I'm back from New York.
We left early in the morning on Saturday, took a bus to Des Moines, flew to O'Hare, and flew to LaGuardia, where we hopped on a charter bus which took us to midtown Manhattan. We shopped for a while, or in my case, just looked. Eventually, a group of us met and had dinner at a Thai place, which was very good and remarkably reasonably priced, considering it was in the middle of an entire neighborhood that pretty much exists to prey on hapless tourists.
Sarah sarahtomic and I met up with Kate and Jenny, our adorable alumni hosts, who invited us to take the subway with them up to their place, which was up at 215th Street, the northern tip of Manhattan. We were at 57th. I should have bought an unlimited weekly MetroCard then and there, but I was still afraid of the subway, and I thought I was going to be avoiding it for the rest of the trip. Wrong. You really can't avoid it, nor would you want to. It is very big, but really not that scary. Unlike the el, it has no charm. But, also unlike the el, it is fast and on time. (I bought the unlimited card the next day and ended up getting my money's worth out of it.) We took the A to the D to the R to Brooklyn to sing at a church service the next morning, but we had the wrong address for the church and ended up walking farther than expected. (Classic quote from me, upon explaining to our director why we were late: "Oh, we didn't get lost. We ended up in exactly the wrong place!") However, I didn't mind the walk. In fact, it was then that I really started to be excited about being in the city.
K & J wanted to know all about Grinnell in the years since they'd graduated. We did our best to catch them up, while they told us what it used to be like. We snuggled with their cats, and they made us chocolate chip cookies and let us use their matching iBooks and told us about their matching library science degrees and matching librarian jobs. As far as I can tell, they do everything together. We talked about running, and it turned out they even trained for a marathon together, and they have a picture of themselves crossing the finish line together. Too cute! We stayed with them for two nights, then stayed at the downtown Hilton for two nights. It was kinda swanky -- definitely swankier than the places we usually stay on Singers tours -- and within walking distance of all kinds of stuff. Just south of our hotel was the sensory assault of Times Square; just north of it, snow fell peacefully on Central Park. I enjoyed both.
Our concerts went well. Neither went perfectly, but then nothing ever does. I was just happy that we were able to pull off our more difficult repertoire as well as we did, and I was especially happy about how, in our concert at St. John the Divine, we were all paying attention to our director closely enough to really give him a chance to play with the pieces and conduct expressively. There are few things in life more thrilling than knowing that you are one of 50 people creating something beautiful through total focus and concentration on the same thing. And this place definitely tops my lifetime list of performance venues. It's a beautiful cathedral that's been under construction for over 100 years, and will be for several more decades. This is understandable, since it's going to be the world's largest when it's done, and it's already huge. Really makes you feel insignificant. The reverb in there was incredible -- as our director pointed out, it's the kind of space in which a piece like "Spem in alium" was designed to be sung.
This is the first Singers tour for which I've been 21, so my friends and I went out to bars, comedy clubs, and so on (not like being underage would have mattered at a couple of these places, though). On the last night of the trip, there was a big, drunken party like we always have on Singers tours, but I missed it. My excuse for not going: I'd packed very light in order to carry on my luggage, and there was some foul weather while we were there, so by that last night, all the clothes I'd brought were dirty or damp or slushy or smelled like the subway, and after I'd taken a shower, I couldn't stand the thought of putting them on and going to a party. I know that's a silly excuse not to go, but I was also tired, and I wanted to get up early the next day to go shopping in Chinatown and SoHo with some people. And we did ("we" meaning Sarah and three other girls and me), and we tried on pink dresses and haggled for sparkly bracelets in the street, and it was girly and wonderful and everything shopping is supposed to be, but usually isn't.
I'll probably write more about the trip eventually, but this entry's getting a bit long-winded. Anyway, now I'm in Iowa, and I need to spend the next week at my parents' house, catching up on running and cleaning out my room. But I should mention that I was so inspired by those sparkly bracelets that today I dug into my secret stash of thrift-store beads and old broken necklaces, and I made myself five new bracelets. (Every now and then, my recessive girly-girl gene decides to manifest itself.) There's one made from some random wooden beads and some handmade glass beads that were given to me by my best friend, all lumpy and lovely and full of air bubbles; there's another that uses up some swirly green ones I've had forever, as well as three cool millefiori ones that I've been trying to find a use for; one is just cheap translucent pink plastic beads on a blue elastic cord; one's salvaged from a old necklace I loved, with tiny shell discs and malachite spheres; and one has wire coils and some small, shiny black beads that were originally on a necklace that I wore to my high school senior prom, but subsequently hated.