Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Final Countdown: 15

Have you ever been to New York City during Christmas time? I took a hellish 10-hour bus trip a few years ago with my mom but, once we arrived, it was an experience like I've never had in my life! It just feels like Christmas was invented in New York! The hustle and bustle you hear written about in Silver Bells had to have been happening in Manhattan. The song Baby It's Cold Outside must have been describing some NYC holiday fete. Or so I always imagined it... Who knows? Maybe I just watched Home Alone 2: Lost in New York one too many times. But who hasn't really? 

Honestly, nothing can compare to the feeling of actually seeing, hearing, smelling and feeling the city during the month of December. Snow (well, sludge) dusted the streets while the air spit wet flurries at the thousands of shoppers who carried bulky bags and bumped into one another, laughing it off like they were all in this mess together. More people poured out of revolving doors into the streets as we passed every single store. But the window displays were exquisite things to behold! And if I remember one lesson from this experience, it's that I'm going to be doing my holiday shopping a few months ahead of time. Trying to pop into the 34th St. Macy*s resulted in the most insane "salmon swimming upstream" moment of my entire life as hundreds of people charged toward the doors to get out of the store. I could barely get a leg inside before giving up, and heading back out into the cold.

After the stress of the crowds got to us, we found a restaurant and warmed up inside for as long as we could, getting a chance to catch up with Ryan Dean (my future New York roomie!) during his break between matinee and evening theater bar-tending. Finally, we met our bus group at Rockefeller Plaza, where I saw a man get down on one knee and propose to his girlfriend in front of the giant Christmas tree. She said yes, of course, and the huge crowd of people surrounding them erupted in applause! It was crowded, but because there were so many faceless people there, it was kind of like the two of them had their own little moment together anyway...

Then I bumped into Ed Westwick (Chuck Bass on Gossip Girl) outside 30 Rock, where he was smoking a cigarette and shivering without a coat! He was surprisingly not mobbed by throngs of teenage girls like you'd imagine. Instead he was just enjoying a quiet moment, standing there next to me, watching the snow fall. While I was glad to get back on the bus and head home, just to get out of the cold and snow, I felt a little heartsick for the energy of the city. And while I'll be missing my first NYC Christmas this time around, I will spend the entire year looking forward to what that experience will be like as a true New Yorker. Only 15 days to go!


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