My good online friend, Hannah, lives in Australia. I thought my chances of meeting her in person were probably slim and that I would have to aim to somehow take a trip over to the Land Down Under to at least meet her (if not everybody else who I know over there). However, about a year ago or so, she talked about her plans to come overseas, to America. Much to my surprise, this trip was actually happening and her first destination was New York City! Knowing this, I made plans as fast as I could to meet up with her — I mean, how could I not? NYC is pretty close to me and I love it, PLUS I get to meet up with another online friend…one who lives much farther away than everybody else I’ve meet so far.
Coming with me was my adorable boyfriend, Hurricane. He’s friends with Hannah as well, so he couldn’t wait to meet her (also, it’s his second online friend meeting in person; I’m the first).
The person we didn’t know was Hannah’s friend, Gilly. I decided to friend her on Facebook the night before so we could somewhat get acquainted with each other. I also bought her a really cool Halloween bag with a skeleton head with glowing eyes with some American candy, since I was giving Hannah her Christmas gift I was suppose to give her last year.
Hurricane and I were originally going to go up Monday, but due to numerous reasons, I switched it to Wednesday. The day, at FIRST seemed like it was starting pretty well, until a sequence of events started happening: first, I couldn’t get in contact with one of my friends from work who really wanted to come to NYC with us; second, my iPhone syncing disabled a huge amount of my songs (all non-iTunes bought) and I spent about two hours or so trying to fix them, but failed; and lastly, I had some hyperventilation and frustration just from everything going on. However, once we were on the road for a while, I was good.
I was pretty excited for numerous reason, including that this is the first time bringing someone with me to NYC who isn’t my mom, I was meeting an online friend who I thought I might never have a chance of meeting, and just simply the fact I was going to NYC again! I feel like it’s been a year and, MAN, I miss it!
Hurricane and I were holding hands most of the time on the way to the train station and he took a really awkward picture of me and called me beautiful because he’s sickeningly sweet like that. I briefly showed him how to buy a train ticket and look up which train to get on, hit my knee on the side of a chair and got a bruise, and waited for the train. I felt really impatient. I already made everybody wait longer than I intended (I wanted to be in NYC by 9 AM! Now it was going to be about 1 PM when we arrived).
The train ride was really nice and relaxing. I kind of laughed because Hurricane and I both thought the same thing about it. Honestly, it just feels so great to kick back and relax after driving up for about two hours to the train station (which is worth it because there are trains every 20 to 30 minutes or so to NYC). We were messaging Hannah and Gilly over Facebook to inform them of how much longer it would be.
Soon enough, we arrived at Grand Central station! We were to meet Hannah and Gilly at Starbucks. I thought I remembered where Starbucks was…and yeah, I was right. I did have to double check a map of Grand Central, but that was only to confirm my memory of a place I had only been to once.
When we began walking to the corner towards Starbucks, I could see someone’s shirt peaking out. I knew it was Hannah. Why else would somebody be standing so close to the corner to turn out to greet someone who has kept them waiting for far too long?
And oh man, I was so right!
As soon as all of our eyes locked on to each other, we started a huge chain of hugs, like friends who hadn’t seen each other in a long time. Hannah and I jokingly touched each others faces to be like “YEP, THIS IS REAL LIFE. WE ARE REAL PEOPLE.” and it was fantastic. We took some pictures, I gave them their gifts, talked briefly about where we would be eating, and then…we began the “TrainerKelly Tour of NYC” where I took them to my favourite places.
The first stop was Kinokuniya, which, if you have read my blog before, you know it is generally my first stop in NYC. It’s my favourite place to go when I’m visiting NYC. This time was a tiny bit different for me because I didn’t spend that much money there (I didn’t really have anything to spend), but that’s fine. I did feel a bit bad because nobody really seemed interested in a bookstore that was focused on Japanese books and I got reminded that there’s a reason I started going to NYC by myself.
After that, we headed to Book Off, which is another Japanese bookstore chain (except it focuses on used books, instead of new ones). Everyone seemed a tiny bit more into that one for whatever reason, which was cool. I bought a few things too and, just like with Kinokuniya, couldn’t really spend much because I didn’t have money to spend. (One day again, ONE DAY AGAIN!!!!)
