Monday, December 7, 2009

New York City, All Dressed Up for the Holidays!

It's often said that there's no place like New York City at Christmas time, and I must agree. Yesterday, a bus-full of 53 passengers departed the Skidmore College campus early in the morning and enjoyed the snow covered landscape almost all the way down to the city. We arrived in New York around 10:30 a.m. and departed the bus near Bryant Park. We all took off in our own directions to do whatever it is that draws people to New York this time of year. My friends and I walked along Fifth Avenue and tucked into a number of stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue. As I entered through the turnstile, the vision of the store was breathtakingly beautiful. Garlands of white and silver pine bows arched overhead, while a waterfall of snowflakes was reflected in the distance. It was so beautiful that it almost distracted me from the reality of Saks's prices: $495 for a pair of thin red leather gloves; $295 for a classic Burberry scarf. There were stacks and stacks of such items, and I can only wonder what it IS that people do that affords them such luxuries, because clearly, they're selling. I watched as one older woman casually considered a number of pairs of gloves, the same way I did last week at Walmart, as if the price were no concern. Mine were $6.00 (and appear to be not so different!). She bought the gloves in black.

Our afternoon was spent on a backstage tour of the Metropolitan Opera. I was lucky enough, a few years ago, to see the opera Margaret Garner there (an operatic version of Toni Morrison's Beloved), and if only I had had the perspective of yesterday's tour then! As much as I enjoyed the performance, I would have had so much more regard for all the work and logisitics that go in to putting one opera in to place. Our guide told us that each performance of the New York City opera carries a $1,000,000 price tag. After seeing all the components and preparations necessary, I understand how that is so. If you have a chance to take this tour (only $14), do it.

After the tour we crossed the street and went in to Brooks Brothers. Again, the most beautiful clothing and accessories for people who can afford them (not me!). Yesterday, I walked around New York in jeans, a heavy sweater, nice black sneakers with patent-leather trim, a black down vest, and a purse slung over my shoulder. It seemed my persona screamed "bus tour" while I strolled by so many tall, skinny, expensively dressed and perfect-looking people! Even babies in strollers were more decked out than me! It makes me wonder if I'd have been one of them, had my parents not migrated north to upstate New York, and left our city roots behind. It's odd to think that my values and life perspective might be totally different had that not happened. But still, there's something there that draws me back, that reminds me of my family's generational association with this vibrant city, that makes me know that this place was home to both my parents' families. While it is not (I expect) like going back to the old sod, it is a place that is at the same time familiar and mysterious, and that I enjoy, very much.

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