I was just hanging out on the couch one Sunday morning, watching TV and thinking about all the things we needed to do to prepare for our six months in Thailand when I got a text from my good friend who has the cool Hollywood job (we will call her Kiwi). The text simply read:
Any desire to join me in NY the first weekend in October?
Of course I had to check with Trent and check with the budget because we had so much prep to do before we vacated the house for six months and rented it out. And of course our sabbatical budget was lean. Oh please, who was I kidding? The answer was YES!
My generous friend was offering to let me crash with her during a work-related trip to NYC. I just needed the Travelocity Gods to be good to me so that I could afford the flight. And they were! $254 for a round trip. From there I could take a shared Lyft ride to the hotel for about $20. Did I mention it was the Ritz Carlton overlooking Central Park? When my friend asked if I preferred a park view or a city view, I almost fell over!
Room with a view…
My plan was to stay a week, visiting some other friends in Philly and in the suburbs while Kiwi worked. Of course, I would tag along to a few of her work events like the NY Film Festival premiere of an HBO documentary about her boss.
When she told me that I was likely to run across the man himself, as well as Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, well, I flipped out.
I’m easily star struck while these encounters are just another Thursday night or Monday afternoon for her.
Prior to this trip to NYC, my only celebrity encounters were Usher (also in NYC back in the late nineties) and the guest speakers we brought in for our annual work gala, among them John Quinones, Michael Bloomberg and Gen. Colin Powell. I’m sure there have been a few others over the years, but none that stand out.
The trip to NYC began with a bang. The movie was great, like watching the best parts of all your favorite Spielberg flicks in one sitting and with personal commentary by the artist. It’s a must watch for anyone who grew up on Jaws, E.T., and Raiders of the Lost Ark like I did. The only failure of the movie was failure to mention his greatest work of all time, The Goonies.
Before the movie, I talked my way into the press area where I stood near Steven Spielberg, actress Kate Capshaw, and some of their children. I gawked at Mike Myers and Meryl Streep, and just generally felt out of place while trying not to show it.
Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw at Spielberg premiereMike Myers
After the movie was the lavish private dinner for about 100. The food and the venue were both spectacular.
More celebrities like the dog show guy from Best In Show, one of my all time favorite movies. Meryl and Mike were also both there. It’s okay for me to call them by their first names because, well just because it sounds cool. But it was nearly impossible to get a picture without looking like a total idiot. So I didn’t.
We had so many more great meals and drinks, and so much delicious ice cream (Ever heard of cereal milk ice cream? What about Big Gay ice cream?) Chicken parm pizza anyone? Uh-mazing. Margarita with a strawberry/jalapeño/Cointreau ice cube?
Best margarita ever. They make 28 ice cubes a day and it takes 3 days to finish them.
Chicken Parm Pizza at Quality Italian. It’s basically chicken parm in the shape of a pizza and it changed my life.
Decor at Big Gay Ice Cream. #goldengirls
Unfortunately, due to a celebrity whim (I love to tell this story but will keep it under wraps here for the sake of my friend), Kiwi’s trip had to be cut short and since I can’t afford The Ritz, that meant I had to leave early too. Sad face. So what was supposed to be 7 days in NY turned into 3. But they were a very satisfying 3 days, and thanks to Sabbatical I was able to have them at the last minute without worrying about leaving anyone in the lurch at the office.
A friend of mine pointed out to me this luxury of being able to “just say yes.” It’s something I hope to carry back with me to the real world when I return…if I return…