Once we were finished with Book Off (a.k.a. after I paid for my stuff), we headed off to eat at some Korean place that had pizza. It wasn’t too bad of a pizza, I must say (the veggie one was DELICIOUS). They gave us cold sauce though, which was annoying…but oh well. It was a pretty good chance for all of us to talk and talk, which we did. We talked about Pokémon a majourity of the time (which I laugh, because it was Hurricane who had initiated most of the Pokémon talk, despite poking fun of me a few days before that Hannah and I were probably going to talk about Pokémon), such as our favourite outfits (which I was, of course, completely alone for not having heavy feelings towards the original series stuff (despite that I’m a gen 1 kid)) and 4Kids’s ridiculous edits. Apparently, Gilly never knew about 4Kids and their infamous edits, so Hurricane pulled up a YouTube video showing them (including the famous riceball-to-a-sandwich edit in Pokémon and the Yu-Gi-Oh! guns-to-pointed-fingers edit that is hilarious). Gilly’s face was priceless! She appeared so dumbfounded that they would actually do something like that!
Once we were done with our food and decided we had enough talk about paint edits, we headed off to NINTENDO WORLD! Nintendo World was the number one place to go on Hurricane’s list. As we took a walk there, I mentioned that the place used to be the Pokémon Center and that the doors to Nintendo World were reminiscent of it, since they had Poké Balls on them (which I had to point out when were were leaving). When we entered, Hurricane almost right away went to play some game demos, before walking around and taking pictures excitedly. We went upstairs to check out the Pokémon section, which was sadly quite small, as it usually was. It was kind of cool though to see that they started to sell Pokémon manga and I was super tempted to purchase them…but naaah, I didn’t. I wanted to get the Pokémon T-Shirts too, but I didn’t feel like spending $21 on a T-Shirt was a good idea at that moment (plus, I wanted Pikachu and Froakie sooo badly on the shirts; also, the shirt sizes looked really big…so big, I thought I could fit into a small!) I walked around, unsure what to get, when my eyes latched onto hanafuda cards.
Hanafuda (hah-nah-foo-dah) are Japanese playing cards. They’re different from the ones we generally see though, as you have to either match the flowers or the months on the card, instead of numbers.
So why would Nintendo World sell hanafuda cards? Well, before Nintendo made video games, they made hanafuda cards. They still make them today, but not really for much purpose other than a nod to Nintendo’s origin.
Nintendo World advertised the cards as picking up a piece of “Nintendo history”, which did partially get me. I think what got me even more so was that the cards were, very clearly, imported from Japan. There was no sight of English localization whatsoever.
I picked them up, then put them back down.
Then I picked them up again and put them back down.
They were calling to me, but ooooh, did I really want to spend the money on it?
I picked one up and carried it around with me, while I sent Hurricane to buy me a surprise gift (he always wants to be buy me something). I contemplated while browsing the Pokémon items. I talked to Hannah and Gilly in the meantime. I overheard a conversation between a customer and a Nintendo World employee, where the customer asked if they had a “classic Pokémon” as a plushie and the Nintendo World employee just kind of froze because everything they had was from the current generation, then proceeded to awkwardly recommend the Trainer-Sized XY starters.
Hurricane texted me and I went to the lower level of Nintendo World, paid for my stuff (I gave in to the hanafuda cards; I also bought a Luigi keychain for Hurricane). Hurricane gave me his gift — a Hylian shield keychain for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I loved it!
When we were done with Nintendo World, we headed to M&M World, where I spent FAR more than I intended on a bag of M&Ms and tried out a “your colour M&M” machine per request of Hannah & Gilly who tried it out a few days earlier. I got the green M&M as my colour. Hurricane also tried it and got silver…as well as being told that he secretly wanted to be a famous mime. He yelled at the screen in a rather hilarious way while I pulled him away and he was like “I can’t talk, I’m suppose to be a mime!”.
After that, we went right across the street to the Hershey’s place, but didn’t purchase anything because I was feeling terrible about my too-expensive M&M purchase.
After that, we didn’t really have anywhere else to go, so we went to both the Disney store and Toys R Us.
The Disney Store was pretty nice. There was a TON of Frozen stuff, which made me happy. I wanted to buy a lot of it! Hannah and Gilly were saying that Hannah wanted to stuff Gilly into one of the Olaf costumes, which made me laugh. When we were walking around the first floor, I noticed a bin of young Elsa & Anna toys. For whatever reason, I just LOVED the Elsa plushie and looked at it, quietly sobbing inside about how I wanted it. Hannah took it and I was a bit confused…then she told me she was going to buy it for me! I told her she didn’t have to, then decided to go walk upstairs to the princess section (which was a painful walk since my legs were already shot from both work and walking all day long), just to let Hannah decided if she actually really wanted to buy Elsa for me. I browsed that for a while with Hurricane, then went back downstairs and both Hannah and Gilly gave me Elsa (geez, little Elsa is SO CUTE! I LOVE HER.).
Then we went to Toys R Us. First we went on the Ferris Wheel, where I had to close my eyes and desperately cling to the pole out of fear most of the time, then we checked out the gaming section (geez, that was HUGE), then we left.
