So did y’all know that I love my brothers? Well, newsflash: they are the freaking best. And my youngest brother, Joel, is wrapping up his time at Marquette University as an athlete. He’ll be graduating this Spring with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, but he’s savoring his final year with his track and field team as a pole vaulter.
It’s because of his awesomeness that my entire family ended up in NYC this past weekend. We got to watch him pole vault on Staten Island at the Big East Indoor Track and Field Championships. As other vaulters started dropping out of the running, Joel knew that this was his time to work on getting higher. That meant trying out new, longer poles to vault higher. With a vault of 15’ 9”, he was clear to win pole vault, so he made some attempts with the longer poles to push his attempts to a BIGGER PR. You can see his vaults with the video below.
Joel will downgrade this win, but my little brother has ONCE AGAIN won the Big East Indoor Championships in pole vault! And overall, Marquette won 2nd in the conference. After he got his medal, Joel was pulled aside for a quick interview - in which my other brother completely video bombed. Oh brothers.
The following day, we had the morning to go explore NYC (since we were still in New Jersey), so we took the free ferry from Staten Island to Lower Manhattan (and this time, it’s not Illinois!). We walked up Wall Street, saw the Bull (see the meaning of this statue here), walked by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the Federal Hall National Memorial (where George Washington was sworn into office), Trinity Church with some REALLY old gravestones, and finally the 9/11 Memorial.
The last and only other time I was in NYC was back in 2007 for a high school choir trip (we got to sing in this amazing cathedral downtown), and when we drove past ground zero, there was still rubble and excavation happening. To see the memorial now, honoring those who lost their lives on this horrendous day 16+ years ago, was breathtaking. There’s just something about being there - it’s so silent and chilling. Even more special, the keepers of this memorial put white roses on victims’ names when it’s their birthday.
We took the ferry back over to Staten Island (seeing the Statue of Liberty on the way) and watched Joel do some high jumping before hugging him goodbye. My parents dropped Brent (my other brother), Alex (Joel’s girlfriend), and myself back at our hotel (seriously check out the Watt Hotel) and they flew back home. We took a nap before hopping on the train (right across the street!) to roam NYC again that evening.
We covered a lot of ground Saturday night - and I chose not to take my camera with me so that I could enjoy. The train took us to Pennsylvania Station which is right underneath Madison Square Garden. From there we walked towards Times Square, passing the studio where Jimmy Fallon records his Tonight Shows. We got to Times Square, checked to see if there were any tickets for The Lion King (just for fun, but there weren’t), and visited the Hershey and M&M stores. After that, we walked to and into Central Park, saw Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Station, and finally got food at Heartland Brewery.
Sunday we realized that no conductor ever checked our train tickets for Saturday, so we used our already purchased tickets to get to NYC again (basically we got a free trip to and from NYC). The weather was the worst on this day - super low-hanging clouds and spitting rain all day. But, we were determined to hit a few more things before we left for home. Walking through the rain, we got to see the Empire State Building (but not entirely since the top was in the clouds), Kleinfeld’s (YES, OMG it was as amazing as it is on TV, and yes I went inside and peaked around), the Flatiron Building, Lombardi’s (the oldest pizza place in the US), and finally realized we need to stop walking. Took the subway to walk on the Brooklyn Bridge, then called it a day.
I mean, what a weekend. With water-soaked socks and shoes, we all boarded our planes ready for good rest in our beds. I think it’s safe to say that I don’t need to see any other places in New York City - unless it’s a friend or a Broadway show!