I’m spending today in New York City in advance of a business trip. The business-trip add-on is my new favorite thing, and I want the opportunity to do a lot more of it. Hanging out with me here for a couple of days is a dude who’s seen a good chunk more of the world than me, yet here in New York, I’m the closest thing to an expert, as a former resident, while he hasn’t visited in more than a decade. So I’ve taken it upon myself to play tour guide.
Step 1: Get the nostalgia tour out of the way.
My nostalgia tour can be done quite pleasantly in an evening. From Union Square (where, if the Greenmarket is open, you can buy some apple cider and cookies to fuel the journey), head south on University past the awful cinderblock dorms where I lived as a freshman in college. Tell the story about my friends dancing for change on the street. Walk through Washington Square Park, explaining how I used to write world-changing poetry here underneath hair I’d tried to dye purple that turned out gray. And so on, over to 2nd, stop into the Sly Fox for a drink, up and over to the apartment where I almost fell off the balcony, don’t mention why, and on and on.
Step 2: Now do something more current and interesting.
The entire trip is not supposed to be about how it used to be. I’m sure your traveling companion is somewhat interested in your stories, but really, shut up already. Things have changed a lot since you lived here. That great tea place has closed down. Don’t mourn for too long. Move on to just doing the normal touristy things (which, for me, is wandering around stumbling into interesting stuff on the street).
Step 3: Be useful.
You’ve got the knowledge here. You know which subway line takes you to Prospect Park. You know where the best Indian restaurant is. You know how far in advance you have to line up for tickets to the UCB show. You know how to haggle. Take care of all that stuff. You are, essentially, a host. Act like it.
This also means that when the question arises, over breakfast, “What are we doing today?” you should have an answer or two at the ready. Not a full-blown itinerary, necessarily, and nothing to steamroll over the other person’s desires, but be prepared with a couple of suggestions. You’re from around here. You know what’s worth it and what’s a dud. Your job is to lead the way.
And don’t forget to go to that delicious little bakery on 11th St. That would win anyone over.