Leaving New York City is always a sad affair. This time felt more like home than any time in the past. There was so much to do, I probably slept no more than 5 hours per night on average.
Before leaving for NYC people asked me "What are you going to do there?" to which my answer was always "Just hang out". It's my favourite thing to do in a city. I'll sit and have a coffee or beer somewhere, talk to some of the locals, share some stories and then move along. But I'll also try to immerse myself in as much of the city life as possible.
This time I was staying at the Hotel Chelsea which is just as famous for the people who died there as those who didn't. Our room was really big, lots of space, private bathroom, and a window overlooking busy 23rd street.
It was the perfect location. Chelsea, itself, is a hub of blind people, bad drag queens and has-been tough guys. Such an interesting location is rare and the hotel was a mix of tourists and residents who all felt at home.
A couple of plays (or "people movies", as I prefer to call them), still in previews, made for excellent live entertainment. Seeing James Gandolfini, Marcia Gay Harden and Jeff Daniels in God of Carnage gave some great laughs and it was an absolute pleasure to see Daniels work his magic on stage: a sincerely under-rated actor.
The great surprise, though, was the latest Neil Labute play, Reasons to be Pretty. Four people in the cast and all of them superb. If the Tonys are anything like the Oscars, everyone in this cast will be overlooked for nominations because they pulled off too realistic a performance for anyone with a voting form to notice.
Sprinkled elsewhere in the stay were a successful Chelsea exhibition opening, catching up with friends, a fair bit of shopping, a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, a trip to Coney Island, a ride on the Staten Island Ferry, and an 11 course degustation menu prepared, overseen and expedited by Tom Colicchio.
It was a time I won't soon forget. I've always travelled alone and was concerned that travelling with someone, and someone so close to me, was going to cramp me. It was surprisingly easy and I've learnt the joy of sharing experiences. It's also valuable to learn that not all experiences can be shared. Art, for instance, is a very personal thing. I've learnt that but it still does not hurt to share.
Coming up: Niagara Falls, Chicago.