Wednesday // December 13th // Day 1.
Yesterday morning I woke up at 5:30am half-awake, half drunk on a few hours of sleep. I was supposed to take an exam in the morning before my flight to NYC, but knowing I would benefit from some more study time, I chose to sleep in longer, and study for the exam time in the evening rather than take my test at 6am.
Two hours later, I woke up with a sense of excitement, disbelief, and weariness. It was the last day of the semester, and the first of a week of a much-needed adventure. I stumbled around my house trying to wake up and gather the last few things I needed to get to the Big Apple. I left one too many dish in the sink, and enough laundry on the floor to make my life a little stressful when I get back, but it was totally worth it.
I fly out of Nashville’s airport (BNA) often, so I’m no stranger to the unpredictable security lines and country music stars welcoming people to Nashville over the loudspeakers. The benefits of TSA Pre-Check mean that I get to bypass the unpredictable lines, and today I traded the country music stars for some George Ezra as I motivated myself to study. After a latte, I settled at the terminal to study some pathophysiology and wait for my delayed flight. The high winds in NYC had forced planes to delay their trips north, so after a rather uneventful flight for the amount of high winds I knew were there, my Southwest flight landed in LaGuardia.
I expected there to be snow and I expected frigid winds. It wasn’t too bad at first. I jumped so quickly between the airport and the shuttle to the Uber that there wasn’t a lot of time to feel the cold. However, when I got to my friend’s apartment, I quickly put on my gloves and my headband to keep out the wind.
Unfortunately, I spent my first seven hours in New York City studying and taking an exam. But, oh, the next five hours were glorious.
My friend, Christy, and I decided to go to Momofuku’s Noodle Bar for dinner. It’s Christy’s favorite Ramen place in NYC and she has done her research! It was wonderful. I had never eaten ramen at a restaurant before, but I’m a fan of the store-bought kind that everyone survived on in college. I also love ethnic food, so I was sure I was going to love it when I stepped in the door and saw bowls piled with pork, vegetables, and noodles.
Christy and I ordered pork buns as well meaning that my first bite of food in NYC was an incredibly savory yet subtly sweet pork bun that I want to learn how to make so that I can eat it every day. For ramen, we ordered Momofuku’s Ramen that came with pork, pork belly, seaweed, soft boiled egg, and green onions as well as a million noodles. We both came home with leftovers so we’ll see how it is tomorrow when we eat it! I absolutely loved it. I love a lot of things, but this ramen was so full of flavor and it complemented the runny yolk of the egg that I mixed into my ramen broth.
We also decided to try soju for the first time. Soju is a type of alcohol from South Korea that has an alcohol content between wine and liquor. Surprisingly, we both thought it tasted like vodka. It’s traditionally taken as shots and the drinking of soju is considered an important part of South Korean culture both among the old and the younger generations. There’s even a culturally appropriate way to drink soju (It’s taken to the side rather than facing across the table). We didn’t do that.
Embarrassed by our lack of knowledge of soju, we just decided to sip it. So we sat their sipping soju.
We thought we would go back home and rest, but no. Both of us being curious, dreaming, overachievers (a dangerous combination), that didn’t happen. We quickly decided to go to the Subway and take a trip to 5th Avenue and see the lights. The most magical moment happened when we stepped out of the subway and immediately Christy asked,
“Is that snow?”
It literally had just started to snow. So magical! We walked 5th Avenue until our feet were sore and our hands frozen. It was enchanting to walk past the Saks 5th Avenue store front with windows that are Snow White themed this year, and to see flagship stores in all of their glory. Unfortunately, the lights on the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree were turned off, but we’re going back again to see them soon.
And the snow just kept coming down! It had just started to pile up when we turned and saw Times Square. After debating for 2 seconds whether to go home or go to Times Square, we caved and walked towards the NYC landmark.
Y’all. I kid you not. It was so cold. But so beautiful. And there wasn’t a crowd at all!! There were probably a total of 200 people total in Times Square, so we had most of the place to fool around with taking pictures and dancing in the snow. We paused for a brief, but liberating, moment where we went into Gap (that was open at 1am for some reason?) and wandered looking at leather pants and fur jackets all the while searching for some warmer ear muffs for Christy.
Eventually, we wandered back into the streets and enjoyed the bright lights from the screens and the still-falling snow. A photographer was walking around taking pictures, and he snapped a candid one of us. He showed it to us briefly and said he would send it our way, so I hope he does! It was so cute!
After both of our phones died, we took it as a sign to enjoy the snow without technology. Then, we grabbed a taxi (a unique must-do NYC experience), and headed home to some hot tea and warm blankets.
And it’s only day one!!