I just spent a successful afternoon stimulating the economy. Hello, consumerism.
So as I mentioned before, I've been spending the week in New York. Between hopping around from dorm room to apartment to dorm room between Brooklyn and Manhattan, getting lost both on and off the subway, and eating lots of good food (at a range of prices from surprisingly affordable to disgustingly expensive but deliciously worth it), the week has been going by unfortunately quickly.
Today I spent some time in lower Manhattan (I have been spending a surprising amount of time in lower Manhattan for primarily staying in Brooklyn?) while my friend and host was in class, meaning I had to be ejected onto the streets--unlike Oberlin, NYU and its schools have a stringent guest policy involving signing guests in and out, which makes sense in a place like New York--although I've spent the least time getting lost in Manhattan; Brooklyn always manages to get me infallibly lost.
So at around 11:30 this morning, after arriving in Union Square and grabbing some coffee, I headed off to The Strand Bookstore, only to end up in an Urban Outfitters two blocks down (oops). After being mistaken for an employee by a French family and making some purchases (no such thing as too many sweaters), I went back to Broadway, where The Strand is located between 12th and 13th Streets (look, Ma, I can do directions!).
For those of you who don't know, The Strand is a miraculous and fantastical new and used bookstore, the interior of which looks a little something like this:
Multiplied by maybe five hundred times that space per floor, times three floors plus a basement. I don't make very concrete plans when I travel, A) because I hate looking like a tourist and B) because I like to let things occur naturally, but I knew that The Strand was one location I needed to visit while I was here. The afternoon was spent wandering through aisles of fiction and mystery and plays and history, smelling book after book (My father and sister and I all have an affinity for smelling books. Sure, it may be the smell of mildew and bookworms, but there is nothing I love more than the scent of a well-aged novel.) and picking things up on impulse. For a store whose slogan is "18 Miles of Books," their selection does not disappoint.
Other things Dan has accomplished while in the city:
Yesterday night, I met up with my friend Hannah, who I haven't seen in about two and a half years when we went to camp together--she's actually the first friend I've seen since then, though Facebook has kept our relationships going strong. We went out for some delicious pork buns and then walked around Manhattan, talking and laughing and catching up. I'll admit that I was a little apprehensive, having not seen her since I was 17, but we fell into the groove of things as easily as if we had last seen one another a matter of weeks ago, though we had much more space to fill with conversation.
After meeting up with Hannah, I went up to the apartment of my friend Sophia--she felt like a celebrity for being mentioned in my last entry--who just got back from staying with friends in Chicago for her break. It was a pretty Obie-filled night; we Skyped with our friend Aly in Ann Arbor and goaded her little brother to apply to Oberlin. Then I got to surprise our friend Mandy, who lives down the hall from me at school and is staying with Sophia for the rest of break, by greeting her at the door to Sophia's apartment completely unannounced. I was met with a hug and the exclamation of "Dan Redwood, can we just be best friends right now?"
On Tuesday night, I stayed with my friend Chloe, who was Aly's roommate from last year; unfortunately, she was traveling to Baltimore to stay with friends so I only got to see her for the one night, but I spent the next morning hanging out with her parents. Daphne and Ken are sweethearts, and even offered to have me stay for another night. It is always surprising how many Oberlin students come from New York, considering that in terms of size and activity the two are practically polar opposites.
I spent most of Monday and Wednesday hanging out in the dorm of my friend James, from home, who goes to NYU, making it as evident as possible that I go to school in a small town. Actually--in my opinion, anyway; the people who actually live in them might think differently--I found the dorms to be surprisingly homey, once you get out of the sterile, anonymous hallway. The door opens onto a kitchen/living area, connecting to standard open doubles and a bathroom. It was such a culture shock to me having to take the elevator to get to James' dorm on the 14th floor (technically we were on the 13th floor of the building; the designer must have been superstitious because the numbers skipped from 12 to 14), whereas the two tallest dorms in Oberlin are four stories.
All in all it has been a relatively relaxing week, apart from toting my duffel bag around; tomorrow I am taking a train back up to Albany and on Sunday (Halloween? Halloween!) I fly back to Cleveland. Fall break has been well appreciated, and I am so many kinds of grateful that midterms are over, but I have been missing Oberlin since I left; it is that kind of place. Empty Oberlin is especially nice; I was here over Winter Term last year and arrived on campus two weeks before the school year started. If you get the chance to stay in Oberlin when no one else is on campus, take advantage of it. The first thing I did last January was bike around my lounge.
The best part of vacation? I woke up at 10:45 this morning, which was the earliest I have been up all week.