I have been taking a breather from blogging as well as other endeavours this week for a very good reason. My Hawaiian friend Kawika is visiting New York City for the first time in his life and I promised I would be his guide to the city during his few days in the Big Apple.
Of course, this has entailed lots of sight-seeing and lots of walking in what isn't necessarily the warmest of seasons. Good thing, then, that temperatures have stayed a dozen degrees above the freezing mark, for the most part, and that it has been so sunny (plus I've been successful dissuading Kawika from wearing shorts and sandals, which he swears are just right for this weather).
First thing, as always, were the subway trains. They are not necessarily that clean but I was disappointed we didn't see any humongo-rats. Still, it was a far cry from being stabbed or mugged, which is what his friends warned might happen in the subways. Those were the old days! I said. New York City as shown in bad movies! I said.
That's before some drunk guy on the 72nd Street subway platform threatened to punch Kawika in the face unless he called him his friend. Kawika, bless his heart, says that the experience made him feel as if he had a badge of honor when it came to braving the streets of New York.
Having survived subway underworld, we emerged in the heart of Times Square. I didn't tell him where we were heading so watching Kawika's face light up a million watts' worth of emotion was priceless. Overwhelmed does not even come close to it. As a New Yorker you learn to take these things as granted. Watching the joy in Kawika's face made me realize I should appreciate living in this city a bit more.
We then walked up Broadway and made it to Columbus Circle. We went into the mall at the Time-Warner building and I showed Kawika those ugly Botero copper-colored statues (including the one with the shiny golden penis - from people rubing it too much).
We then went into Central Park where we got New York grub: A pair of big hot-dogs with the works. Amazingly, Kawika lived to tell about it... He also got to see Bethesda Fountain and the notorious Rambles. Yes, as cold as it was, there were still a few guys cruising others out there.
We ended the day at the Gym bar with my boyfriend and some friends and ended up driving around Manhattan into Brooklyn to see the Manhattan skylight at night from across the river.
Day two, we got started late. We made it to Ground Zero and Wall Street. Yup, that's the New York Stock Exchange building.
We also made a second visit to Times Square at night. I was even overwhelmed by the amount of people around us.
And then it was off to Christopher Street. The plan was to see as many bars as possible and things started well with a history trip to the Stonewall Inn and Julius' but Marie's Crisis had a long waiting line and Boots & Saddles was sorta empty. We eventually ended up at Ty's were I bumped into my friend Alex while Kawika was cruised a few times.
Time went by really fast. We headed to the Dugout but it had closed for the night. A perfect time for oily pepperoni pizza. And then time to call it a night.
Today brought us to the Staten Island ferry. The best value for your buck: You get a glorious view of lower Manhattan as well as the Statue of Liberty for free. Plus you get to get pooped on by seagulls! Priceless! I tried to beat the night-fall by heading up the west side Hudson River walkways but quickly gave up since the wind was picking up and it was getting seriously chilly.
As we made it to the subways, Kawika noticed the gas tank above with its quaint New York-themed insignia. He asked me if I knew what the tanks were doing there. I had seen them before but told him I was just as stumped as he was. Then it was back to Queens for some Afghan food (yum yum)... and we are not even done yet.
Fuck! I've loved having Kawika here. It's the first time we have actually met face to face but it feels as if we have known each other for years. After all, the reason we got to know each other was the loss of a common friend to cancer three years ago.
That the life of Steven Mackin made it possible for us to be friends and meet in New York after all these years is just amazing. That Kawika and I will probably remain friends for the rest of our lives is even greater (more photos here).
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