November 15, 2022

The Joy of Trip Giving

I had no idea how much joy gifting a trip to New York City would bring me. Months later, I am still beaming with how happy I feel from the short two nights we were there. So many elements made it one of the most worthwhile trips I may have ever planned. What made it so? You’ll have to read on to find out.

Travel While You’re Young

Europe 2001
About a year ago, I became mildly obsessed with my oldest nephew (nephew 1 in this blog), aged 21 years old, getting over to Europe. I was 20 years old when I went, and turned 21 there. It was a magical time in my life that I never would trade for anything. Because I am the travel aficionado in my family, I decided to shove that idea onto him in hopes of him embracing it. The bottom line is: we aren’t the same people, and the times have drastically changed. Gone are the days of Internet cafes and calling cards to let your family know you’re not dead as you’re gallivanting through Western Europe. His trip would likely be riddled with texts and phone calls from concerned parties, friends asking 1000 questions. You Gen Xers know what I’m talking about. We had it made in the shade.

Start Spreading the News!

After several discovery discussions, we finally came to an understanding that he would like to go on a trip with me. What?? A young person wants to go with an old fart? I was quite taken aback, I won’t lie. I was also a little leery of how a trip with a 21 year old would pan out. I’m not used to traveling with kids of any age, so this would be an adventure. We settled on a domestic trip to New York City, picked up his 18 year old brother (nephew 2) along the way as a fellow travel companion, and my husband got FOMO and jumped on board. The four of us were off to the Big Apple. Start spreading the news!

First Step: Book Airline Tickets

Our flights got booked first. They were a reasonable rate with Southwest Air. The hotel was booked next through my Delta SkyMiles account with my Delta Amex. We were set as far as getting there and where we were staying. The activities could wait a hair longer. Agonizing over which Broadway musical to see, I finally made the choice for all of us to see Beetlejuice. Everything else was loosely planned with no real agenda. Everyone got input, and everyone was agreeable. Could travel really be this harmonious? Apparently, yes. Yes it can be.

No Matter How Long You Plan….Shit Can Go Wrong

The day of the trip, we excitedly headed to MSY airport, chauffeured by my dad. The flight was late morning, and we would get there just in time to get a great dinner. Except that after going through security, we found out that our flight was CANCELED. I was in denial and walked down to the gate to find a line as long as the Mississippi River waiting to ask the same thing: what the actual you-know-what? We hauled it back to the ticket counter and I waited in an ungodly line there, among agitated wannabe fliers like myself. When it was finally my turn, the woman, who seemed to have been in this position for approximately 8 minutes, could not seem to get a reasonable itinerary for me. I told her to cancel everything, both ways, and that I’d be re-booking with old faithful, Delta. But not until the next day, since there were no more flights left to NYC that fateful Thursday.

How Am I Going to Salvage this Infernal Trip?

Drinking the Blues Away
As our chauffeur came back to get us, I was totally frustrated and dejected. Would they refund my hotel night? Does Delta have 4 spaces in the aircraft for us to salvage this long-awaited trip? When we got home, I got busy booking, canceling, and swizzling things around. Lo and behold, we were booked, refunded, and the trip was back on. It took everything out of me not to bust open the wine until post 5 pm, but I was successful. Why did I even care at that point? Oh yeah…nephews watching. I’m not a total deadbeat, y’all. And we took them to eat Mexican food as a consolation to them and ourselves. Margarrrrrrritas!

Things Are Looking Up!

Obligatory Photo at Sarge’s Deli
Bright and early on day 2, we were picked up by our trusty driver and hauled to the airport at 5 am. Hooray! Our 7 am flight was on time, and we got there early. I was even upgraded to Comfort+. Our arrival was snappy, we got an Uber (mistake, always take the cab in NYC), and headed to our amazingly situated hotel, Archer New York. We were smack in the middle of Midtown, and so was our lunch spot, Sarge’s Deli. A little walk there, and we were loaded with kosher pickles,  mile high sandwiches, burgers, fries, and some kind of fried ball someone got. It was a great way to start our 48 hour jaunt.

