Nathan's After Party at Professor Thom's

A New York Minute.

On 3 days in New York and balancing have tos and want tos.

It was in bar in Sevilla, Spain, many years ago now, when a fellow backpacker asked me what I liked most about traveling. I paused for a moment before saying, “When you’re home and wake up the first thing you think is, ‘what do I have to do today?’ But when traveling you think, ‘what do I want to do today?'”

I’ve been home “for good” from traveling for over 8 months now and my life has become a list of have tos. I have to clean before guests come over. I have to do dishes before the entire place starts to smell. I have to call the landlord to fix my doorbell. I have to go to work and once I get to work there’s a whole new set of have tos waiting for me.

That’s not to say there aren’t any want tos at home and that’s not to say there aren’t any have tos on the road. It’s just that, in each situation, one outweighs the other.

I flew to New York this weekend in my first trip outside of Chicagoland since coming home. And, after a couple of weeks filled with 12-hour work days, it was nice to get away, if only briefly.

It was a weekend of wants.

I wanted to spend my first morning meeting my friend Kristin (who I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge with last year) at The Cloisters: a branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe (admittedly, a place I only knew of from The Baby-Sitters Club.)

Unicorns at The Cloisters in New York

I wanted to meet another friend in Williamsburg, where we went bar hopping to an arcade bar, to a bar that gave out free pizza with every drink and where we he dominated at pool, to another bar that had skeeball.

I wanted to watch the competitive eating event of the year: the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest (I’ll post more about that later in the week). And, afterwards, I wanted to hang out on the boardwalk and drink beer. And, after that, I wanted to go to the after party with all the eaters and drink and talk and dance.

I wanted to walk around Prospect Park, which was only a few blocks from where I was staying.

I wanted to eat everything (if only there were time for everything)(there’s always time for diners).

After only three days, I didn’t want to leave so soon.

But, I had to.


Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

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