While today is Christmas it didn’t quite feel like Christmas. The magic is gone. Adult cynicism has crept in, Santa is an obese man with Type 2 Diabetes and over grown facial hair, presents just aren’t that exciting or surprising anymore. That is not to say that I didn’t have a very lovely day. One of my oldest friends, who currently lives in Los Angeles, is in town with her father. The two of us spent the day wandering through the city. While New York may be the city that never sleeps it sure does shut down for Christmas. Still, I was reminded of just why I love this crazy city so much. The bagels and pizza alone are enough to keep anyone here for a lifetime.
My friend and I concluded our day at Rockefeller Center because she and her dad had tickets to see the Rockettes. We were met by a barrage of people the second we exited the subway. I had a moment where pure hatred coursed through my veins. This was why I had not yet ventured to this part of town even though the lights and tree are truly spectacular, even for those who are Grinches and Scrooges. Then, I let it all go, we had an hour to traverse three blocks, there was no rush, nowhere to be. For reasons I cannot quite fathom there were Elmo’s, in what were quite possibly the worst costume replicas ever, on every corner. While hundreds of kids were being posed by parents to have their photos taken I couldn’t help but wonder, “Aren’t there some more astute than average five year olds in this crowd who are going to be either very weary or very freaked out by the fact that there are multiple Elmos strolling the streets of New York?” There was also an atrociously bad Blue’s Clue’s dog, Cookie Monster, and Dora. Apparently Elmo and Dora are good buddies. Who knew? As we made our way through the sea of people I got trampled, literally, a woman stepped right on my foot to get to a sprawl of fake name brand handbags on the sidewalk. I hope that $10 Channel purse was worth it. Just wait until the lining comes out and one of the straps breaks after two uses lady, it will really be worth the pushing and shoving then. I also had a stroller pushed directly into me. Apparently spacial awareness becomes inconsequential when you have metal and plastic shielding you from others, so what if your kid loses a limb in the battle, you will have gotten from point A to point B faster then everyone else, no small victory in this large crowd of people.
Once we finally got to Radio City Music Hall I saw two people walking with Godiva milkshakes. Yes, in wall-to-wall people I notice the two holding Godiva milkshakes, what can I say? Within two minutes I had steered my friend and I to the Godiva shop half a block away. We survived the European tourist who needed to cut in front of us on line to stand by her friend. I also survived her shouting in my ear, “No 100 dollar of 50 dollar bills!” After one of the saleswomen announced they could not make change anymore and the barely English speaking friend of this cutting, yelling woman asked, “What?” We got to the front of the line, ordered our milkshakes, then patiently waited for our cups of bliss.
We strolled out of the Godiva store and over to the tree with our milkshakes. The insanity by the tree was like nothing I have ever seen. There were swarms of photographers wanting to take family photos for all of the tourists in front of the tree. I’m quite certain my friend and I will be in the background of at least 100 of these photos. Families will pull out their photos to share with loved ones back home and grandparents will ask, “Who are those women behind you that look totally blissed out sucking down Godiva milkshakes? How much did you pay for this? You can’t even see the tree behind you.”
After we finished our way too small cups of heaven we wandered through the throngs of people and magically found a little pocket that provided safety from strollers, merchandise hawkers, and those just generally lacking in spacial awareness. It was from our little alcove that I realized just how much I love this city. New York City has the best people watching, bar none. The plethora of characters, the overheard tidbits of conversations, the everyday folk who have been pushed so far out of their comfort zones of suburban middle America that they simply do not know what to do with themselves, the tragic fashion faux pas, the people who manage to remain perfectly pulled together even after wading through a sea of pushing people and children with elbows that find random places on strangers’ bodies to connect with. All of these people had gathered in one tiny radius of this city to take in a bit of tradition, a bit of beauty, a bit of magic. In an overcrowded, loud, smelly, dirty city filled with pushing and yelling, there are pockets of wonderment to be found.