Sometimes the Younger Folks Have Good Ideas

Getting Our Own Private Concert
We walked and walked that first day. We walked to the Steinway showroom on 5th Avenue, where piano playing nephew 2 went to town. We had a private concert while he played a medley on a $125,000 piano. NBD. After a while, we were politely evicted but, oh no, we were not leaving yet! Not before seeing how the $210,000 piano worked. While nephew 2 nerded out with the resident piano expert, we eagerly watched. The piano recorded his tune, she clickity clicked on her iPad, and voila. His tune was playing on said piano. It was a fabulous experience that we never would’ve had if nephew 2 had not been with us.

On Broadway, On Broadway

Calle Dao
After more walking, we decided to cut it off and go back to the hotel for a rest before seeing Beetlejuice. All but one nephew, nephew 1, took a snooze. I mean, we had been up since 4 am and the show was probably 3 hours long. I felt like $1M after the rest, and we headed over to the restaurant we collectively chose. Can I just say that it was one of the best dining experiences ever? From the food to the theatrical server, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to kick off our night. Next stop was the Times Square area to see our Broadway musical choice. By the end, everyone was utterly blown away and ebullient. It was a win. I was feeling good about my little self. Choosing well so far. Let’s not stop there, though.

Quintessential NYC Things

Walking the High Line
The next morning was a little bit of “hey honey, take a walk on the High Line” (and that is to the beat of Walk on the Wild Side, thank you). So we did. It was hotter than heck but we got some reprieve at the Chelsea Market, which was on nephew 1’s list of to-dos. He loved it, and I love the gelato. It was a nice break, and from there we hauled it to the 9/11 memorial, another nephew 1 request. As it should be, really. He was around 1 year old when it happened. Crazy. We had some moments there, pushed on to Battery Park to get a view of the old lady, and headed to a Parisian clothing shop that I have come to adore from my time in Paris. As I stood at the checkout, I kept willing my husband to back away far enough from the register so as to not hear the final price. He did. Whew.

1:1 Time with Nephew 1

QT on the Rooftop
After that, we were all physically and monetarily drained, and we went off to take a rest at the trusty hotel. It was a good idea, and everyone fell asleep for a while. It was just so hot there. Not hot enough to wake up, dress (in one of my new articles of clothing, mind you), and head to the rooftop bar with nephew 1! We enjoyed some 1-1 time, had a cocktail, good chat, and then had to book it to our next stop: dinner! 

Please Order the Most Expensive Thing on the Menu

The dinner was met with conversation, laughter, memories, and so much joy. We invited my old friend Leigh to join us, and she was a great addition to the evening. The food was superb, nephew 2 got a filet Mignon for good measure, and we drank 2 bottles of wine. Once in a while it’s nice to indulge. And hey, no one was driving. As if that wasn’t enough, we hit one more spot for one more drink, then called it a night. I knew I would be paying for this the next day, and we were not done with NYC quite yet. We had Central Park to see, after all.

Too Much Booze

Central Park
Ugh! Two bottles of wine plus some was too much, and we struggled our way out of bed to see Central Park on our last morning. I would not have been able to live with myself if I took my nephews to New York and didn’t take them to Central Park. We went near the Metropolitan Museum of Art, took some pictures, roamed around a bit, saw a plethora of cute dogs happily frolicking in various areas of the park, then jumped in a cab and went back to the hotel. Time to shower, pack, and go to our final meal in the Big Apple. The meal was delicious and in a fun part of the city, so we walked near NYU and Washington Square Park. We headed back to the hotel to wait for our cab for the airport. Our trip to New York had come to an end.

Gifting Myself in the End

Life gave me an experience I will cherish forever. Being with my nephews at this age and stage in life was a gift that I had no idea I was giving myself. I hope they look back on this much later and are grateful for all of our time together. While I know they are more than grateful now, memories of things like this give you the warm and fuzzies. Making people feel special, worthy, and loved are things that I want most out of life. This trip was an acknowledgement of these things for them. What a gift.

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