The year was 2002 and the internet connection was only possible with a cable. I was in college at the time and as most of us in our early 20s around that time, I was spending countless hours in online chatrooms and online forums in order to talk to people from all over the world. It was really exciting and fascinating that, at the time, I could be at my desk in Greece but I could talk to people from anywhere else in the world. I would go online to talk about music and made sure I visited the websites of all my favourite bands on a regular basis. Ahhhhhh, the years where FaceBook, Twitter and the likes where non existing and people actually visited other websites to be informed about things we were interested in!
So why this seemingly unrelated introduction on a post about New York? Because one day at an online chatroom on the website of tool, I started to chat with my now good friend Matthew. Ever since that first day we talked online we kept in touch and have virtually but in a very real way supported each other through crappy jobs, difficult situations and bad relationships. We also celebrated each other’s successes and beautiful moments without ever meeting in real life. Now that I am in New York, that was finally about to change.
I was so excited to finally meet with him in real life and talk endlessly about music in general and about Maynard James Keenan more specifically – we are both obsessed with him. I was also a bit nervous being that this would be the first time we would meet in real life. We talked almost on a daily basis for years and we knew almost everything about each other but what if there would be nothing left to say? Would we have awkward silences? What if he talked in a bizarre way? What if he could not stand my loud voice? What if he saw me and thought I looked weird? Should I have kept this friendship digital only? OMG!
The day started with some shopping in Brooklyn and soon after Tanguy and I made our way to the Grand central station which was Grand and Central ™ I would probably have paid more attention to the architecture, the building and its beauty but I was more focused and excited to get to see Matthew. I tracked him from afar and from the first seconds I felt familiar. It was like we have been hanging out since forever. We almost immediately headed on our way to the city to what was about to be an awesome day with a friend I knew since forever.
We started off by visiting some cheesy NYC souvenir shops in order to get some necessary obligatory gifts and then walked over to 30 Rock!! I would not rather do this with anyone else than with Tanguy and Matthew!!!! I had chills. This was a big moment for me ! I am a big fan of Saturday Night live and I have been watching almost every NBC TV show available to me. I secretly hoped until the very last second that I would accidentally run into Tina Fey there. She is one of my female heroes, she is a comedy and improv genius, the first head female head writer of Saturday night live, she had her own show starring Alec freaking Baldwin, she has written a book about her craft and she is half Greek I mean COME ON how can I not adore her? How could I not hope to run into her? Hear me out, I am not delusional. It is not like I was hoping to see random celebrities storming the streets of New York, meeting her would not be impossible she works at NBC (I think) and she lives in New York and here is a very real picture of us meeting:
Ok ok, no that did not happen. Not even close. Not even stumbling upon her during her lunch break or while she would participate in some sort of street youtube video – interview. No, nein, nada. Damn it. Oh well, there is always next year I guess, be prepared Tina! I am coming for you! In a non freaky stalker way , always
We spend sometime admiring the Rockefeller plaza which was filled with people on this very sunny day. Shortly after we went into a mini quest to find the NBC experience store because it was harder to find that you would imagine. I guess, people in New York or normal tourists do not care about a TV gift shop but what the hell? Why hide such a money maker?! When we finally found it inside the NBC building, I felt like I was in my Disneyland. All the SNL, Parks and Recreation, Seinfeld and Friends merchandise were whispering to me “Buuuuuyyyyyy me Despoiiiiiiiiiina you know we are meant to be together” and if they would accept Bancontact at this store I would have spend all of my money right then and there. Thank God they didn’t though so I had to be careful if I still wanted to afford dinner that day.
After shopping a lot of SNL and friends merchandise, we walked out, found a diner, ordered some beers and fries and talked about music what else? I loved every moment of it. We talked about our music habits, about the way we buy or stream or illegally download music today. About albums of the past, just like the online chats we have had only better! We talked about our New York impressions, our plans and about how clueless we are as to how much we have to tip everywhere we go so Matthew had to give us a quick course on US tipping, on how to best see Central Park, where do they sell the best donuts and more!
We resumed our walk down the New York avenues, we finally saw the real Drumpf tower, next to a Tiffany’s, a hideous building in my opinion, and then we reached Central Park. Matthew talked about his life with Katie and life in Poughkeepsie over yet another beer at the park.
The plan was to visit Hell’s Kitchen next. After the mandatory touristic, gluttony stop at Dunkin Donuts, we stopped at a random restaurant in the area for some more beers. Hell’s kitchen is a lively quartier with a lot of restaurant options which all seemed to be good and expensive. I must admit that the overall impression I had of the area was average compared to other neighbourhoods I walked through in New York so far. We talked the evening away and I wish it would last way longer ! It was time to part ways though…….
Matthew it was great to see you and I hope we can welcome you and Katie in Brussels soon enough.