We didn’t really know where to go after that (I wanted to go to Uniqlo, but I was too quiet to say anything), so we just went back to Hannah & Gilly’s hotel room. We hung out there for a while, while Hurricane and I recharged our phones and he showed off his YouTube videos and I danced parapara for them with the little music I had. I flipped through the magazine I purchased at Kinokuniya (Pokémon Fan) and Hannah & I pretty much went crazy over the “Oops!” line of Pokémon items. Pikachu’s face looks stupidly adorable in it (I also love Numera’s face too).
There was a bookstore I still wanted to check out too called Strand that I found out about via BookTube. Hannah and Gilly couldn’t come, but kindly walked Hurricane and I to the subway. We said our good-byes with lots of hugs and teary-eyes (I didn’t expect Gilly and Hannah to start tearing up!), then Hurricane and I went onto the subway.
I visited Strand, primarily with the idea that I was just simply trying to find the location and browse inside. I found the bookstore and I LOVE how huge it is! Definitely not the place for manga though — the section is superly duperly small and looks like they primarily chose the most…”classic manga” series. Oh well. Their Young Adult section was well-stocked though and I most certainly will go back one of these days just for that section.
After that, we walked back. I was sad to find out that Hurricane still hated NYC (he liked being with me and he liked my favourite places, but he hated NYC itself), including all the walking and requested that he drives up and everywhere. I told him, no, partially horrified. One of my ABSOLUTELY FAVOURITE THINGS about NYC is walking everywhere. I hate, hate, HATE driving. I don’t care if someone else drives — I want to take the train up. Part of the enjoyment of going to NYC for me IS how I travel there, by train and by foot! If that’s taken away from me…what’s the point of going? Even when my feet and legs are hurting and I start limping, it’s still worth it.
He claims he’ll come back with me though and I don’t doubt that.
We headed back home, got to the train station, and was absurdly caught in traffic at midnight because of construction. I was also having a hard time staying away, so much so I had to wake Hurricane up just to talk to me.
Overall, the trip to New York was joyful and I was happy to go back to one of my favourite places to visit! My only regret was not having more money to spend. However, that’s all right — I can always go back again with more money. I just hope the books I want are still there next time I go.
What I Bought (and What I Received)
I didn’t buy as much as I usually purchase when I go to NYC (insufficient funds, dang iiiiit), but I did still get some pretty great items!
Kinokuniya – I purchased ポケモンファン (Pokémon Fan), which is a pretty inconsistent Pokémon magazine that reveals a ton of game information, anime information, and advertises other upcoming and current Pokémon Products. It also comes with some REALLY cool bonus items, like the Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire art-board, this little Pikachu suction cup figure that goes along with some sort of playset, and a Mega Lizardon (Mega Charizard) magnet! I also bought Tokyo Mew Mew Omnibus volume 2, so I have it for my comparison of Tokyopop’s Tokyo Mew Mew releases V.S. the Kodansha ones.
Book Off – I bought some Pokémon 2nd movie guide book thing (I have the first movie one, so I figured, hey, why not pick up the second one too?), Lies are a Gentleman’s Manners (which is one of the most heart-wrenching BL manga I have reason and probably one of my favourites), and Yurara volume 5 because I was missing that one.
Nintendo World – I purchased hanafuda cards, which are super small and in this gorgeous plastic case. I also bought a Luigi keychain for Hurricane (although, it’s not pictured here).
The Hylian Shield keychain is from Hurricane.
M&M World – …I bought too many M&Ms. Grrr. (They are SOOO tasty though! The Birthday cake one was a pleasant surprise.)
Disney Store – HANNAH AND GILLY BOUGHT ME ELSA!!! Oh gosh, I LOVE IT. (Totally afraid though she’s gonna replace Darkrai…but nooo, Darkrai, Elsa, BOTH of you can protect me!) THANK YOU SO MUCH, YOU TWO. EEEEE.
I knew I would end up having to leave by the end of the day from Hannah and Gilly, so I was prepared for that. However, this doesn’t make me frown any less than the possibility of never seeing them in person again. I really, really, really hope I do though.
I haven’t really had a chance to meet one of my overseas friends before Wednesday and really, the saddest thing to me is that there is a possibility that we may never see each other in person again. I’ve meet a few online friends who live on the other side of the USA, but to me, they are still within reach pretty easily. Australia though…that’s a whole other continent!
It’s even sadder to me that meeting Hannah and Gilly in person was one of the most natural offline meetings with an online friend I ever had. Even with meeting Hurricane for the first time in person, there was this awkward adjustment that we had to make (which usually is because people aren’t the height we expected them to be, haha). I hope to see them again, especially soon.
Hannah and Gilly, I definitely miss you two and I probably will keep missing you!