I always seem to have a good time in NYC. The drive down was grueling. It took about 11 hours to get there in our rented Grand Prix, including a couple of hours waiting at the border, and a couple of hours for lunch, dinner and bathroom breaks. The border delay was the worst. Note to self: avoid Queenston Lewiston as a border crossing. Because of construction, every car entered on the far left lane that branched out to about six lanes eventually, but there was no way to know that until you were stuck in that far left lane going nowhere. It took us well over an hour to get through the border.

I think we had to stop about three times to pay tolls within about 20 minutes of the city. I found the placement of this sign just at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel toll gate somewhat ironic. If it was intentional, it’s brilliant.

Arriving in the city brings back memories from previous trips. The sights, sounds, and smells of the place aren’t always pretty, but they’re certainly unique.

At about 11, we checked into the Holiday Inn Express, between 7th and 8th Ave. on West 29th. It’s not a bad place. Pretty generic, with small rooms, small beds, and tiny pillows, but basically clean and a safe home base. A nice touch are the free apples and oranges available at the front desk at all hours. A few of us walked a few blocks to the UCB Theatre after checking in to pick up our performer passes and see some improv.

The next day I took a walk around the city. I was hunting for a place to buy the Canon 24-70mm f2.8L lens. B&H, where I normally buy equipment, is closed on Saturdays, so I couldn’t get it there. No one else seemed to be able to come even close to B&H’s price, so I decided to pick it up on Sunday morning instead, before we left for home. Later in the day I met up with Diny, and then with the rest of BiJ for lunch and warmup. We went on at 2:30pm. It’s always fun to perform at DCM, because you can bet that most of the people in the audience are hardcore improv fans, and they’re going to give you an honest reaction to your set. I think our set was decent. Our suggestion was “creme brulee” and we spun out a montage of scenes from that. We’d decided ahead of time to skip the opening and launch right into it. We’d also decided not to try to get too distracted by form and just have fun. I think the set was was balanced and connected, and we got some good laughs out of it.

After the set, I watched some of the other improv groups perform. Standouts included Them Do This and Rare Bird Show. Both of these teams were inspiring for their smart and funny play.

That night, I had dinner with Nick and some of the other folks I originally met at DSI in North Carolina a couple of years ago. A number of them, including Nick, have moved to NYC to pursue their artistic dreams and careers. That’s pretty cool. It’s certainly not an easy move, but when you’ve gotta do it, you’ve gotta do it. I admire that.

After dinner, I checked out a few more shows. The theatre, by this point, was packed to the point that you couldn’t move, and had a relative humidity of about 98%. Knowing that that humidity was 100% human sweat made it doubly uncomfortable. I made my way back to the hotel and crashed for the night, or at least until my BiJ mates came back at 4am. We stayed up until 7am reliving the day’s events, until we realized how depressing it was that the sun was already coming up and that we had a 10 hour drive ahead of us within a couple of hours.

I slept for a couple more hours and then headed out at 9 to visit B&H again. It so happens that this Sunday is the only Sunday all year that they’re closed. It’s a Jewish holiday. I could have gone to another store to get it, but I decided that fate was trying to tell me something about buying this lens. It was not meant to happen right now. I decided to try to find it in Canada instead.

I strolled back to the hotel, soaking in the morning ambiance of the city. It’ll probably be another year before I make it back again, and I wanted to enjoy it: the smells that wrinkle your nose, the sounds that deaden your ears, and the sights that boggle your mind. It fascinates me that within a couple of months of living in NYC, these things would seem normal, and suddenly anything less would seem bland and unexceptional. That is, unless you’re exceptional and can recognize that each moment is also exceptional, no matter where you are. I’m not sure what my point is.

The drive back was pretty easy, despite Mother Nature hammering us with alternating rain and hail storms. I think we got back in less than nine hours. Sweet.