who had left a day earlier.
Georgina's mom Barbara is at the front door, holding it open and greeting us by name as we enter the house (which I'm very impressed and touched by :')). Georgina's dad Greg is already in the kitchen prepping dinner (linguini with clam sauce). Lulu the dachshund quickly makes herself known. With Lulu preoccupied, Echo the cat sneaks her way into Lulu's bed. With everyone here, the festivities begin.
And by festivities, I mean staying up until 1AM watching movies (~wild), sleeping in until noon, having brunch, spending an hour or two figuring out what to do with the day, going out for a short walk with what daylight we have left, coming back home, stuffing ourselves with dinner, and repeat. It's like magic. Sleep is a time machine to brunch, food already prepared. Eat. Go out. Muck around. Come back. And voila. More food appears before us. Thank you Georgina's parents for spoiling us rotten!
You think I'm oversimplifying our daily routine, but that is really all we were up to. No plans. It's kinda strange being in New York City and not doing New York City things like visiting museums, shopping in Times Square, ordering from food trucks, having bagels, spending afternoons at hip cafes, etc.
New York City is one of those places you go to do things at. You don't go there to hole up in a hotel room all day (or maybe you do if you're like my brothers). You don't go there and eat at McDonalds (well actually sometimes it's interesting to see how McDonalds menus differ in different countries, but you get what I mean). Yet, the most New York thing we do is stroll through Central Park, not even to see the Bethesda Fountain or anything, but just because it's on the way back to Georgina's house.
It's freeing, going at our own pace amidst the bustling city. Well, if we're literally talking about paces, I personally derive an unreasonable amount of pride and pleasure from keeping up a fast-walking pace rivaling local New Yorkers or Hong Kongnese, but what I mean is being able to take life at our own pace, without anywhere we need to be or go. I entertain myself by running across crosswalks and turning back to sing to my friends trailing behind me, "HELLO FROM THE OTHER SIIIIIIIDE" (-Adele).
The sky bursts into flames as the sun sinks behind the horizon, a few hours too early for my liking, but that's winter for you. As the colors settle down into the darkness of night, New York City lights it right back up--not in vibrant technicolor but in tiny twinkling lights.
Remember that stranger on the SEPTA I mentioned? Well, he was telling me about how he loves the city in the winter. Yeah it's colder and darker, but that only makes all the festive lights on the streets shine brighter. There's a certain energy about the holidays that I can't help but buy into. If you're in that mood, you might enjoy reading Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (reading level: middle/high school). Lights, books, and a warm beverage--not coffee because my stranger friend doesn't like coffee and I prefer something richer anyway--is all I need.
I don't know my stranger friend's name, and nor he mine. We will probably never meet again. And that's fine, expected even. It makes me think about how many other people I've passed like ships in the night. And it makes me think about some people who I've tried to desperately hold onto. And how it doesn't matter. I don't even remember who those people are anymore, though I do remember the feeling. I wonder what my first grade Student Council partner is up to nowadays. Probably saving the world idk.
What I know is that I have all the people I need with me, and I don't need to keep looking for more. It's hard to remember that when all you hear about is how important networking is, how every encounter is an opportunity to market yourself (gotta find a job yo). Of course, I always welcome more people into my life, but today I want to be thankful for the people I have--my family, my friends, the people who I don't necessarily know well but make my community what it is, the strangers I've met so far.
If you're wondering how you fit in there, be assured that I am thankful for you, and I hope that you find a friend in me. I'm thankful for everyone who reads this erratic inconsistency I call my blog (yeah I know that was redundant) (I'm thankful for you putting up with that). I'm thankful for the people I've crossed paths with, the countless number of you that I remember but have been trying to play it cool with so that I don't freak you out with all the random details I recall from that one time we met. I blame the introvert observer in me. Like, my stranger friend probably didn't write a blog post about our encounter like I did.
Now that we're done giving thanks, let's get onto the important part: FOOD! So many nomz. Not photographed is the two slices of pumpkin pie and three scoops of vanilla ice-cream I devoured. Well. There's not much else to say about it. It was delicious. I ate it. #foodcoma. It's gonna be tough reverting back to dining hall food for the last three weeks of school.
Follow me on Snapchat if you'd like to tag along on my adventures in real time! Because I don't update my blog nearly as often as I should :( It's been an eventful time in New York City. Georgina got us all bubble tea upon arrival, the amazing hostess that she is. We pulled out air mattresses into the living room to watch Spirited Away (dubbed in French because the English dub was gross but idk why we didn't just watch it in Japanese) and Peter Pan (the bonus feature alternate ending is hilarious). I had hot cider in the morning with a real stick of cinnamon floating in it. We walked by Best Buy at 3:00PM on Thanksgiving day and there was already a huge line winding around the store for Black Friday (x). I ate my first brussels sprout and it wasn't as horrible as all those American movies make it seem.
And I met up with Kathleen and Kevin! Georgina, Ami, Grace, Victoria, and I made a pit stop at the Museum of Feelings before meeting up with them, but the line was too long so we decided to satisfy ourselves with the waterfront by which the Museum of Feelings was exhibiting. Once at Koreatown, of course our first stop there was to a milk tea shop, Gong Cha, which was right across the food court we had dinner at, where I ordered ddeokbokki with cheese. It was so great seeing Kevin after three years, and of course it's always so much fun catching up with Kathleen, eating and talking until it was time for me to catch the Megabus back to Philly. I'm going to miss this break filled with food and friends!
Let's keep the Thanksgiving spirit going as we power through the last few weeks of the semester.
There’s a small habit that I practice, that can turn difficult situations into much better ones — and it won’t surprise you. It’s the habit of gratitude. This is such a simple habit, and it’s one that we often forget to practice. But when we do, it can transform our entire perspective, and with it our whole life... When I procrastinate with a project, I can look at why I’m grateful to be able to work on that project. -Leo Babauta @ Zen Habits
PS: Thanksgiving 2014 @ SF, Fall Break 2014 @ NYC