In April, my mom and I took a train from Bronxville, New York into Grand Central Station and from there we walked forty blocks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Along the way we cut across St. Patrick’s Cathedral as Sunday mass was letting out, walked down Fifth Avenue, admired the Harry Winston and Tiffany diamonds that we can’t afford, I flipped off Trump Tower and then we strolled through the park. While in the park, we grabbed ice cream and petted every dog that crossed our path before making it to the steps of the Met. We passed through the exhibits with ease, having nobody to rush us, and when we got hungry we ate lunch on the steps of the Met; courtesy of the hot dog vendors. Whenever we got tired, we sat down and relaxed in front of all of the art.
My mother has always believed that the Met, in particular the Temple of Dendur, was her happy place, which is why she was so adamant that we spend the day there. When my mother and I were there, we spent about as much time inspecting the people there, as we did inspecting the art. My mother thinks herself to be an expert people watcher and commented on everybody from the Park to the Met. In particular, she commented on how many people at the Met were clearly on a date. Once she pointed that out to me, I noticed all of the couples milling around, dressed in upscale casual attire and turning to the artwork as a reliable source for ample conversation.
It struck me that taking a trip to the Met was an ingenious idea for a first date. By seeing how someone reacts to being in one of the greatest art museums in the world, you could tell right away what they care about. Maybe they’re superficial and vapid or maybe they’re genuinely fascinated by art and history. It also just seemed like a refreshingly different sort of date. No one there had the intention of a bland “let’s go see a movie” type of approach.
When I first moved to New York, I decided that I was going to befriend a stranger and we would recreate the outing by walking to the Met. That is exactly what I did with my roommate Jackie, who also happens to be an art lover. We walked to the train station and once we were in the city we walked all the way to the Met. By the time I reached the steps of the Met, I was not much more than a ball of sweat and sore feet. We both immediately ate lunch, which happened to be lamb gyros from a street cart, and then we perused the museum. We both were particularly excited to see “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” since it was the last day of the exhibit.
The line to get inside the exhibit felt like a subway platform at rush hour and we were shuffled in and out of it as if they were trying to evacuate the building, but the glimpses of outrageously priced haute couture made it all worth it. The first part of the exhibit can only be described as a colorful hallway, filled with ensembles throughout history, funneling into a back room with even more fashion. The back room had stark neon colored walls that made the mod sixties look like Speilberg’s Schindler’s list.
While some of the outfits looked like something that should only be worn to a party at Jay Gatsby’s house, some looked more like the bedazzled t-shirts I used to buy at Justice when I was twelve. The campiest outfit that I found in there can only be described as a big bird-looking, explosion of fuzz, but I would strut down a runway with it on if Anna Wintour asked me to. Jackie and I spent ages getting lost in the Met, since it is the type of place you can wander aimlessly through and still end up somewhere cool. Naturally, my phone died at the worst possible moment so I could not take as many pictures as I wanted to, but if phones never died then I would have photographed the entire building.
I will always love the Met because of events like these, yet it isn’t just the place itself that makes me happy. When I went on the trip with my mother, the day was not just about combing through the museum. We spoke to one another for our entire 45 minute train commute and then briefly enjoyed the underappreciated ambience of Grand Central Station. We laughed our entire way to the Met, regardless of where we were in our trip and then kept that same energy up for the remainder of the day. We had no set structure, so if we wanted to walk through St. Patrick’s or spontaneously get ice cream or sit and pet dogs atop a large rock in the park or judge Harry Winston’s, then that’s exactly what we did. That sort of careless bliss always makes for a great outing.