I want to wake up, in a city that never sleeps. - A e r i f o r m

I'm still in good old New York, but I figured I'd throw an update around to prove I'm still kickin'.

I was in Manhattan yesterday. As I observed the towering buildings and bustling streets, I tried silently to compare it to my native and beloved Chicago and find the differences. Manhattan is DEFINITELY larger. Subway system is more complicated... The air smells different. The line to visit the observation decks of the Empire State Building are vastly longer than those of the Sears Tower. I worried about pick pockets in Manhattan. (Or maybe I was being paranoid, but it seemed everywhere I turned and every place I went people could tell I wasn't from NY.)

Of course, there are similarities. The taxi drivers are still insane, the buildings are still incredibly impressive and soar higher than my eyes dare to seek lest my retinas get burned out by accidentally visiting direct sunlight that seems to reflect off of every glinting surface, it's almost worth it to walk/subway everywhere (at the end of it all my feet were killing me but I was determined to show no mercy to this city I traveled thousands of miles to conquer) rather than taxi, photographs are just waiting to be taken. I'll have lots of those to share once I get back home as I'm silly and forgot my USB cable in my desk.

Most of my time in Manhattan I spent with my mouth wide open (no fellatio jokes, please) . These are places I've only seen in movies, and here they are in front of me. The only places I've seen that were featured in movies are the bridge Christian Bale drives over in the Batmobile in "Batman Begins", the underground street system featured in "Batman Begins" (which is actually Lower Wacker Drive), the house that "The Amityville Horror" was filmed in and the apartment complex that "Stranger than Fiction" was filmed in (my best friend lives those condos). On the way to the house from the airport when I arrived, I saw the location of the 1939/1940 NY World's Fair. Amazing.

I didn't get to see The Statue of Liberty or Ground Zero while I was here; two places I really wanted to photograph. I suppose they'll have to wait until round two. I did see Grand Central Station, The Smithsonian, The Empire State Building, and The Chrysler Building. (Not to mention the things I saw in the Hamptons: the ocean, the bay, all of the very, very expensive houses - beautiful scenery.)

I met this guy at a bar during my stay. I have his card around here somewhere (I think it's somewhere in my Mary Poppins purse). He's one of those really cool people I have the pleasure of meeting on my adventures - introduces himself, tells you what he does, clues you in on his mission. He asked me what I do. "Whatever I can," I said. "I just go where the wind takes me."

"Well," he said, "Nothing happens without a reason. You kids keep in touch. I mean that." 

I may just do that.

I miss my family back home and it'll be nice to be in their vicinity again. I miss my cat. I'm sure he'll be very angry when I arrive home and will yell at me for the next few days for leaving him. Rex, my siberian dwarf hamster, will be happy to see me and will hope that I brought him something delicious to nibble on.

I renewed my friendship with James. We lost contact for a long period of time, but I think this trip opened up our eyes to a great friendship that we share. It's really a shame that he's so far away. It's nice to see him with his daughter however - she's gorgeous... And he's an excellent father.

All in all, it's been very surreal. I saw things I expected to see, I saw things I definitely didn't expect to see. I had a lot of first time experiences and probably a few I'll never get to do again, but I will say - I regret nothing on this wonderful trip to a city and state much unlike my own. It's been very different from any other place I've visited.

I'll never forget this trip.

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