Saturday, October 20, 2007

Hob-nobbing

It's a good thing I have friends all the way down to New York City, because I'm the kind of person that needs the moral support.

And because I'm going to New York City.

I grew up going to New York City. My dad's parents used to live in the part of New Jersey that's relatively close to that booming metropolis, and when we visited them they'd take us to places like the Central Park Zoo and the Bronx Zoo and the Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (This is the order in which our outings progressed--in maturity as we did.) I loved these visits. The Central Park Zoo had this great clock with dancing animals, and lots of pigeons. (I think everywhere in New York has lots of pigeons, but apparently when I was two, that was what I was most into when we went to the zoo.) The Bronx Zoo has this monorail thing and camels you can ride. The Museum of Natural History has the first T-rex skeleton I'd ever seen. And the Met is full of other people's stories, with some of the most beautiful illustrations (both literally and figuratively) I've ever encountered. Plus the city looks great at Christmas. And smells like roasting chestnuts.

When I was in high school, our choir toured in the NYC area. We had a day to explore downtown and three of my friends and I accidentally ended up in the "Combat Zone," because the maps we had told us where the streets were, but not which ones we shouldn't be on. We made it out unscathed, and I made it out almost oblivious (I was that kind of kid), but not entirely unfascinated.

When I was in college, the Gospel Choir toured to NYC, too, and we sang, among other places, at the Brooklyn Tabernacle--both with and without their well-renowned choir.

And then when I was a nanny, I went to NYC for the first time by myself, stayed with a friend in Queens and ate proper Chinese food in Chinatown. (The day I left, I came down with a stomach bug, which was utterly miserable (and not, I think, related to either the Chinese food or the Indian food I had had the rest of the time), but I still managed to navigate the subway and train system and get back to Nannyville, which might have been something of an accomplishment.)

Also, I might add, not entirely irrelevantly, that I once went to Turkey by myself and only stayed with people I knew for five out of the nine days I was there. Oh. Right. And I lived in London for over five years.

So it's not like I'm totally unadventurous or need constant hand-holding. But there's still something about New York City that, shall we say, makes me a little nervous. Maybe it's residual trauma from ending up in the combat zone by mistake. Or from the time my friend Nate passed out before my eyes in a food court on Gospel Choir tour. Or the high prices. Or the dirty looks that shopkeepers give you when you go into their shop and look around and don't buy anything. Or multiple times of almost getting run over by yellow cabs. Or the fact that it's the home of The Wrong Baseball Team (such that I shall not dignify them with a link).

Plus I'm meant to be hobnobbing. I'm going to this snooty- (I mean, classy-) looking place called the Yale Club on Tuesday, and I'm supposed to be hanging out with these publishers and other people who probably actually knew Lloyd Alexander. I don't know any of these people. I wish Lloyd himself were going to be there. This kind of situation makes me feel like one of those Jane Austen characters who the reader knows is inherently way cooler than all those high-brows she gets thrown in amongst, but who doesn't personally know how to navigate such refined waters. I revert to my high school mindset of, "These people have no reason to want to talk to me."

Let's just say I'm a little nervous. I'm heading down tomorrow afternoon, and I think all I really want to do when I get there is go to the Central Park Zoo and watch the Delacorte Clock go round.

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