Upon seeing New York City in the movies as a child, I wanted to visit or even live in the spectacular city that never seems to rest. Perhaps not live there forever, but experience it long enough to call myself an urbanite or city slicker, and then move back to the mountains. NYC has an appeal because of its diversity, culture and fashion. Yes, I did say fashion. Strange coming from me, but while I’m not a fashionista myself, I absolutely love the artistic expression of self through fashion and there isn’t a place people do that better than in NYC!
It all started at a bar in Lincoln, Nebraska. My sister and I were wrapping up closing her salon and after a long and emotional day we went for dinner and then for drinks to unwind and process the experience. With the my fortieth birthday on the horizon, we got on the subject of what I wanted to do to celebrate. Without hesitation, the very first thing I said was, “I want to go to fashion week in New York City!” The list continued free flowing from my mouth as if it had been steeping in my heart for quite some time, and I noticed my sister frantically taking notes in her phone. I was only half serious with my wildly improbable list, but she wasn’t; that’s what I love about her. The year of the 40 idea was born.
First on the list - attend fashion week in New York City in February. Improbable? Yes. Neither of us knew where to start. We are not influencers, designers or from the media. But nothing stops my sister and before I knew it, the following annual sister trip was planned for NY Fashion Week, and we were going to take mom to round it out as a girls trip.
Since we were in NY to take in fashion week, we were able to snag some tickets to a runway show. Not on an Anna Wintour level, but a show none the less. My mom caught the eye of the bouncer, how cute, and we were able to sit in the front row! The level of my excitement was off the charts. I knew my sister would enjoy it, but what I didn’t expect? My mom LOVED it. Honestly, I thought that would be the least favorite part of the trip for her, but she is ready to go back to another show! My sister and I were the kind of giddy sisters are from time to time after the show and we walked the runway ourselves. Clearly she knows how to be a model and I don’t! Notice her pouty lips? As for what I’m wearing. I was trying to channel my inner Sarah Jessica Park in tights, but it didn’t quite translate as eloquently.
After the show we were still buzzing so we hit up a local joint called Bills in Midtown. After about thirty minutes, the Housewives of Manhattan walked in. Full of lip filler, bleached and blown out air, perfumed, maxed out on makeup and wearing spanx. They weren’t really the housewives, but they could have been. One of them was having a birthday and they were celebrating. Sarah, who can make friends with anyone, was adopted into the group and before the night was over, we had an invite to the Hamptons! Mom and I watched quietly from our perch at the end of the long, mahogany bar as my sister entertained the crowd. Bills is dark and a bit seedy. It is in the basement of an apartment or office building, and I have no idea how we ran across it, but it is definitely a favorite for the locals.
We stayed in the Essex House across the street from Central Park. It was the closest I came to feeling like a New Yorker!
Despite February temps in New York, I wanted to get up every morning and walk through Central Park. My sister agreed to go under one condition - we must find celery juice on our way back to the hotel! Obliged, we ventured out, but never for long. It was freezing!
Most mornings we managed to find celery juice, much to my chagrin. The juice makers didn’t quite know what to do with an order of pure celery juice, and you can tell by the looks on our faces who is enjoying it more! Health must prevail!
On Saturday we ventured out around Manhattan. On the list was a trip to Bloomingdale’s. Not to shop, but to immerse myself in fashion, in particular, the shoes! I have a secret vice for shoes and ever since SJP stood on the sign announcing her shoe line coming to the iconic store, I wanted to see it for myself.
The trip was not all about fashion. Being the bibliophile that I am, I wanted to see the New York Public Library for the history, architecture and the smell of the stacks of books. The building itself did not disappoint, and I could have spent many more hours wandering the halls to take it all in. Much to my disappointment though, all the books have been moved to an underground vault. The library read more like a museum and less like a library housing books. To use the library as a patron you would request your book at a circulation desk and the minions in the basement would bring the book to you.
They happen to be my new favorites as well. Although you won’t see me wearing them with a dress, they are a perfect bit of statement with jeans and a sweater.
After the library, it was back to fashion. Being a fan of Sarah Jessica Parker, I wanted to visit her pop-up shop on 52nd street. Her SJP Collection of shoes are one of my favorite lines of shoes because they are true art pieces. They are wonderfully bright, come in a variety of styles, and seem to make the wearer both sassy and empowered simultaneously. Not expecting to purchase anything because my feet are not made for narrow heels, I was dismayed when I found a pair of slouchy boots I couldn’t live without, and were comfortable. I declared them my year of the 40 boots and I was thrilled when a few weeks after purchasing my Reign boots I see none other than SJP herself sporting the same pair during an interview - declaring them her favorite.
One of the most anticipated moments of the trip was our evening at the Richards Rogers Theater to see the acclaimed production of Hamilton. Albeit sitting in the very last row of the theater I was mesmerized by the craft of live stage acting. The talent, set and costumes were astounding. Sadly, Hamilton was not a favorite, much to others’ shock and awe, but I’m grateful to have experienced a Broadway show.
We are still singing the King George song You’ll Be Back. If you have had the opportunity to see the show, you know which song I’m talking about! He was a highlight of the show.
I was not the only one celebrating a birthday. When my mom turned 60, sadly, we didn’t do anything fun for her birthday. Part of the this girls trip was to also celebrate her. We made a new friend of the manager, Diego, at Rosie O’Grady’s in Times Square late one night. A charming New Yorker, he sat with us most of dinner and decided we couldn’t leave without celebrating our birthdays. A round of drinks and some delicious cheesecake rounded out our fun evening with Diego and it was a nice reminder to indulge a little from time to time.
Early the following morning, after too many cocktails with Diego, Sarah and I headed to the Peloton studio for a spin class. Emma Lovewell, my favorite instructor, was teaching an early morning ride and I wanted to experience a live ride in the studio with her. It was probably the hardest ride I’ve ever taken due the to the fact I was a bit hungover, but I stuck it out and was happy to capture a photo with her after class. One of us still looks fresh…
We packed so much into this long weekend trip and we barely left a three mile radius of the city. There is so much more to explore and I’m looking forward to going back again. This time walking in Central Park without celery juice! Manhattan was everything I thought it would be and then some. It was the quintessential New York I grew up watching in Nora Ephron movies. Next I hope to visit artsy Brooklyn and other grittier, neighboring boroughs. This trip jump started the year of the 40 and I’m grateful to my mom and sister for joining me. They made the trip memorable.
P.S. Doesn’t my sister look like a 70’s era rock star from the back in her skinny jeans and (faux) fur coat?