New York Narratives: Grace’s Thanksgiving

On Wednesday night before Thanksgiving day, I arrived at JFK International airport, tired and hangry, to meet up with my family for a New York City getaway.

My mom had won tickets to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a spectacle I had watched every single year on TV. Now, I got to see the real thing. Hello, Big Apple! I’ve missed you.

We took a tram to the subway station we thought would take us to Hotel Plaza Athenee. When we got to the subway station, though, it turns out Train E had HIT A PASSENGER, and a BODY WAS UNDER THE TRAIN.

So… we found a different subway station and a different train to take us to where we needed to go.

Our hotel was lovely. I will say, though, that they focused so hard on being fancy that it took a way a certain level of coziness. Being indoors was a nice, hot contrast to the freezing outdoors, however, so I can’t complain too much about my accommodations.

That night, we went to an easy, close-by Italian restaurant for dinner that I can’t quite remember the name of. I got some penne bolognese, and it was exactly what I needed after a crazy day of travel. We immediately hit our beds after dinner.

The next morning, my alarm went off at approximately 5:25 a.m. Reminder, I was still on Pacific Coast Time, so for me this was more like 2:25 a.m. I had a nice adrenaline rush kick me out of my bed and get me ready for the wild day ahead, but I definitely got hit with waves of extreme exhaustion here and there. My mom came into my room to help me fix my hair. I wanted to look put together for the parade. This was a big deal. A once in a life time deal. My hair needed to look good.

Thank the heavens above, my mother decided to order us an Uber to the parade. Previously, we had discussed maybe biking through the park, but with the temperatures outside, I don’t think I would’ve survived that adventure. The Uber kept me warm.

When we showed up the street we were to enter the parade at, a line wrapped around several blocks greeted us. My jaw dropped. I was not used to these winds. My patience is thin to begin with.

This would be quite the experience.

We found our way to the back of the line, after walking for over ten minutes to even get there. We shivered and listened to the groups around us socialize. We spent maybe an hour in that line. Finally, there was some movement, and eventually, we actually scanned our tickets to enter the parade.

We then waited in a different line to be directed to our seating.

Then, we sat in the middle of some bleachers. Very, very cold bleachers.

We then waited another several hours. I thought I would die.

No food. Brutal winds. Constant swirl of complaints from the others around me. Recipe for sudden death.

Then, at 9:02, the turkey float started to move. We were towards the very front of the parade, so at least we had that going for us.

FINALLY, the parade actually began, and my mood boosted zero to a hundred in a matter of minutes.

We were located across from an alley where the winds were stronger, so every time a balloon was brought across our section, the team carrying said balloon would find intense struggle in controlling its movement.

It was one of the most entertaining things I’ve ever seen. People were being whacked by these huge balloon characters. Some people even fell trying to hold on to the chaotic vessels. At times, I really thought the balloons would come into the crowd, crushing us all. It was fantastic! And I got footage of it all!

We saw Jimmy Kimmel, Idina Menzel, Lea Michele, and more. It was a day to be grateful for, indeed.

Like all good things, however, the parade eventually came to an end. My stomach was pretty happy about this, as I still hadn’t eaten anything all day.

My mom and I boarded a bike-carriage to take us across Central Park back to our hotel. My feet and legs were frozen still, so walking was a big no-go.

The ride was lovely. We went to a cafe after warming up at our hotel called “Eat Here Now.” I got some delicious scrambled eggs and hash browns. I forgot they sell Pepsi, not Coke, in the North, so I drank a Pepsi… thinking it was a Coke.

After eating, we took a little nap to revive. Then we walked from our hotel to Rockefeller Center, where what felt like millions of other tourists also gathered to do touristy-things.

The city was so beautiful! Decorations and lights brought even more vibrance to an already poppin’ city. I felt so alive and free. We then made our way to Times Square, where we retreated into stores for warmth and browsing and avoided the creepy people dressed as characters that would tap on us asking for pictures ($$$).

