Both of times were before 9/11, and I have wanted to see the 9/11 memorial for years. Ellen wanted to see a Broadway show, pay a second visit to the tenement museum, and eat some good meals.
So I kind of knew what would be happening. But I really didn't. That's pretty common when I travel.
Here's what I learned in those four New York days.
1. If your Tucson-to-Dallas airplane slides around on the runway while taking off, and your Dallas-to-LaGuardia flight lands so hard you're scared, you still arrive safely.
2. If you have a meal at the airport before departing for your Airbnb, you don't get cranky when your traveling companion's futon breaks as she sits down on it, and you go along in a friendly way when she wants to go to the market at 10 at night.
3. If you go six rounds with your Airbnb host because they think you broke the futon and should pay for it, and you know it was broken when you walked into the apartment, you can arrive at a cordial compromise after the super of the apartment building visits you twice. You still know it was broken when you walked in, but sometimes you let things go and split the cost of the super's time with your host. And you leave the nut and machine bolt that came loose from the futon frame on the table on your way out.
4. Lyft is a handy transportation method, but once you figure out how to use public transportation like buses and subways you can get around pretty well. You will still have to walk a lot, though.
5. If you bring along only shoes with no arch support, and you walk three to six miles a day on city sidewalks, you will hurt from your feet to your hips. And if you don't realize the problem is with your shoes until the last day, you will think you are finally falling apart at the age of 71. If you are traveling with a good and caring friend, she will go with you to buy new shoes on the last day. And even if the Brooks Ariel walking shoes cost $175, including tax, you will buy them and be grateful you brought a credit card along. And you wonder why you haven't bought good walking shoes in the last five years, even though you've taken multiple trips and your body has hurt every time.
6. If your friend wants to try a tiny Iranian restaurant, you go willingly, because you remember an Iranian at a refugee camp in Greece who cooked for you several times. And then, after your meal, you talk to the cook and tell him the story about the Iranian in the refugee camp who cooked for you, the cook in the restaurant kisses your hand and gives you a huge hug, and thanks you for reminding him of the days before he left his homeland to come to New York. As you leave, you say, "Welcome to the United States of America."
7. If you visit the Lower East Side Tenement Museum you learn about more of the people who came here from other places, and you appreciate all over again how much difference a storytelling tour guide can make in bringing these people to life. And you are, again, grateful for your own fortunate life. And you eat at Katz' Deli, which is less than a half mile away.
8. A Broadway musical is especially enjoyable when you know most of the songs going in. We saw "Beautiful", the story of Carole King. What was even better was the magnificent set and the staging.
9. When you visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum, the day comes back to you. You remember where you were and what you were doing that morning, and how you felt. When you sit in a room listening to some of the victims' recorded stories, everyone is totally silent. It's like a place of worship.
10. If you are lucky enough to spend an evening with friends of your traveling companion, you may enjoy hors d'oeuvres at a Chinese place, an interesting lecture, dinner at a fabulous Italian place, a drive through Times Square, and a 43rd floor rooftop view of the city at night.
We're flying home tomorrow. We have to get up at 4:30 a.m. to meet our Lyft driver at 5:15 outside our apartment. I hate getting up that earlier.
But oh, well!