Summer 2019: Back to the City (w/ Kids) – Part 2 & 3

Alright! After our relocation, new school year and sick days I’m finallllllyyyyy finishing my Summer series of our time in New York City.

Day 3: July 18th – Brooklyn

I love Brooklyn! Looking back, I can’t believe I didn’t spend more time in the borough while living in NYC. Other than going to church (The Brooklyn Tabernacle) every week – I didn’t really spend much time exploring Brooklyn.

While Malachi and David napped, Levi and I took a stroll around our hotel and came across a tiny cop car – he was equally impressed and intrigued. The officer came out of a bagel store (in true NYC fashion) and offered to let Levi sit in the car. He was excited with a smile from ear-to-ear. But as a third-culture-kid, having zero awareness of the relationship between police and people who look like him, he didn’t notice the stares, eye-rolls and people stopping mid-stride to observation of his encounter. It wasn’t lost on me.

WhatsApp Image 2019-08-15 at 5.41.28 PM (5)The day we arrived in Brooklyn it was announced – five years later – that criminal charges would not be brought against the police officer who killed a man, Eric Garner, a lifelong Brooklyn resident. After we thanked the officer and continued walking I shared with Levi the story of Mr. Garner’s unfortunate death, along with the impact of his last words “I can’t breath”. Sharing the effect his death and last words had specifically on black and brown people in America. He had so many questions. Most, I could answer. Some, I couldn’t. In the end, he understood why it raised an eyebrow or caused an emotional trigger to those who saw him getting into the police car. It’s one of the things I love about being black in my community – people were looking out, aware that we were tourists and keeping a watchful eye on Levi. Though the officer was very respectful, approachable and kind to us – giving a warning about the neighborhood we were in; I’m well aware that our experience with this officer in Brooklyn could quite possibly be drastically different to the experiences and interactions of the people who reside there.

We grabbed some lunch at City Point Shopping Center. A great place to grab something on the go. They also have a Target and Trader Joe’s, which are all indoors – that turned out to be great for us as it rained on and off all day.WhatsApp Image 2019-08-15 at 5.41.28 PM (8)

We planned to go to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, it was a pay-as-you wish day! The kids had a good time but it was pretty packed and hot inside. I’d imagine during the fall or winter months this would be a great place to take kids and let them explore!

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By the time we left the museum we were all exhausted. We took a nice stroll through Brooklyn on the way to the train. I wanted the boys to take a picture in front of a brownstone. NYC Brownstones, specifically in Brooklyn and Harlem always remind me of the Cosby Show. I remember growing up wishing I could live in a house like the Huxtables! I grew up in a nice spacious home with a big yard so I’m not complaining in the least. But, something about steps leading up to your door and a swinging kitchen door always intrigued me!

Day 4: July 19th – Brooklyn

We continued our fourth day in Brooklyn. We headed to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. It was a free visitation day! Ya’ll it was HOTTTT, we got some ice from the small cafe in the visitors center, filled up our water bottles and headed out. I don’t know why I wore yellow. The bees were in my face the entire time, and although I’m not afraid of bees per se (I’ve never been stung); the sound of a bee is what makes me flip out, annoy David, make my kids laugh and likely give passerbys something to laugh at.

The garden was beautiful. Obviously visiting in Summer we missed a lot of the natural beauty that comes with Spring, but I was so happy we went. Levi continued to complain of the heat, Malachi just wanted to run the grounds without any boundaries. Overall, the kids loved it. David has a knack for taking pictures of bugs and flowers up close, so he was in his zone. Again, I could imagine visiting in Fall and it being lovely, crisp and cool! Definitely a place worth visiting.

Okay, here’s where I lost my hardcore New Yorker card – on day four. As I was channeling my hubby and attempting to take a photo of a flower, this random man came up to me and was trying to give me tips and suggestions. At first, I tried to decline politely. He insisted and said, “here let me show you” and took my phone. I’m thinking, okay he’s going to show me how to get a good photo of the flower. The area we were in was slightly secluded, though David was somewhere around the corner with the boys, I couldn’t see them or anyone actually. So this man takes my phone and starts instructing me to move closer to the flower and telling me how to pose. I looked at him and smiled – at this point, I was simultaneously confused, annoyed and uncomfortable – as well as mad at myself for even letting a stranger take my phone and boss me around.

