Let me start by telling you that we met the Cake Boss in Hoboken, New Jersey. The glory of his delicious cupcakes graced our taste buds after we waited hours in line for them, and his chocolate covered strawberries are like heaven in your mouth. We walked from the bakery over to a bay area, and we looked across the water longingly at the New York skyline.
A few hours later we found ourselves right next to those buildings—don’t ask me how, but as we drove around New Jersey, we somehow ended up in the middle of Manhattan. Then Brooklyn. Then Chinatown. All hail Rachel’s deft driving skills and her calm, collected honking and weaving and yelling amongst those daring (aka crazy) NYC drivers. She maneuvered like a native New Yorker, but unlike them she actually paid attention to the people honking at her: “Please don’t honk at me! I’m trying!” And other than the time she went the wrong way down a one-way road in the busiest part of Manhattan, she continued to impress us with her command of the car as we silently (and sometimes not so silently) panicked in the passenger and back seats. Somehow we found our way out of NYC again, and we unanimously decided to take the train in the next morning.
I remember loving New York when I was younger. My family took a spring break trip to New England when I was in fifth grade, and I was intrigued by the sketchiness of Chinatown and the height of the Empire State Building and the Twin Towers. I’m sure having parents who paid for everything and navigated everywhere made my trip the blissful, stress-free vacation it was then, but this time around it was a little different. Something I didn’t know is that NYC sucks the money right out of your pockets like an endless vacuum, and the subway distinctly smelled like urine and pickles, which never helps any situation.
But the lights, sounds, and movement of the city enthralled us. Sweaty and sticky in the summer heat, we hit most all the highlights of NYC, and we even ate a hot dog from a street vendor in Times Square. We walked through a little piece of Central Park, and we shopped in a some small street-side stores. We stood outside Broadway and envied all the people walking into those air-conditioned theaters to watch amazing plays, and we talked about how one day we will be able to afford doing something like that. It’s fun being transplanted into a city that is loud and beautiful and has a million personalities.
On the train ride back to New Jersey, I heard a woman talking about New York and how she doesn’t know how anyone who didn’t grow up in NYC could just come and live there and love it. I remember in high school thinking that one day I’d love to work at a publishing firm in the heart of New York. Then I visited it as an adult. I did love it—it is intoxicating and musical and bright, but it never felt like it could be home.
Boston, on the other hand, proved itself home-worthy. And that’s exactly where we headed next.