Friday, January 29, 2010

Engaged in New York

Reposting from January 2008, after a four-day trip to New York city with my then-boyfriend, dad, stepmom, brother and sister.

I won't bury the lead on this one: While we were in New York for the holidays with my family, Matt proposed at the top of the Empire State Building on Christmas day. And of course, after many surprised exclaimations, I said yes.
Now I'll share the rest of the story of the trip, because I think it's funnier if you know that for four days, he was walking around with an enormous ring box in his pocket!

We took the red-eye from Oakland to LAX to Atlanta to New York on Friday, Dec. 21. Being the eager beavers that we were, Matt and I arrived in Oakland about eight hours before our flight, and reluctantly made it to the airport two hours later. We had time to watch a movie and do a lot of reading before our flight left! Fast forward past several flights, uncomfortable snatches of airplane sleep and a few Wal-borne vitamin packets later, we arrived at La Guardia to meet my stepmom and sister at the gate. My dad and brother were down in baggage claim, trying to figure out where my dad's luggage was (Cincinatti).

We took a taxi to our hotel, the Grand Hyatt at Grand Central Station, and found out we couldn't check in, which meant no showering or changing clothes, so we went off to explore New York in our airplane clothes. We walked to Rockafeller Plaza, took our picture next to the tree, and signed up for the NBC studio tour. Then we checked out the ice skating rink, wandered around St. Patrick's Cathedral, and finally went to check in to our rooms. By that time, we were exhausted and went downstairs for dinner, which turned into about six hours of conversation.

Around 10 p.m., after everyone went their own way for bedtime, Matt asked me if I wanted to go to the "Top of the Rock," a bird's-eye view from the top of Rockafeller Plaza. I begged him to let me sleep (opportunity one missed).

The next morning, we went to brunch at Tavern on the Green in Central Park, then explored the park for a few hours. Central Park actually ended up being one of my favorite places in New York. I loved the juxtaposition between the wide open space and all those trees, and the skyscrapers that surrounded it. When we were tired of nature, we headed to its polar opposite: Times Square. But first we had to learn to navigate the subway, which ended up to be more difficult than we bargained for.

See, first you have to figure out how to buy the tickets. Then how to get into the subway station itself using the tickets. Then where your train is. Then how not to get stuck on the train with the guy who smells like urine. Then how to exit the station. It was a mini-adventure in itself! But finally, we were there. The Great White Way. Times Square. Home of Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve ... and the Charmin Disneyland of Restrooms!

See, Times Squre is pretty much exactly how you see it on TV. It's amazingly busy, bright and bustling. Just picture a location with ADD. So we were walking around amazed, admiring the neon, when we decided as a group of six that it was time for a potty break. Across the street, we saw a sign for free Charmin restrooms. We thought "What a great place to use the bathroom!"

But what happens is you go up two escalators to another land. Charmin land. There were TVs blaring a song-and-potty-dance routine. There was a line complete with velet ropes to use one of about 20 restrooms. There were photo opportunities with the bear characters. You could get your photo doing the potty dance with pom poms. There was a concession stand to buy toilet-paper memoribilia. And the bathrooms themselves were home-style, with beautiful doors, cleaned after every use, and contained two kinds of TP: soft or strong. There were guides dedicated to keeping the line moving and escorting you to the WC. It was the most bizarre place I'd ever vistited.

So of course, after that, it was time for a New York City hot dog. Not a dirty water dog from a vendor, but a dog from Papaya King. Or Gray's Papaya, both of which were featured on the Food Network. But instead, we found a Papaya Dog. They claimed to be associated, but were not. Still, good dogs. Since we were walked off our feet after that, we went to see "I Am Legend" with Will Smith, and saw what it would be like to be in NYC after an apocolyptic outbreak of zombie disease. Good to know. After that, pizza on Broadway. At the end of the meal, Matt and I lingered to find his hat, which he'd misplaced, and as we left, Pam asked "Did you say yes?"

I didn't get it.

The next day, my birthday, Dec. 24, we had an appointment with a photographer in Central Park. As we were walking along, Matt said to me, "I should have gotten a ring. This would have been perfect ... there's a photographer here and everything!"

Missed opportunity No. 2. He chose not to do it in Central Park to throw me off, and because he remembered that his sister had her engagement photographed, and didn't want to "copy."

But I was convinced by that point that he didn't have one, as I was sort of hoping all along. I mean, come on. New York at Christmas, with my family there? What more perfect time could you choose?

So we did pictures, even one of my dad "proposing" to my stepmom, in honor of their 25th wedding anniversary. After IT happened, he said that he was trying to give Matt an opportunity to "take a knee" himself.

Missed opportunity No. 3.

We had a crazy day of sightseeing after that: bra shopping at Town Shoppe (one of the other highlights of my tour), WTC, Statue of Liberty. When we finally got back to the hotel, he asked again if I'd like to go do something on our own after dinner. I agreed, but after dinner, the family ended up sitting and chatting in the hotel for about six hours. By midnight, I was too exhausted to think about stepping out again.

On Christmas Morning, we all said we wanted to try ice skating in Central Park. We walked through nearly empty New York streets to the rink, but the line stretched out for hours, so we nixed that idea.

Missed opportunity No. 4. He apparently had hoped to do it on ice.

So instead, we jetted over to the Empire State Building, and took a special tour that allowed us to skip the rumored three-hour line and go straight to the top (after watching a truly bizarre movie by Kevin Bacon that took us on a guided tour of NY AND through the space-time continuum).

By then, Matt said later, he had missed so many chances to propose that he wanted to do it immediately, once we reached the top, just in case something closed the Empire State Building, too! So as we were taking our first pictures at the top, he dropped to one knee and proposed. I started asking him "What did you do? What are you doing? How long have you had this?" and then realized I'd never said yes. So Yes I said, and we glanced up to see a crowd of about 25 around us, taking pictures, video and applauding.

I couldn't tell you even now what the view from the top looks like. But the ring is beautiful, and I'm incredibly happy and excited. We haven't set a date yet, or even decided how we're going to do it. We spent the rest of the time in New York just happy to be engaged, and the rest of our vacation after going home on Dec. 26 traveling from family to family to share the news.

So, like I said before ... I'm getting married!

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