Raise A Glass To Freedom: New York for Nerds

We awoke to an absolutely beautiful Spring day in New York City. The sun was shining, the sky was blue; it was the perfect day to explore the Big Apple! Unlike most of my Ladycations, New York came with my very own, personal tour guide. If you’re reading this and you have children, ensure you raise them to want to live in cool places so you have somewhere fun to visit. Being that this adorable tour guide knows me so well, she’d planned a weekend full of nerd-friendly activities! Sure, New York is for the rich and powerful, the beautiful and fashionable, but forget all that. Let’s raise a glass to freedom as we explore the New York for nerds!

We took our time getting ready for our day. We had activities planned, but weren’t in any kind of rush. With the weather being so wonderful we decided our first stop wouldn’t be a stop at all, but a walk through Central Park. I don’t know how New Yorkers can stand to live in their concrete jungle of a city, but Central Park is pretty great. One minute you’re surrounded by traffic and buildings and noise and commotion. Then you enter the park and you’re surrounded by green. You can hear the birds singing, people are out walking their pups, joggers pass by on their daily runs, and in early March the trees were just starting to bud. It was absolutely glorious after the long, gray winter.

We meandered through the park and ended up where we’d been 6 years prior. Strawberry Fields is an area of Central Park right across the street from the Dakota, which is where John Lennon lived, and where he was shot and killed. John’s ashes were scattered in the area of Central Park now called Strawberry Fields (forever). We took some pictures and listened briefly to the street performer singing Imagine before deciding to head over to the Natural History Museum, my favorite museum in NYC.

New York’s Natural History Museum has so much to see. From the first creatures to roam this planet, to the first humans to cultivate its land, to the giant rock that’s been orbiting Earth through it all, the Natural History Museum has it covered. We took a selfie by the big blue whale, took turns chatting with a statue of Teddy Roosevelt (this history nerd loves Teddy! You didn’t think my nerdiness was limited to French and Italian history, did you?). But those were just bonuses, Liv and I were in search of the dinosaur bones, our favorite part. Given the size of the museum, it took a while for us to find what we were looking for, but ultimately we found ourselves surrounded by dinos and taking dorky pictures. Mission: Accomplished!

Once we finished clowning around we decided we were hungry and headed out in search of someplace to eat. We ended up at a pizza place nearby that wasn’t anywhere near as good as those we’d frequented in Italy, but it was delicious nonetheless. After we scarfed down our meal we paid our check and headed back out into the city.

We got back on the subway and made our way to Tribeca for our first super-nerd fan-girl stop of the day. There are a few things that Olivia is absolutely obsessed with. If you followed our European Ladycation you may remember that one of those things is cats. My girl is the youngest crazy cat lady you’ll ever meet. Her other obsession is Taylor Swift (fittingly, someone also obsessed with cats).

When I say she’s “obsessed” with Taylor Swift, I mean she’s obsessed! She knows the story behind every song on every album, every Easter egg in every music video, and even the story behind how Taylor came to adopt her cats (fun fact: Tay Tay has a cat she named Detective Olivia Benson after Mariska Hargitay’s SVU character. SVU came out shortly before my Olivia was born, and is the reason my daughter’s name is Olivia). My Liv is 100% Swiftie. So much so, in fact, that during pandemic lockdown, she even turned her rock-n-roller mom into a T-Swizzle super fan, her uncle into an admirer, and convinced her grandfather to watch the Taylor Swift documentary on Netflix.

So there we were, in Tribeca, Liv wearing the All Too Well hoodie I’d gotten her for Christmas, walking down Taylor Swift’s street. We didn’t see any sign of Taylor, but we did find out that she lives right around the corner from the Ghostbusters firehouse from the 1984 film, which is pretty awesome. What a neighborhood!

We stopped at Bubby’s for a drink before moving on. I ordered a mimosa, and it was delicious, but I was more focused on the people watching. New York City has the best people watching I’ve seen since Europe. Part of that is that New York has the most similar crowd to any European city we went to, simply because it has the most international tourists, and such a diverse population. I was enjoying watching the snobby group of thirty-something hipsters, and the girls in their early twenties trying so hard to look like a magazine cover, and the teenage skater boys who didn’t seem to have anywhere to be. Alas, we did not see Taylor Swift, and finally finished our cocktails and decided to head to the home of yet another boss-ass-New-York-bitch, though a fictional one: Carrie Bradshaw.

During the first year of the pandemic, when everyone was pretty much shut-up in their homes desperately trying to find new things to watch or read or play, my daughter discovered Sex and the City, a show and characters I’d loved for decades. She’d found it just in time for her big move to NYC, and I now found myself walking up to Carrie’s New York Brownstone with my New Yorker daughter. Such a fun nerd stop!

We headed back to Liv’s apartment to get ready for dinner. You know by now that I’m a history nerd. I left my bitch-baby nerd-tears all over Europe, but it’s not just European history that gets me fan-girling like my daughter on a Taylor Swift themed dinner cruise (yes, it’s a thing, and yes, she did that), I go hardcore nerd over American history, as well. In particular, I’m obsessed with the American Revolution, and New York City is filled with Revolutionary era history!

For dinner that evening we headed to the oldest building standing in New York City, Fraunces Tavern. In Lower Manhattan, Fraunces was built in 1719, and established as a tavern in 1762. During the Revolutionary period Fraunces held countless meetings and events for both Loyalists and Revolutionaries alike. On December 4, 1783, a little over a week after the last British troops left American soil, General George Washington gathered his officers at Fraunces for an emotional farewell. Some years later, the week before their duel, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr both attended a meeting there. Speaking of Hamilton, if you’re a fan of the musical, Fraunces is where the tavern scene in Lin Manuel Miranda’s brilliant play was supposed to have taken place. If walls could talk I might never leave Fraunces Tavern.

Sitting in this historic building gave me the same rush I got from exploring the Palazzo Medici, or seeing the place where Caesar was assassinated. Pretty difficult to get that feeling in the U.S. where few physical structures still stand that predate the 19th Century. We ordered wine and raised a glass to freedom as our Founders did, and as Lin made so catchy and beautiful on Broadway, and then ordered our dinner. Liv got fish and chips, I got a burger, and both were fantastic. Liv’s fish was, like, a whole fucking fish. It was huge, an entire family could’ve shared it. My burger was cooked to perfection and absolutely delicious. You really can’t make me much happier than good food, a glass of wine, in a place with awesome history, on vacation, with one of my favorite humans. That’s what life is all about, the moments that bring us pure joy, when you’re so happy and content you feel lighter. More moments like that, please.

We went back to Olivia’s apartment full and happy, and watched some TV before turning in for the night. I was having so much fun, and it struck me how crazy it felt to be staying at my adult daughter’s New York City apartment. We spend all those years teaching and guiding and protecting our kids so that they grow up and can make it on their own, and here my daughter was. Doing it. Killing it. I’m so proud of her. Hell, I’m so proud of me! I made that human from scratch, taught her how to be human, and look what an amazing job I did! If I knew what I did to make such incredible humans I’d write a book, get rich, and buy a house next to George and Amal in Italy, but I’ll settle for getting a front row seat to watch my kids kick the world’s ass, instead.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you’ll swing back around for the next installment when instead of talking about history we watch it unfold before our very eyes, with singing and dancing and sick beats. Hamilton on Broadway, baby. Bucket List: checked. Till then, as always, stay chill and keep hiking, my friends!


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