I step off the Megabus and take a deep breath of the city air. Its familiar smell brings nostalgic memories to my head. I glance over at her, and I smile when I spot a bright, light blue sparkle in her eyes. Her light brown hair blows slightly in the cool, May breeze, as she gives me a toothy grin. Weeks had gone into planning today, and I couldn’t wait to run around like a five year old in a sugar rush. In my eyes, the city was an urban playground, with its sprawling concrete sidewalks and steel jungle gyms. There are so many things to see, things to do, and most importantly, things to eat.
I pull out my phone and tap the first note on the list. A disorganized block of words pop up, as if I pulled a handful of words from a bag and threw them on the screen. But of course, to me, it’s intelligible chaos. First item on the list: Washington Square Park.
“Ready for breakfast?” I light up.
The fountain isn’t running because it’s not summer yet. But we take a seat on its rim anyways, admiring the park around us. “I am so ready for these bagels,” she said in anticipation. The tinfoil made a scratchy noise as we clinked our food together and then quickly took bites. A distinct creamy seafood flavor runs wild through my mouth, supported by a hearty base. She and I look at each other and just nod. New Yorkers do it right with their cream cheese and lox.
I whisper into her ear and then hold her hand. I trace the creases in her palm, feeling her skin tender against my fingers. We lean on each other for a while, looking around us. There’s an elderly man by the archway playing the keyboard. Doggies trot alongside their owners, wagging their tails and sniffing about. Occasionally, a large bubble would float away from a man with a bucket and rope attached to sticks. Adding to the morning commotion, I hear birds chirping away. I wish I took a video, but even that wouldn’t do the whole experience justice. Maybe it’s better that I didn’t. This moment, that feeling, I’ll never forget; it’s uniquely mine. Our first day in New York City.
The waiter leads us to our seats, and we sit down. It’s almost 7 pm, and the place is bustling with the sound of orders and conversation. The restaurant is filled with people in business casual; this is probably the place to go to after work. L’Express. Dimly lit by candles, but crowded, the atmosphere imparts a cool, yet busy feel. Located unassumingly on a city corner, L’Express was a gem, hidden amongst a sea of innumerable other New York restaurants. I hadn’t had French food before, but I thought I’d take her out somewhere special. This was nothing I’d experienced before.
We’d spent all day gallivanting throughout the city, and we were starving. She looked cute, reading the menu, maintaining a passive smile in anticipation of the food to come. Lucky for us, the waiter brings us some bread and butter to start our meal off. I swear I was an animal in that moment because I attacked that bread in a way observed only by three types of wild birds. I look up and am surprised she didn’t catch me; I saw that she was just as involved in her food as I was. That observation makes me grin. The waiter sauntered over when we finished our bread and took our order.
Keeping my mind off my order of steaming hot Duck à l’Orange, I ask her questions. “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” “What do you want to do when you get out of school?” These questions fit the mood at the time. We felt real; it was an experience that only could have happened in the city.