After my first week of classes as a freshman at Baylor, my cousin, Trent, stopped in Waco on his way back to Dallas to have lunch with me. Even after a meaningful experience at Welcome Week and an encouraging first week of class, I can remember the importance of having a familiar face in Waco in the midst of the unfamiliarity (yet excitement) of my first days in college.
In the greater unfamiliarity (yet perhaps only matched excitement) of beginning my time in New York City, I also found great meaning and importance in being welcomed by familiar faces during my first days in the city.
One of those faces materialized immediately. My dear friend, Jordan Rippy, and one of her colleagues at Ernst &Young invited me to dinner on my first night in the city. I arrived at my hotel on Thursday at around seven o'clock; within the hour, I was with friends. We ate at The Breslin, a hotel and dining room famous for its lamb burgers. With a sort of Scottish hipster atmosphere, The Breslin did not disappoint. Our waitress was surely an aspiring actress - emotive and gregarious. I think the Guinness Book of World Records was also present to observe her attempt to set the world record for the most number of times a waitress calls the guests "darlings" in one night. I suspect she was successful in setting the record.
On Friday evening, after a full afternoon of ironing (my work clothes were wrinkled from the trip; I could not help thinking of John Travolta saying "I left my iron on" in his Baltimore accent as Edna Turnblad in "Hairspray".), Cole, my last-year Baylor roommate and great friend, came to the city for the weekend. He is living in Stamford, Connecticut this summer to complete an internship with an investment banking firm.
Cole and I ate at S'Mac (standing for "Sarita's Mac and Cheese"), a restaurant in East Village that serves only macaroni and cheese. The good folks there served us the wrong size portions making it look like we were more ambitious than we really were. We met a couple of aggies there; it is always nice to see folks from our proud conference. Oh wait.
On Saturday, we at breakfast with Jordan on the Upper West Side at a restaurant called "Good Enough to Eat" to gear up for our busy day. We went to the flagship Apple Store at Central Park South and 5th Avenue, the flagship, five-level Brooks Brothers at 44th and Madison, and Peanut Butter & Co. in Greenwich Village, followed by a trip to the South Street Seaport to pick up our theatre tickets.
At Peanut Butter & Co., we visited with a lady, Karen, and her nephew, Ryan, about the city. I explained that I had just moved here for a year, and she took a great interest in me. We had an engaging conversation. She was very knowledgable about New York (she lived here when she was my age) and told me that I need to spend time at the skyscraper museum downtown and in the Battery Park area. She challenged me to "seek and find the real treasures of the city and get passed the tourist stuff". I will surely do as she told me.
After our interaction with Karen and with others like her that day, Cole and I both commented about how open New Yorkers are - when you open up to them. I was and am encouraged by that openness and look forward to taking advantage of it this year.
On Sunday, we visited the Brooklyn Tabernacle to see the famed Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. We felt incredibly welcomed by that congregation and had a unique, worshipful experience. They are giving a free concert this Sunday afternoon; I will be there! Before Cole departed for Connecticut, we saw "Memphis", a Broadway show about the early days of rock 'n roll and the relationships that surrounded it. The show was amazing. I am always excited to go to the theatre, and as I go more and more often, I am exceedingly impressed by the professionalism exhibited in the shows. It is what keeps me going back!
Monday was my first day at Ernst & Young, but I will publish a second post about my first work week. I will now fast forward to dinner that night. My dear friend and beloved Baylor professor, Dr. Marlene Reed, was visiting the city with her daughter, Dr. Rochelle Brunson, another beloved Baylor professor, and granddaughter, Blair. Dr. Reed selflessly took time out of her family's visit to have dinner with me. She is thoughtful: after reading my first blog posting about missing Mexican food, she suggested that we eat at a good Mexican food restaurant in Times Square. We had a wonderful time of fellowship. Speaking of being exceedingly impressed, Dr. Reed and her husband, Bill, are two of the most prolific people I have ever met. Dr. Reed is one of the wisest and best people I know. Her acts of friendship to me over the years mean the world.
Just like my cousin's visit to Waco during my first week at Baylor, I will never forget these familiar faces that welcomed me to this place. I will always be grateful for them and the part they played in my first days in the city. They are a reminder of my life in Texas and of all the people whom I love most. They are a reminder of true friendship. They are a reminder that none of it is going away.