Saturday, October 20, 2012

Didn't Sleep To Well


Yesterday was a very, very long day. But it was also amazing.

Still didn't sleep too well, and the sun is coming in through our window like a giant spotlight early in the morning. After tossing and turning for a bit we got up and headed out. Our breakfast plan was the uber-health conscious dunkin' donuts, and despite it being literally across the street from us, it took us about 10 minutes to find. In our defense, it was down by the subway and not at ground level.

We walked down 53rd street to Moma, but were 40  minutes early and rather than wait in line took a stroll around the neighborhood, through the Rockafeller center and past the fifth avenue shops. 

After killing time for a bit we went back to Moma where the line seemed long but moved fast. I knew which floors I was interested in, so we started at the very top, 6th floor. There were two special exhibits, one on Alighiero Boetta and another on design for children. Both were interested but not what I had really come to Moma for.

What I had come for was on the 5th floor: Magritte, Dali, Modigliani, Matisse, Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh, Malevich, Miro, Tanguay, and all that good stuff. We went through room after room of modern painting. I didn't use the audio track much because I didn't want to be distracted from the actual paintings.

I was familiar with many of the paintings, but nothing compares to seeing a painting in person, it just evokes a different feeling in me than seeing photographs in books or on the internet. Moma has one of my favorite Magritte paintings, Empire of Light 2, and it was like running into an old friend. I spotted a Modigliani from across the room. Salvidore Dali's Persistence of Memory was much smaller than I expected, as a lot of famous paintings have been. Andrew Wyeth's Christine's World casually hung in one corner near the elevator, as though she couldn't get herself into any of the main rooms either.

We had lunch at the mid-range cafe, discussing the art we'd seen and what famous painter we'd want hanging on our walls. I've discovered that Tart's and Quiche's and things with warm cheese are always the safe choice at museums.

We went through most of the rest of the museum at a fairly rapid pace, checking out the Warhol and etc. There was a special exhibit on the Brother's Quay which was very interesting, and we did slow down for it, but it left them as enigmatic and unknowable as ever.

Though a bit sore from all the walking we headed out to do a bit of shopping, but I didn't find anything I loved. We searched for food in the Times Square area but it was a bit too touristy, and after fussing tiredly at each other near our hotel we grabbed some snacks from a nearby convenience store for dinner. It was a marked difference from lunch.

After that we rested a bit because we were about to go see Sleep No More -- the most anticipated part of our trip. For months we weren't even sure we'd be able to see it, because it was scheduled to close before we'd get there. All my relations and friends were subjected endlessly to descriptions and eager hopeful proclamations. Nervously we'd log onto their website and watch the dates eek closer to our vacation days until finally they were extended through September. So, putting it mildly, we were very excited (and nervous) about seeing Sleep No More. 

Getting there on the subway was easy, and we found our way to the McKittrick hotel with no trouble, joining a long line of people ready to go in. It wasn't too long before we entered.

It's the kind of thing that's hard to talk about, because it feels like it should be a secret. It's hard to even describe the feeling, an adult play land of dark hallways and mysterious rooms, dancers and nudity. Trying to define it would take away the magic, and trying to leave it mysterious would make me sound like HP Lovecraft, full of indescribable and unnamable. And of course, pictures were not allowed. That would ruin the experience. The few people talking when they shouldn't annoyed me for breaking the atmosphere.

Here's what I can say:

Before even donning our masks, Tech Support and I got split up and I was terrified at being alone but also okay, because I wanted us to have separate experiences. Still, when I found him 10 minutes later I took the opportunity to startle him. We explored together for maybe an hour before I lost him in a room full of people. I kept an eye out for a tall guy in a light shirt, but there were quite a few of them. (Later he told me there were a lot of short girls too). 

I spent the next two hours or so wandering on my own until the climax of the show, when we were all shuffled out of the hotel. Tech Support and I found each other and rather than fight the crush of people, headed back out into the real world.

It was a surprisingly gentle transition. It was now after ten and dark and moody outside. We took the opportunity to walk over and sit on the high line. We felt safe even though it was late and we were in a strange neighborhood, and sat and talked about the different things we'd seen. Tired and foot-sore, I pushed us to head back to our hotel. While walking down the high line we heard a strange voice from underneath, a recording, say "Bad Animals. Tapeworm. Rats. Cockroach." And in some way it felt like we were still in a performance art piece. (Of course it was another bit of art we'd stumbled across.)

In our room, we made reservations to do Sleep No More again on Friday.

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