It's Still A New York Adventure
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It's Still A New York Adventure

Part 3 of 4: Last 24 Hours

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It's Still A New York Adventure
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The popular song "I’ll Be There for You," which comes from a certain popular sitcom, means a lot more to my friend and I than it probably should. Especially when it’s the sole reason to make a surprise trip cross country to see the song performed in a musical. But what was supposed to be an adventure for our obsession for "Friends" soon became a quest to explore as much of the Big Apple as was possible in the two full days and one night we had afforded to us.

Last 24 Hours

When you decide to go on a vacation whereby you hope to explore what you do not already know, it’s a good idea to usually wake up as early as you can so that the entire adventure -- both known and unknown -- can be explored.

Unfortunately, that is not advice that Qua and I both followed on our last full day in the city and instead woke up at noon. But we had the plan laid out, our latest conquest on the Big Apple was all mapped out: we would be taking the subway to the Village and delight in the haunts of the artists and writers and musicians that litter these New York streets.

After riding in the subway for almost half an hour, we found ourselves in the heart of the bohemian neighborhood that was in Lower Manhattan and flocked to Washington Square Park -- a landmark of New York University. Ever since my obsession for New York City began as well as my love for "Friends," this park has been a place that I have always wanted to go to because of how beautiful and inspiring it is.

In the center of the park lies an arch grafted from pristine marble with sculpted stars and eagles splayed on the bust of it. Around us, there milled over a hundred people: some drew art upon the concrete with their own specific medium for doing so, others sat on benches or on the lip of the fountain perusing their novels, and there were still so many taking pictures making sure that the famous arch was situated in their backgrounds.

That was Qua and I.

Not going to lie. With my rose-colored glasses that some New Yorker gave me the day before, my converse and the flannel tied around my waist, and Qua with my Ray Bans adorned on her head and her ripped jeans and New York shirt, we looked like hipsters. We looked like we belonged in this neighborhood. Thank God too, because this is where I hope to call home whenever I do finally move to New York City.

Later, we tried to go into one of the buildings of NYU since we were so close to it, but the security guard at the first entrance denied us access. Which was fine because we had more stops to make on our last adventure.

We were going to pay a visit to Freedom Tower and to pay our respects at the site of the old World Trade Center at the 9/11 Memorial.

The burgeoning pressure that built at the back of both of our eyelids when we came upon the memorial was swift. Engraved upon the gargantuan square prisms are the names of all of those who lost their lives on this tragic day in 2001 -- next to their names are places where flowers and tokens of love can be left for them. There are so many people here, too. But the familiar noise of the city suddenly ceases, and the quiet is heavy. Everyone bows their head, we all carefully caress the etching of letters that spell out real American heroes trying to find a connection to them, and we all shed our differences as we begin to empathize with one another praying that another horror like this never happens again. There is a presence of hope at this memorial because even behind the evident tragedy that occurred on this soil, there is also that enduring American unity that persisted on this awful day that bonded them in a way that we cannot comprehend, but it is a bond that we can try to recreate rather than allowing ourselves to become divided. We are all human -- we are not our political ideology, we are not our religion or our race, and we are not our opposing background.

We decided to stay in this area for a time and went to the World Trade Center Mall where more pictures were taken and where more breaths were stolen. The inside of this place -- and I am not joking -- looks at first like King’s Cross Station when Harry Potter greets Dumbledore where he is told that he has died. Inside there is white everywhere: white walls, white stairs, white columns, white everything.

When we left the mall, we immediately traversed our way to 90 Bedford Street, or as it is more popularly known, "the 'Friends' building." But before we got there, Qua and I needed to use the restroom, and I’d like to say that we found a public place to do so or else I would not be writing about it. I’d even like to say that we held it in, but then I still would not be writing about it.

We walked into a New York City Public Elementary School and asked if we could use their restroom.

And they said yes.

Interrupting what seemed like a game of kickball played in the cafeteria, the little kids of New York City peered at the strangers wandering into their school while their counselors kept shooting us furtive glances. And I don’t blame them; I would not have let us in if the roles had been switched. But I’m glad we were.

This school was nothing like the elementary schools that I grew up in because for 1) it was situated in a city building rather than sprawled out on grounds and 2) it was situated in the heart of one of largest cities in the world. Furthermore, there was only one bathroom whereas I was accustomed to usually two bathrooms that housed multiple stalls instead of just one toilet that had a windowed view of the neighboring buildings. The similarities lied in that there were classrooms and a cafeteria.

That’s it.

Anyways, in almost no time at all, we found 90 Bedford Street. The "'Friends' building" is much smaller in person than it appears in the show, so you already know that Monica and Rachel’s apartment could never actually exist within the confines of it. And unfortunately, there is no Central Perk underneath the apartments -- there is not even a coffee shop as Qua and I realized. We walked up to the Little Owl (the real restaurant beneath the building), and before we entered the place, there was a note on the door:

Reopen 5:30 PM! Sorry! Joey, 917-576-5161”

Which we thought was funny. Because it’s Joey, and Joey Tribbiani was supposed to live in this apartment like in the show, and the joke had to have been that the restaurant was not actually closed, but that it actually did not have enough food to satisfy the character’s appetite.

But when Qua and I walked in on a company dinner with wide stares and disgruntled sighs as we just ignored that note on the door, we realized that it was not a joke. Joey was a real person, and this was not a joke. When we explained our confusion, we were equally met with confusion and told to come back later when the restaurant was actually open.

If you ask me, I do not think those people know what building they work in. Which is honestly a crime.

Rather than choosing to wait for another hour and a half for the restaurant to open, the two of us went to the Strand Book Store, which is a heavenly place if I do say so myself. Four stories tall, this independent bookstore boasts of having 18 miles of books. Together, Qua and I clambered through all of the shelves and explored every floor and touched as many spines as we could. The smell inside of the shop was that of old crinkled paper mixed with an aroma of coffee. I wanted to open up every book, to tear through every page and read every word. I wanted to lose myself within the bowels of the bookish basement and know skyscrapers made from novels rather than those made from metal and glass.

Unfortunately, our time did not last as long as I would have liked here.

Nighttime was coming, and we needed to make our way back home. And since it was our last night, we decided to walk to Times Square from where we were to enjoy the last views before we had to go home tomorrow. We finally saw all of the landmarks of the city up close and personal. The Empire State Building. The Flat Iron Building. The Chrysler Building. The New York City Public Library. And we think we saw the Rockefeller Center as well, but we’re still not sure.

Our last full day in New York City was up; it was over and finished. We ate pizza from the very first place we got food here, and this time, Qua did not ask for ranch. Before going home, we enjoyed our last few minutes in Times Square as it was the start of the weekend and millions of new attractions found themselves there.

We never wanted to leave.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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