Late last week Andrew suggested we make a spontaneous trip to New York City. "Hmmm...okay," I thought, a little intrigued by the proposition. Andrew and I are the two least spontaneous people I know. We plan everything to the T. Even the grocery store. In fact, I often re-write the grocery list to lump items into categories corresponding to their location within the store--you know, meat, dairy, produce... So a spontaneous trip to the city made the little wheels in my head start to churn.
I was busy with work so I wasn't really able to contribute to the weekend's plans so he had free reign to determine our schedule. He arranged for us to meet up with some friends from our church in Providence who had just moved to the city last month. We headed out early Saturday morning to catch the Metro North Railroad in New Haven, Connecticut. We made it to the train station smoothly, with plenty of time to spare. We jumped on the New Haven line train, bound for Grand Central Station. We marveled at all the families and travelers headed for a weekend in New York City as well. We played a little Gin Rummy, I dominated, of course. And before we knew it the streets of New York City were beckoning us to come play.
We walked a few blocks from Grand Central Station to our friends' apartment and dropped off our bags. Then the four of us jumped on the subway for a lunch date in Madison Square Park. Any of you that know New York City may guess that we were headed to the Shake Shack. And we were. Shake Shack always has a long line so our friends Ed and Rosalynn offered to hold the place in line while we walked around for a bit. This made me a little suspect. "Don't they want to hang out and talk to us for a bit while we all wait in line?" I thought. But they insisted we see the city and not waste any time so we started to walk through the park a little when I spotted the dog park, "Let's go!" I pleaded. "Are we allowed to go in without a dog?" we wondered. "Will we look like creeps?" we worried. Well, we went in anyway and had a blast.
Dog watching is about 100 times more fun than people watching. Dogs have a lot less inhibition. It was like we were watching carefree kids who didn't know they were supposed to behave properly in public. We watched as a group of dogs all ganged up on one little dog and then watched as the sad owner promptly left the park with her little outcast. We contemplated if the owner felt bad about their dog being picked on like a parent would when their kid comes home crying from school. Then we watched the young New Yorkers come in all dressed up in posh clothes with their little yippy dogs--clearly at the park to mingle and meet other young 30-somethings since their dogs were too busy hiding under the bench to play with others. Or there was the little boxer dog that sprinted off his lease upon release, running around the park looking for dogs to play with. We animated his voice as he went from dog to dog looking for someone to notice him and play with him--Milo and Otis style, of course. Lastly, there was the bull dog that we couldn't get enough of. He could not have cared less about the other dogs in the park. He just waddled his fat self around the park pushing a ball with his nose oblivious of the function of a dog park. Then we laughed about how the owner looked just like his dog.
We sat in the dog park for a good 30 minutes enjoying ourselves and learning about the dog culture of urbanites. We even enjoyed people asking us to pick up our dogs poo and then gleefully told them it wasn't our dog. Before long Ed and Ros called us and told us they were getting close to the front of the line. We headed back and enjoyed a lunch of cheeseburgers and french fries in the park.
Next, we split paths and Andrew and I headed out into the city as Ed and Ros headed to a coffee shop to read. We jumped on the subway and headed towards the infamous Wall Street. Took a few pictures and then headed down towards Ellis Island. We got to the tip of Manhattan and realized that we would have to wait in 3 hour-long lines just to get onto Ellis Island. We decided it wasn't the best use of our time and headed toward the Staten Island ferry. We briskly walked toward the ferry that we saw quickly approaching land and made it on within seconds of it pulling away from the dock. The ride was amazingly relaxing. There was a beautiful breeze, we passed Lady Liberty and Ellis Island, and rocked slowly to the hum of the engine. We took the return boat immediately back to Manhattan and ventured off to our next stop: Brooklyn.
Somewhere in my lack-of-geographic knowledge I thought that Brooklyn and the Bronx were interchangeable. I expressed my lack of desire to go to Brooklyn because it's dangerous, but Andrew convinced me that he found a list of famous people who live there and we had to walk through and admire the architecture and Brownstones. We strolled through the beautiful Brooklyn Heights neighborhood and then ended up on the Promenade overlooking the skyline of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge. We found the perfect bench and relaxed for a while. My wish for the weekend was to spend all day laying in a park and relaxing, so sitting and watching the sunset over NYC was perfect.
As we sat admiring the scenery and the glamor of New York City, Andrew told me he made something for me. He proceeded to hand me a flat object wrapped in tissue paper with a card on top. The card was a collage of pictures of us, pictures of NYC, a poem, and at the bottom was a hint to a location somewhere. I wasn't allowed to unwrap the tissue paper yet and he proceeded to hand me five more of these. The promenade was pretty empty...right up until this point, of course. Then a flood of people began passing by steadily and I began to realize what was going on. After handing me 6 cards with something wrapped in tissue paper under them, he said he had one more. He handed me a blue pouch and began to tell me nice things about me and our future. I knew what was coming next. Unfortunately, I had noticed when we first approached the bench that we were sitting on one of probably two benches (out of a string of 15) that were surrounded by dirt and mud. At this point he began to get down on his knee and I panicked. A combination of gawkers and the thought of him wearing a pair of khakis for two days with a huge dirt-stained knee caused me to beg him to not get down in the dirt. He protested, but like a wise man he eventually obliged. At this point he pulled out the ring and asked me to marry him. I said, "Yes," of course.
The ring I received was my great-grandmother's ring passed down to me from my mom. As part of the gift, my mom gave me a picture of my great grandparents with it. By this time I was pretty emotional, so to lighten the mood a little he said, "Your mom wanted you to have this picture with it." He paused. "...She didn't mention that your great grandfather was Dwight D. Eisenhower!" We had a good laugh and then I was able to open the presents.
There were 6 DVDs of locations we had talked about wanting to travel to someday, but now they are presented as potential honeymoon destinations. [With Andrew's permission I'm putting up a sample of the sweet cards he made me].
Next we began processing and talking about all this entails. We were ready to take some pictures, but of course, it was about to downpour so all passersby whom had been ever-present before were suddenly nowhere to be seen. Typical. We snapped a few shots of us, the ring, our bench, the view and then headed up the hill to a pizza joint in Brooklyn.
We were told we had to try this pizza place right under the Brooklyn bridge. We made our way to the restaurant, had a celebratory drink, and waited out the rain. When the rain let up we walked outside to hear people shouting about the incredibly bright rainbow we had to see.
Next stop: Central Park.
We snapped a few more pictures before sunset and then headed to the Upper West Side for dinner with a friend of Andrew's from grad school. We enjoyed some wonderful Italian food and then exhausted, headed back to Ed and Ros's place. Our sweet friends eagerly awaited our arrival. They ran down to the door to greet us with hugs, champagne, and my first wedding magazine. We all spent the next two hours talking about the day and then passed out from exhaustion.
We had an incredible, fun, and memorable weekend in New York, New York. The weather was beautiful for the first time in a month. Ed and Ros were incredible hosts and accomplices to Andrew's plans. The timing for his proposal worked out perfectly (minus his disappointment for not getting to get down on one knee). And the rest is history!
We aren't certain about any plans or dates yet, but you'll be in the know! Check back often and enjoy the wedding-planning ride with us!