As I smile “for the camera”, he says, “No! Look at the flower, don’t smile and pose. Gaze at the flower”. Ugh, I knew it. I let my guard down and I’ve been slippin on my NYC street smarts. I made a rookie move and now I’m figuring out how to get out of it. As I’m looking at the flower, I’m thinking about how many women get put in the position of not wanting to upset a random man in public – because we never know! Is he calm, aggressive, manic, creepy, dangerous, socially-awkward? He could be bats*it crazy and we (women) have to decide in the moment how to respond and in attempt to keep ourselves safe.

I then say, “okay, thank you” and walk towards him to get my phone. He backs away from me and says, “here, stand right there – that’s a good spot”. Guys, I’m embarrassed….I did it (sigh). I assessed my situation – no one was around, I couldn’t tell his demeanor or character. He was dressed casual and “non threatening”, but he also seemed “not all there”. Even if I started yelling, the maze type area we were in – full of flowers and bushes, I’m not sure if anyone would know where the yelling was coming from. I didn’t want to alarm David or our kids. I didn’t want to cause a scene. So I obliged to this entitled man. Hoping this is just some weird photographer wannabe and there’s no reason to be alarmed. I said a quiet prayer, looked at the flower he was talking about, then looked at him with a face that said “I’m not playing this game any longer so…”, with that don’t try me face I say, “thank you” and reach for my phone. He reluctantly hands it to me and immediately David and the boys walk around the corner towards us. I start walking away, he’s mumbling something, David is instinctively alarmed and starts to ask what was happening. I just wanted to get away from professor creeptographer as quickly as I could.

Check! I’ve had my weird NYC experience and although not much to tell, it was a cautious reminder to do better and reign in my trust and naivety.

Still Day 4!

WhatsApp Image 2019-09-03 at 11.57.57 AM (3)We left the gardens and headed to Harlem to meet our dear friend, Adrienne. She picked a family friendly restaurant to have lunch, Harlem Tavern. The food wasn’t the best, but the service was very hospitable and it’s a convenient location to bring kids. After having lunch we headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and with a minimal donation through Adrienne’s membership.

Personally, the MET isn’t a museum I’d go with my kids, especially not a toddler. It’s a place I’d love to take my time and mosey around: have a coffee – keep exploring – grab some lunch – continue exploring and finish the day with a glass of wine nearby. There’s so much to see and feeling rushed with one bored kid and another energetic toddler who wants to touch everything is less than ideal. But again, I’m happy we went!

We took a quick pass through Grand Central station, Levi was not impressed. We got on the train to head back towards Brooklyn. Unfortunately, the train was delayed and after about 40 minutes sitting on the train we decided to get off, grab a bite and head towards Bryant Park. My handy spreadsheet had a concert with songs by Stevie Wonder at the park that day. Surprisingly, when we arrived there was a Gospel Choir which we all enjoyed!! We hung out at Bryant Park, juggled with random jugglers in the park and finally headed back to Brooklyn.

Day 5: July 20th – The American Museum of Natural History

Alright, so it’s September 3rd and my memory of mid-July is pretty sparse! So I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves 🙂

We arrived to the museum directly from the train station. By going directly to the members only kiosk and making a small donation we were able to skip the longgggg line and go directly into the museum. Pro-tip which we failed to do, pack a lunch or grab lunch to eat inside. The cafeteria was CRAZY packed and it was a bit chaotic.  Overall we had a GREAT time at the Museum!

Day 6: July 21st – More of Brooklyn

We spent the day hanging around Brooklyn. Unfortunately, we arrived to Jane’s Carousel as it was closing. We grabbed a bite at Time Out Market, enjoyed some Ice Cream from Odd Fellows and walked along the waterfront.

