What does your perfect day look like?
Like many of you perhaps, I've been daydreaming about the above question for the past few weeks of quarantine. Where would I go spend my morning, with my iced latte in hand? What stores would I love to go visit? What might I wear for the occasion? Who might join me? Would I make a fancy dinner reservation? Should I go uptown or downtown? Night of dancing? Or jazz perhaps in the village? As someone who loves spending solo Saturdays wandering around the city, especially the minute the first nice weekend of spring rolls around, I've been cooking up an extremely perfect day in New York that I can't wait to enjoy once our social distancing restrictions are lifted. Today's post is very much inspired by my good friend Helena's series Perfect Day in NYC -- as it always reminds me how much I still have to discover about this city, even after 5 or 6 years of living here -- further proof that New York is always reinventing itself through someone's eyes.
Where to start? Well, I suppose I'll begin by confessing -- I'm a very early riser, especially if I can manage to swing a 10pm bedtime the night before. Most mornings, even Saturday mornings, I'm up by 7am at the latest much to the chagrin of my boyfriend, who would prefer to sleep until about 10am. After a quick morning routine of walking my dog Elvis around the West Village, I'll head out for a 3 mile run along my favorite running route -- the Hudson River Path. I typically run south, as I love being able to see One World straight ahead of me, as the morning sun starts to peek in the east above the apartment buildings along the West Side Highway. This is my favorite time of day to clear my head and listen to a playlist that inevitably sets the tone for my day of play. Today's musical lineup? Let's say we have James Brown mixed in with Nina Simone and a dash of Bob Dylan's The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan album, arguably his most quintessentially "New York" album in my opinion.
With my three miles done, I'll stop by my favorite coffee shop in the village -- Oslo on 10th Street -- where I'll order an iced oat milk latte to go, before bumping into Sarah Jessica Parker and Brooke Shields, who I like to think might be casually chatting on the corner, appreciating the day's weather. Both ladies live in the village and it's my dream to befriend them both (Brooke once complimented my outfit -- true story!), so for the sake of this daydream, all three of us are good friends.
Fresh from the shower, I'll throw on a colorful spring skirt, not all too unlike the Boden beauty you see here -- the midi length and pleated silhouette will make the rest of the day fuss-free. With a light tank, a belted canvas jacket and low kitten heels, I'm ready to roll out the door, kissing both Elvis and Ty (who is just now waking up) goodbye, reminding him what time our dinner reservation is that evening (but more on that later!). Air pods in, with Bob Dylan still Freewheelin', I'll make my way to the C train at the W. 4th Street station, making a special point to walk down W. 4th specifically, to pass Dylan's old apartment near 6th Avenue.
I'll awake from a daydream, as the muffled, almost inaudible voice of the train conductor announces 72nd Street. I hop to my feet, giving one last smile to the trio of acapella singers as they finish off a moving rendition of Sam Cooke's "You Send Me." Above ground, in the warm heat now hitting Central Park West, I cross both lanes, dodging a few bicyclists and cabs as I go -- oh, how I miss playing Frogger in traffic! At this time in the morning, the park is already starting to fill up with joggers and families but I don't mind the hustle and bustle of it -- that's what makes Central Park so special. No matter where you turn, it feels like someone's movie is about to start, including your own. I'll pass through Strawberry Fields, as a slew of musicians -- young and old, weathered guitars in their lap, begin to tune up, the soft cooing of "Blackbird" on their lips.
Admittedly, I always get a bit turned around when it comes to the walking pathways in Central Park -- some are less direct than others, especially if you're trying to just make your way across the park like I am this morning -- so my trick? Sniff out the roasted nut vendors -- you can usually smell them from a good distance away and they're always set up at major intersections in the park where there's a lot of foot traffic. Heck, perhaps I'll even pick up a pack of roasted almonds for the remainder of my walk, as the proud glass ceilings of the Metropolitan Museum of Art come into view over the treetops ahead -- our first official stop of the day.
Like the good New Yorker I am, I'll have read up on the current exhibits and new commissioned pieces -- making mental notes on the order in which I'll visit -- but every trip of mine, without fail, always ends in the Impressionism section -- namely for Degas and his many, many ballerinas. I'm not sure when I started bookending my Met visits this way, but now I can't imagine not doing it. It's a sacred routine of mine.
