PJ and I are back from New York. All I can say is, so that’s what everbody’s been talking about all these years! Like just about everyone else, I too love New York! I’ll have several posts about our trip in the coming days, but I thought that I would start with an overview of my thoughts about visiting Manhattan for the first time.

Times Square at NightI’ve taught about New York for years now. The texts in my GLBT lit course often revolve around New York as one of the most important havens for gay people throughout the twentieth century. It’s a shame that it’s taken me so long to get there. I’m definitely provincial, the son of working class, conservative parents who never really instilled within me a desire to travel to places like New York or Paris or wherever. One of the things that I like about being with PJ is his urging that we travel and see places. I’ve tended to be a homebody, but I think I’m increasingly gung-ho about going to major cities and experiencing more of the world. In the past decade, I’ve come to love London, Madrid, Washington DC, and San Francisco. I know I’ll never be a New Yorker, and I realize that one trip to the city is only a small taste of what it has to offer. But New York is now on the list of cities I love. It was everything everyone said it would be: wonderful, vibrant, commercial, tawdry, busy, noisy, expensive, and fabulous.

We had three full days in the city. Our hotel was about two blocks from Times Square, so we saw the theater district every day. We saw many of the usual tourist sites: Rockefeller Center and the Christmas Tree, Radio City Music Hall (though we didn’t go in or see the Rockettes), the Empire State Building, Macy’s Christmas window displays, the U.N., St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Grand Central Station, the World Trade Center site, and Battery Park.

We also went to a few museums: the Guggenheim, the Metropolian Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art. We saw four plays while we were there: The Vertical Hour by David Hare, Avenue Q, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (with Cynthia Nixon), and The Little Dog Laughed by Douglas Carter Beane. We went to a few gay sights: Parsons The New School for Design (even though Daniel Vosovic and Uli were robbed we still love Tim Gunn!), Christopher Street, Liberation Park, the Stonewall Bar, the Oscar Wilde Bookstore, and Chelsea. We also ate well and saw a few other random things, including part of the financial district, Washington Park, the Strand Bookstore, the Chelsea Hotel, the Flatiron Building, a bit of the Upper East Side, a bit of Greenwich Village, and the film version of The History Boys. And I finished reading Wayne Hoffman’s Hard. All in all, not a bad trip.

The only downside was leaving (and I mean that literally): we took a shuttle bus (arranged through our hotel) back to JFK; it was the scariest form of transportation I have ever taken. Our driver drove perfectly through the crowded streets of Manhattan, but as soon as he hit Queens it was as if some crazed demon took over. About one block after crossing the Queensboro Bridge, he simply lost all sense of danger or inhibition. While he had been aggressive throughout Manhattan, he suddenly became fiendishly aggressive: woe to anyone, any truck, any pedestrian who dared get in his way. I’ve had cab drivers who yelled at other drivers before (in Barcelona, for example); this is the first time that I’ve had one who got yelled at by other drivers. Simply put: he was crazy. PJ and I will forever think of every day we live past December 1st, 2006, as a gift from Ganesha.

Over the next week or two, I’ll post my thoughts about many of the things we did and saw in New York. PJ often kids me that all it takes is for me to go someplace once to make me want to go back again and again (rather than go somewhere new). So, he wasn’t surprised to hear that I want to go back to NYC soon. While I often fantasize about spending my next sabbatical writing in Sitges, Spain, or about spending time in London each year or so to do research, going back to New York has to be more than a fantasy. I loved our trip and want to do it again soon.