We wasted time at the M&M store, Sunglass Hut, and the Disney Store, until it was finally time for our dinner reservation at 5 p.m. at dB Moderne Bistro. We chose from a set Thanksgiving menu. I ordered pumpkin soup, turkey with mashed potatoes and stuffing, and a nice chocolate lava cake for desert. It was FANTASTIC. Definitely a meal to remember. My family reflected on all we were grateful for in 2019. It was a wonderful feast.

Afterwards, I met up with my friend Jerry Dann, and we went to Birdland Jazz Club to watch a show by Veronica Swift. Upon entrance, they gave us a drink ticket. The bartender gave me a lovely pomegranate mojito. I had three more after using up my drink ticket. The band was grand. I had never been a huge fan of jazz, but this particular club was the place of dreams. I felt so adult and independent. I thought of all the possibilities New York has to offer dreamers like these musicians, and like me.

After the show was over, Jerry and I headed back to Times Square to take it all in before going to bed for the night.

The next day, my family walked to Serendipity 3 for lunch. The dainty little place had the most adorable decorations. Very fit for Instagram, great marketing strategy! The extravagant platters only added to the aesthetic. We had wings and potato skins as appetizers, and I got chicken tenders for my lunch (so much for feeling those adult vibes of the jazz club). After, we all shared an outstanding hot fudge sundae that blew up on social media. This amazing food was starting to inspire me, and I decided to start a food instagram account! Follow @graceoneartheats 

After lunch, we headed to the Christmas markets in Union Square. If I lived in New York, this is 100% where I would do all of my holiday shopping. They had the coolest trinkets, foods, and arts. There wasn’t a dull moment spent in Union Square that day. I met up with my good friend Olivia, who’s from NYC. We caught up as we looked around and tried different tasters being offered in our faces. I had a delicious chocolate-covered pretzel.

We then met up with Jerry and his family in SOHO, where the Black Friday deals attracted thousands of others. We went into several stores, but nothing called out to my soul enough for me to bring out my wallet. I enjoyed browsing, though.

After I said my farewell to Olivia, my family & Jerry headed back to my hotel to hang out before we headed out for the night.

I had some tasty French onion soup at the hotel restaurant, and a cucumber drink called the “Gracenote.” Our waiter made mine ‘special’ when I told him my name was Grace.

That night, we saw the broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen.” It was beautiful. I wish I had gotten to see Ben Platt in Evan’s role, as I am a huge fan, but it was still spectacular. Tears were shed, and laughs were had. The message was a necessary one to be shared in today’s age.

After, I met up with Jerry again to go to a party with one of our other friends in an apartment near the Empire State Building. I had a great time making new friends. I don’t think the girls liked me as much, but their boys did, so I wasn’t too shaken by it. I could understand why they were so cold – the temperature outside! The freezing winds were enough to make even the warmest hearts frigid, I couldn’t blame it on them.

The next day, we headed to Little Italy. I got calamari and penne arrabbiata at Paesano’s. It was exactly what I had been craving. We then walked around Chinatown, until making our way to Wall Street. We watched some street performers with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge in the background. Eventually, we made our way to the 9/11 memorial. I wondered if anyone had ever attempted to jump into the fountain, and what would happen if they did. Also, where does the middle fountain lead to? It looks like quite the abyss.

We strolled to a lovely subway station, where we enjoyed milkshakes from Haagen-Dazs. Then we took the train back to the hotel for (you guessed it!) another nap.

For dinner, we headed to Delmonico’s. Upon arrival, I immediately recognized the place. I had seen an Impractical Joker’s episode they held at this place! I liked it already. The service, however, ended up being kind of iffy, and it took a while to get food onto our table. The steak did not disappoint, though. I will give it an 8/10. Not too bad. The whipped potatoes were also satisfying.

It was a great last supper in New York. On the drive back, I watched the city pass across the water. I love that city so much. So many different stories. So many different opportunities. So much life.

The next day I had to return to LA for a final week of classes at USC. I was sad to return, but also in need of warm weather. If I lived in New York, I would definitely need a new closet. I’ll look into that later on, though. For now I am happy in LA and Atlanta.

New York, you still do have a piece of my soul. I look forward to returning soon.

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