Back out on the museum steps, smelling hot dogs thick in the air, I'll realize I'm quite hungry (starving actually -- all that walking in the museum wings really takes it out of you!), so I'll carefully dodge the many tourists now sitting on the Met steps like Serena and Blair, to make my way back into the park. The destination this time? The Loeb Boathouse Cafe, which you may remember from a certain Sex and the City episode in Season 3 where Carrie falls into the lake, pulling Mr. Big in with her. Not exactly suited up for a swim myself, I'll instead opt to grab a table for one alfresco, looking out over the lake, sipping something bubbly while I watch couples row out on the water, wondering who among them has a ring in their pocket. As far as my order goes? Let's indulge, shall we? I think I'll partake in their roasted salmon with brussel sprouts and a big side order of fries. Of course, the waiter will assure me of my solid choices.
Not one to waste a sunny afternoon, as this day is quickly turning into one, I'll settle my bill, making a beeline south through the park, passing Bethesda Terrace along the way. New Yorker or not, you would undoubtedly recognize Bethesda -- the scene of many infamous meet-cutes in films -- and on the right bustling Saturday? You can find some of the most amazing musicians, usually hanging out underneath the Terrace itself, where the acoustics are second to none. With any luck, I'll pass a lone saxophone player, who I'll ask to play a little Sam Cooke for me, as it's been stuck in my head all morning since my subway ride. As I eventually walk away, I'll start to sing to myself, a skip in my step now ... "Don't know much about history..."
Up ahead, I'll hear the murmur of crowds, walking to and fro down the promenade of The Mall -- a tree-lined walkway usually lined with vendors selling gifts, trinkets and art, sometimes with the artists themselves sketching live portraits for customers. Come to think of it, I've never felt like I had time to stop and have my portrait done in Central Park and you know what? Today's that day. I'm getting my portrait drawn! I'll pick the artist with the sunniest spot and enjoy some idle conversation -- as I've always actually wondered what it must be like to draw the many faces that pass through one of the most popular parks in the world. Oh, the stories they must hear!
Now, with portrait in hand, I'll finally realize the time, remembering I need to still make it home for a quick change before dinner. Following my nose via the roasted nut vendors, I weave my way west through the park, stealing glances of fallen cherry blossom petals along the way, before eventually picking up a Citi Bike on the outskirts of the park. As if being drawn to the sun, I'll ride west, back toward the Hudson River Path where my morning started, feeling the breeze rush through my hair once I'm near the open expanse of the river. Just as I had hoped, the sunset is proving to be a good one -- pinks and oranges already tinging the outlines of the clouds that pepper the sky. I wonder, almost out loud to myself, what Degas might think of these clouds. Would they be fitting for his ballerinas to dance amongst?
Once 60 blocks flash by, I'm back downtown, whisking past the many brownstone apartments of the village, including Carrie Bradshaw's fictional apartment on Perry Street (which is coincidentally right behind SJP's actual apartment). Speaking of Carrie, I need to figure out what to wear for tonight! Little black dress? Or my favorite white flared midi, perfect for dancing? Naturally, I'll try on everything in my closet, before coming back to these two classic options, eventually deciding on the white midi -- classic, but still fun -- exactly how our evening will go.
Here's where the night becomes a whirl -- pay close attention, you won't want to miss a second! Dinner reservation is at 7:30pm sharp at none other than L'Artusi, my favorite Italian restaurant in the whole city, which just happens to be a stone's throw away from our apartment door. Ty, in a crisp suit I requested, greets me at the door, where we're promptly escorted to our table by the hostess. No visit to L'Artusi is complete without one of us ordering the gnocchi with wild boar ragu (my FAVE!) and a full-bodied red to sip -- perhaps a Montepulciano -- as we lose ourselves in what promises to be a beautiful New York evening, laughter from our fellow patrons proving to be just as intoxicating as our wine.
At some point, full of cheese and carbs, we'll stroll through the village, hand in hand as lovers do, winding our way over to Marie's Crisis on Grove Street. For those uninitiated, Marie's Crisis is a sliver of what I like to think the village used to be like -- full of artists, performers and bohemians -- who all might have, at some point or another, found their way over to Marie's Crisis for a drink and a rowdy sing along to Broadway show tunes. If you're in the village yourself soon, you simply must visit. It's unlike anything else.
Once we've had a chance to sing "One Day More" from Les Misérables, we'll reluctantly duck out, still singing of course, before ending the evening at Village Vanguard -- one of the many intimate jazz bars the village has to offer. As you might imagine, the Vanguard is tucked away in a basement venue, dimly lit, save for the dull small lamps that sprinkle the tables and of course, the stage lights. Tonight's performance is a quartet from New Orleans, with a hearty baritone saxophone player as their fearless leader. The booths are small -- perfect for huddling in close to your partner -- which we do, as the opening lines of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" begin to flood the room and my heart, as I smile, thinking to myself, "what a perfect day in the perfect city."
Photos by me