After we left Peter at the hotel and went back into Manhattan, my parents, Emmie and I had quite the day. We got off the train at a station near the Plaza Hotel, so of course we had to pop in. It was Fashion Week in NYC, and so very skinny people in fashionable clothes were everywhere. After we had gotten off the train, I noticed a woman in a little black dress with lovely black shoes and the most beautiful black sunhat walking down the sidewalk. She literally looked like she was walking down a runway and as though a wind machine was blowing through her hair. You could almost smell the money and style wafting off of her. Imagine my utter lack of shock when she strolled right past the velvet ropes into the real lobby of the Plaza Hotel, unlike those of us who were brave enough to wander into the “public” lobby (which is still stinking gorgeous).
I had read Eloise to Emmie a long time ago, so she didn’t remember it, but we had fun imagining a naughty little girl running up and down those luxurious halls.
One thing that really struck me about New York was the quality of the opulence. I’ve been the the fanciest hotels in Vegas, which could also be described as “opulent,” but they could never compete with the decades of true patina, and the straight-up quality of materials and workmanship that so many old buildings in New York have. We simply cannot buy this kind of marble anymore, and they lined every wall with it. The attention to detail in so many public spaces is breathtaking.
After the Plaza Hotel, we stopped by FAO Schwartz (passing all the people already camped out at the Apple store for the new iPhone, announced just 2 days before). I’m honestly not sure who had more fun: Emmie or us showing her all of the wonderful toys.
I was incredibly grateful that she only vaguely understands buying things, so she didn’t ask for everything under the sun. In fact, when we told her we would “think about it” when she found something she did want to take home, she then looked at a number of other things and said “I’m just gonna think about this one too.” Perfect!
We then walked down… um…. Madison? Park? One of the fancy streets. I took a picture of a pretty church (that is probably famous. I’m an awesome tourist).
We finally made it to Rockefeller Center and got to check out the Lego store. Prior to entering into the store, Emmie only had experience with Duplo and K’Nex for building toys, but plays with them both pretty much daily. Since K’Nex are for kids 5+ and she handles them like a pro, I thought she would probably be OK with Lego as well. She was fine looking around at all the many, many (many) sets, but as soon as she saw the Tower O’ Pieces, she immediately set to work like she knew exactly what to do.
I kid you not, she was so busy snapping together her little pieces, I couldn’t even get her to look at me in that second picture. At first, I thought it was just a really cool display, but when my mom pointed out that you can fill up a little bucket and BUY them, I’m not sure if Emmie or I was more excited. (Side rant: When did Lego become nothing but specialized sets where all you can build is what’s on the box?!?! In my day, all we had were bricks! In primary colors! And you HOARDED the windshield piece, the wheels and the axles if you were lucky enough to have them! I asked the Lego dude if they had just basic kits for kids starting out, and he said sure! We have a whole line of them! And led me straight to these, which are possibly even LESS versatile than regular sets! Did they not WATCH the Lego Movie???)
From the Lego store, my friend Josephine kidnapped me and Emmie and took us to Buchon Bakery, where we had the most delicious chocolate macaron I’ve ever had. Emmie easily ate more than half of it, so I’m thinking she liked it too (this one one of three different types of food she ate on the trip. The other two were pizza and hot dogs).
Emmie had a potty emergency, and since Manhattan has approximately 3 public bathrooms on the whole island, Josephine was amazing and brought us up to her office somewhere in Rockefeller-area (seriously, you take me away from mountains and I have absolutely NO idea where I am. I don’t care how sensible your street number system is!). It was really fun to go up there. We could even look down on the garden where scenes from 30 Rock were filmed. (My favorite part of visiting all of that area was recognizing places from 30 Rock and humming the theme song in my head the whole time).
Even though by this time, we were all getting a little bit tired, we rallied and kept on walking to even more stores. Next up was the American Girl store. I loved American Girl as a child… and even now (same with my mom. We are helpless against cute, historical clothes!). Emmie was intrigued, although a tiny bit young for the main event. She did LOVE the Bitty Babies, though, and was very excited about the prospect of “thinking about it” for Christmas. (Again, SO grateful she’s OK window shopping!)
**Tangent Rant #2: Emmie has a lot of baby dolls at home. Many are cheapy Target white babies, but who only two “big” babies are from IKEA and are African-American and Asian. This was my pathetic attempt at instilling some diversity for this poor child who lives in white suburban Colorado. So at the store, I wanted Emmie to try holding Bitty Baby because I was afraid they were too big and heavy for her, just in case I found a good deal online for them. The saleslady said she could hold any of the dozens of babies out for display (all different ethnicities/skin tones). So I ask Emmie which one she wants, and she immediately reaches for an African-American skin-tone baby right near her. The saleslady, who happened to be African-American herself, IMMEDIATELY diverts her and says, “Do you want one that looks like you?” And even though Emmie is STILL reaching for the sweet little black baby, the lady pulls down a different baby and says “This one has blonde hair and blue eyes, just like you!” and hands it to her. So OF COURSE, Emmie changes her mind and reaches for the white baby and I’m like, WHAT?!?! Why must we perpetuate racism, even in these “harmless” ways, when we don’t have to? It just made me sad. It did make me happier when later Emmie preferred the vaguely-Latino-slash-“ethnic”-looking Bitty Twins. Because all she has to do is look anywhere here in CO to see someone else who looks exactly like her!**
After that, we walked down to meet my cousin Sasha at her office in Greenwich Village, which was really fun. I have pictures, but I know Sasha would kill me if I posted any of them, so just image a truly exhausted Emmie going *insane* and stripping her dress half off while wearing a neon green KidzBop shirt just around her neck. Then add my gorgeous with her long red hair as they BOTH go insane and dancing and jumping in her office. That should just about do it.
We walked through Washington Square Park on our way to dinner, but we simply could NOT pass up the chance to play at a playground. She had earned wit with her great walking, so we hung out for a while, as Aunt Sasha played Pied Piper to all the other children. At one point, Emmie began playing with this other sweet little girl who seemed close to her age. I struck up a conversation with her mom, and we talked about what I thought were pretty normal mom-things. At one point, I asked her what she did (because that is a normal topic of conversation in my world), and she sort of got a funny look and said “Acting and directing.” Cool! I didn’t press further because, hey! maybe she’s struggling! Maybe she’s feeling guilty about staying home with her kid! Whatever! Later she said something about going to France a couple times for projects and how hard it was to bring her daughter as an infant, and we commiserated about parenting challenges, etc. She was really appreciative of my insights into her daughter’s great play skills for her age, and then we left for dinner. Apparently, she was someone sort of “known,” like a character actress, possibly? although Sasha of course couldn’t remember her name. So we had a brush with fame, and had no idea! So New York, haha!
Then, we ate at Otto, Mario Batali’s pizza place, Emmie began melting down, we ate our yummy dinner and went home. Needless to say, we were all exhausted.
Wow. If you made it this far, you deserve a medal. I’m a little afraid because this was just the first half of the first day. So, so much happened! You all may not care a fig for what we did, but I want to document every second. Clearly.