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Day 7: July 22nd – Governors Island, Staten Island Ferry & 9/11 Memorial

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Governors Island is completely slept on! It was so calm and quiet with barely anyone around. Though there isn’t much to do there, with kids it’s a great place to go. There are no cars, so they can walk and roam freely. Once again, we should have packed a lunch and brought more snacks. If we did, we definitely would have stayed longer!

We hopped on the Staten Island Ferry in order to see the Statue of Liberty. This ferry is free so it’s a great way for kids to see the statue. If you don’t get a good visual on the way there, just try again on the way back. All together it probably took us one hour from start to finish, including wait time.

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The 9/11 Memorial was heartbreaking. Unexpectedly, I cried…a lot. Levi couldn’t understand why I was so emotional and David did his best to console me. My heart was moved so deeply for those that were killed and the family and friends that consider that location a cemetery. It was a somber place but worth a respectful visit.

Day 8: July 23rd – Rainy day in Brooklyn

We didn’t do much other than laundry and errands. We kept it simple and gave our feet a much needed rest!

Day 9: July 24th – Brooklyn to Midtown East: Central Park

This day was great! It was hot – I can’t remember too many details but going through my photos I’m reminded that we were sweaty but all smiles. We covered a lot of Central Park!

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Day 10: July 25th – Harlem

We ventured out to our old neighborhood in Harlem to meet up with old friends. The kids played, we had lunch and simply enjoyed being in the place we once called home. We were both caught off guard by the amount of non-brown faces in Harlem. Gentrification has been quite aggressive since the last time we visited, but that’s a whole other blog post.

Day 11: July 26th – African Burial Ground National Monument, Washington Square Park & Chelsea Market

This day was all about applying for Malachi’s social security card. After going to the wrong government building and then venturing out to the correct one, we pretty much just wandered around Lower Manhattan. On my handy spreadsheet for Lower Manhattan was the African Burial Ground National Monument. I am SO SO happy I got to go to this monument. After walking around reading the plaques we caught up with a tour of the grounds just in time.

It was emotional for all of us, thankfully Malachi slept through most of it; leaving Levi to have our full attention as he asked questions and struggled with the idea of slave infants, toddlers and children being amongst the bodies that were discovered and reburied at the monument. He had a few questions for our tour guide and made sure to tell him first, “some of my ancestors were slaves” and the guide responded, “mine too”. It was a sad and sweet moment with a complete stranger. We inside, walked around the small museum and purchased a few books to support this national site. If you’re in NYC I’d encourage you to go by!

We met our long time friend and family at Washington Square Park and then headed over to the Chelsea Market. The plan was to walk the High Line as well, but we were exhausted – and exhaustion is a recipe for tantrums from any member of my family. So we called it a day – and it was a lovely day!!

Day 12 July 27th – Dylan’s Candy Bar, Times Square

Self explanatory! The boys had a blast here. We had lunch in the diner, nothing fancy but a fun lunch for the boys. They each got to choose ONE candy to purchase.

Summer time in New York City there are all kinds of festivals around the city. We walked through Times Square – a complete tourist trap – but Levi enjoyed seeing a site he’s seen in plenty of movies.

Day 13: July 28th – Brunch in Harlem & Midtown to Newark

We ventured up to Harlem for breakfast, only to realize The BLVD Bistro only opened for brunch. A few nights prior I went to FCBC for a panel discussion and viewing of an Aretha Franklin documentary: Amazing Grace. Afterwards, my friend Adrienne and I went to the BLVD for dinner. I NEEDED to visit this restaurant again before leaving NYC, just for the biscuits!! Also popped by Cafeine for a quick iced-coffee!

We headed back to our hotel in East Manhattan, ordered an Uber and headed to our final hotel in Newark, as our flight left the following day.

New York City could not and did not disappoint. I left with sore legs, sore feet, a smile on my face and a full heart. I loved it so much! New York City isn’t for everybody, some people hate it and have absolutely no desire to visit or even live in the City. For me, I pray it’s in our future to be New Yorkers once again!

 

 

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