“So, where are we going, exactly?”
“It’s on West 89th Street, past Broadway,” I told Mr. Wanderlust.
We had inadvertently taken the express subway train north toward Bronx, and had missed our stop. After getting back on a southbound train to backtrack, we walked along Central Park West and then continued our pleasant sunny stroll through Upper West Side, admiring the brownstone buildings on our way to search for Kathleen Kelly.
I first watched You’ve Got Mail in the year 2000. My mom, sister and I had rented the movie on a Saturday night. I was riveted by the beautiful New York setting of the film; the precious children’s bookstore, The Shop Around the Corner, central to the story; and the old school-style romance between the two main characters, with a modern day twist. I also became fascinated by Meg Ryan’s adorable character of Kathleen Kelly, her love of literature, and particularly Jane Austen; her optimism; her understated style; her quirky mannerisms; and yes, even the decor of her apartment. I wanted to be Kathleen Kelly, or at least to have her as a BFF. This wasn’t the first time I wished that a fictional character were real, but I remember how strongly I felt the inspiration to be like Kathleen Kelly.
Mr. Wanderlust and I enjoyed a wonderful quick getaway to New York City over the weekend for some couple time. I had previously visited Queens and Long Island, but had never been to Manhattan and felt elated at the opportunity to enjoy a few days in the city. Of course, I also wanted to pay a visit to an old friend.
Approaching the house in which Kathleen Kelly ‘resides,’ I looked up at the front door to see it open. I actually let out a quiet gasp as I watched a woman in her mid-30s exit the building, dressed in a yellow cotton tank top, black cropped leggings and running shoes, with two large canvas bags slung over both shoulders. As she walked toward her car, parked at the curb, to deposit the heavy bags in the trunk, she glanced at me briefly with a blank expression on her face. I image she must see many tourists like me on a daily basis as they approach the building timidly, snap a selfie, giggle self-consciously and walk away, muttering quietly about how nerdy they feel.
I crossed casually to the other side of the street and took a photo of the building from the sidewalk. In my periphery, I watched as the woman drove away, then sprinted back across the road and up the cement stairs toward the brown wood and glass door, channeling my best impression of Kathleen Kelly returning home after a busy day at The Shop Around the Corner. Mr. Wanderlust directed me through a few more poses and I gingerly stepped down the stairs again, shaking off the feeling of intruding in some way upon the privacy of the residents upstairs. I imagined them sitting at the front windows above me, glaring at me and shaking their heads with a bored expression on their faces, thinking, “There goes another one.” I had to steal a quick glance toward the third storey windows. No one there.
Before walking west toward Riverside Park, Mr. Wanderlust offered to take a photo of two women who, like me, had quietly stopped in front of the entrance to take a selfie. He directed them to walk up toward the front door for a similar picture of the one he took of me.
The following morning, after breakfast at the beautiful lounge of the boutique hotel where we stayed in Midtown East, at 7:30, wearing the little black knit dress I had packed for the trip, I paid a visit to a favourite spot of another dear BFF, Holly Golightly. This time, we didn’t have to travel far. After a five-minute walk along an almost-empty 5th Avenue, Mr. Wanderlust and I had the street to ourselves, just like Miss Golightly, greeting the sun’s sparkle as it bounced off the perfect diamonds in the window of Tiffany & Co.
“I should have stopped at Starbucks to buy a coffee and croissant, just for the sake of the photo,” I half-joked.
“It would have been your second breakfast of the morning, at Tiffany’s.”
“I suppose you can cross two items off your wish list,” Mr. Wanderlust announced to me several minutes later, as we walked toward Rockefeller Center. I sighed in response.
“Yes, I suppose you’re right,” I smiled up at him. “It’s been a perfect weekend.”