“No man is an island,” John Donne boldly claimed. Funnily enough, I have heard it suggested that there was no way John Donne had ever been to the island of New York City when he said those words because everybody in New York City is an island, not caring about what the other little islands are doing. Writers need to remind themselves that they’re not islands, especially when they’re brooding over their own works and agonizing over a single sentence, and here I speak with some experience.
Not being an island myself, I often get by with a little help from my friends and during my second day in New York City, I spent some time with my friend Julia, the first of many of my friends on this trip.
Julia, one of my best and closest friends, unfortunately could not make it to my birthday party, but was able to hang out with me on one of the days leading up to it. She spent the afternoon with my mother and me at the Chelsea Market, showing us the indoor vendors and promising not to spoil John Mulaney, whom she’d seen the night before.
The Chelsea Marketplace is an indoor market, perfectly situated in the meatpacking district, where you can buy and eat just about anything you want. We had a great time: me eating my Japanese and Mexican fusion tacos with mint, hibiscus tea, Julia eating something similar, and my mother eating jerk chicken, followed by creme brulee and donut holes. Julia let us talk about our family and social issues, while finding out what was going on in her life.
Then, we hit the market.
I tried on several rings and nearly bought too much pottery. Julia bought me a creme brulee as a birthday gift because I couldn’t decide on a ring to buy. I talked her through which pens and cups to buy, being that they are her addiction. I walked away with several new books. A person could spend a day going from market to market, getting inspired by what’s around every corner.
After Julia left us, my mother and I ventured out on our own, walking aimlessly along the highline. The Chelsea Highline is a nice, peaceful bridge to walk across on a cool day, filled with street performers and people selling artwork, spanning across Chelsea.
Few people I know would go to the Chelsea Market without making a pitstop at the Highline, if for no better reason than to walk all of that off. We wandered onto the Little Island, being pipelined from the Highline onto a pier at the Hudson River.
The Little Island is a patch of grass in the Hudson River, making it the island of New York City’s newest island, donated by a New York billionaire. An argument could be made that, for a moment, we were no longer part of the main.
It was an incredible summer day in which the best of the city was out in full force. Everywhere you looked there were people rollerblading, couples buying soft-serve, and kids rolling down a hill. Then there were people nearly dying of heat stroke– oh wait, that was just me and my mom. It was a pleasant trip over an idyllic island, the type of thing that I picture when Jane Austen is describing how overwhelmingly beautiful Pemberly is. After experiencing and roasting on the Little Island we headed back to our hotel to reunite with my aunt and cousin and prepare for John Mulaney.
When I’m with my Aunt Natasha and my cousin Olivia, we always pick up right where we left off. Most importantly, we’re always on the same page, so when we were on our way to see John Mulaney together, we stopped for some dinner and some drinks, talking about the things that we all care about: Roe V Wade getting overturned, the New York City apartment search industrial complex, and the Running Up That Hill scene from Stranger Things.
At Madison Square Garden we watched John Mulaney perform his newest special “From Scratch,” named for the fact that it covers his recent life-altering escapade of going to rehab and how he recently revamped his life, starting from scratch, like scorched earth. It was easily the funniest night of my life. My man John Mulaney can deliver a line like no other, to say nothing of turning tragedy into humor and laughing at himself. He had us eating out of the palm of his hand from the opening line. I’m so proud of that lanky, tall child with feminine hips, even though I’ve never met him. (If you’ve never seen his standup, I’m not sure how that sentence just sounded to you).
Julia was right: it was a hilarious routine and there’s nothing like being there in person. Not to spoil the ending too much, but he ended it by saying that through his journey he learned that you cannot rely on external forces for your happiness in life. Drugs, alcohol, even people, cannot be relied on for your own happiness. He now is in a better place, happier than ever, having gotten through it with a little help from his friends, because no man is an island, not even John Mulaney.
The Tragic Queen,