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Monday, April 14, 2008

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Be a Part of It...


The last time I brought my family home to Newfoundland, in the summer of 2005, we had an eight-hour layover in Newark, New Jersey on the return leg. Obviously, we were not going to spend eight hours in Newark, New Jersey. At least, not in the airport.

So we hopped a train and some time later, found ourselves in Times Square with about four hours left to kill.

It was quickly determined that, obviously, we were not going to wander around Times Square for four hours with three kids age 1, 4 and 6.

So we hopped on a bus. A double decker tourist bus. With a loudspeaker and a "New York Sightseeing" sign emblazoned across the side. I was mortified. I wished I had a souvenir t-shirt that said, "I may heart NY, but in no way do I identify with my fellow passengers."

It was not exactly the kind of hipster, have-kids-will-travel globetrotting I always thought I would one day do. The truth is, just navigating the supermarket with small kids is too much for me. The globe will have to go un-trodden until the youngest can get an international driver's license.

But all my self-consciousness melted away as we pulled out from the curb. Because, Oh My God, I was in New York! I gawked and pointed uninhibitedly the whole time. I loved it, and I knew I would have to go back one day to gawk from street level.

The year before I was born, in the spring of '68, my mother went to New York with my father and his brother and my aunt. I grew up hearing stories about them stumbling onto a love-in in Greenwich Village, about being in Harlem when riots broke out because Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot. It was a mythical place in our family lore. And though my mother travelled wide and far since then, she never got back to New York city.

This week she is attending a conference in Connecticut, and for months, she has been planning to spend this Saturday, her birthday, in New York. She has been emailing me excitedly about her planned pilgrimage, which largely revolves around dead poets and beatniks. It's a hybrid of a pub crawl and the stations of the cross, as I understand it.

Everytime she's mentioned the trip, she's expressed the fond wish that I could join her. From the beginning, I've had to say no. It just wasn't financially, or logistically, possible this year. Another time.

Some weeks ago, I found out that I would be taking a little business trip. My expenses would be covered. There were still logistics to be worked out around childcare, and I knew we might be moving house soon, but whatever hesitation I felt evaporated when I looked at my calendar and realized that I was being dispatched to New York on the one weekend in forty years my mother would be there, for her sixty fifth birthday.

There are moments when you realize you've been conscripted into something much bigger than your own agenda. I seem to be having a lot of them.

Got a favorite show, cupcake shop, funky neighborhood, or dead poet in NYC to recommend? Do tell—there's a birthday party to plan!



Blogger Geoff Meeker said...

What a wonderful coincidence. You're going to get a tour of New York that will enrich and live forever in the family lore.

Has your mother ever considered writing a memoir?

5:45 AM  
Blogger Test E said...

Hi Kyran,

If pubs are involved, you and your mom need to pop in this one. I found this after reading about it in another of my favorite blogs by Benjamin Wagner's . He's multi-focused MTV executive who's also a musician and is currently working on a documentary on Fred Rogers (Mr Rogers). Great guy! Anyway, after reading about the Dead Poet Bar in his blog more than a few times, I stopped by the last time I was in the city and it was a great place to rest and savor a "swift half." Have a great time on your trip. Sometimes the universe gives us exactly what we want.

The Dead Poet
Critics' Pick

450 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY 10024
nr. 82nd St. See Map
212-595-5670 Send to Phone

Reader Rating: Write a Review
Scene: Bar Food, Billiards, College Bar, Irish/Pub, Notable Beer Selection, Whiskey Bar

Photo by Mary Burke

6:32 AM  
Blogger Amy U. said...

How wonderful for you and your mother! I have wanted to visit New York for years and years. One day I'm just going to hop in the car and go there.


6:40 AM  
Blogger Test E said...

Sorry Kyran...

I forgot to sign my previous post on the Dead Poet bar. I'm Elizabeth in Atlanta...your talented husband did my logo for me. Have a great time and if you have to see Benjamin, (his pic is on his site) say hello for me.

Elizabeth (Atlanta for now, Blisland, UK after May 12)

7:05 AM  
Blogger MetroDad said...

So cool that things worked out for you and your mother. I'm sure the weekend will be spent creating memories that last a lifetime.

As a resident New Yorker, here are a few suggestions:

Favorite show? Take her to see an old-school jazz show at the Blue Note or Birdland.

Best cupcake shop? Magnolia Bakery.

Funky neighborhood? Go to the east village (for the beatnik tour) and then head down to the lower east side. Both neighborhoods are changing (i.e. gentrifying) quickly. Check out the pickle shop and the candy store.

Favorite dead poet in New York? I'd have to go with Ogden Nash.

9:56 AM  
Blogger Kyran said...

that's two votes for Magnolia cupcakes so far!

I am extremely excited about the pickle shop.

It looks like Mom and I are staying in Chelsea on Saturday, then I go to friends in Brooklyn Sunday before moving to midtown on Monday.

Keep those suggestions coming.

(Hi Elizabeth! It's great to hear from you! Anyone who recognizes my husband's brilliance wins a special page in my good books!)

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't wait to read a post about the day you and your mother will have in New York together. What kismet!

11:47 AM  
Blogger Joy! said...

Wooo! How wonderful!!

11:57 AM  
Blogger michelle said...

My Mom and I had a wonderful trip to New York several years ago. You will treasure this forever!

The only suggestion I can give that others haven't already is my Mom and I stumbled across a driving/walking tour AT NIGHT of New York. We would be bused to various 'hot spots' and dropped off with a tour guide and walk around an area for awhile...taking it all in. It included standing on the top of one of the Twin Towers at midnight. Pretty cool stuff.

Have a great time whatever you are able to do!!

12:06 PM  
Blogger janewilk said...

MY vote for cupcake shop goes to The Cupcake Cafe on 40th and 9th. Also I love The Little Pie Company on 43rd between 9th and 10th. Don't miss the rosemary rolls at Amy's Bread at 46th and 9th. Our favorite dinner place was Luxia, on 48th between 8th and 9th. Can you tell I used to live in Hell's Kitchen?? Enjoy!

12:59 PM  
Blogger Belinda said...

I love this post. You have no idea how deeply I believe in this sort of thing, and I really can't read enough of it. I hope you and your mom have a fantastic time. Really live it up, gals.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Cupcakes!!! The absolute best is Buttercup Bake Shop on 2nd between 50th and 51st! Enjoy!

2:19 PM  
Blogger Jonivan said...

39 Grove Street
New York City, NY 10014

Best German Food Ever.


5:21 PM  
Blogger island sweet said...

new york city holds a magic. i went with my mother first in 1965 at the age of 15. last fall i took my daughter and we sprinkled some of my mother's ashes at the places on her favourites list. a full circle. (except i'm sure my daughter will take her daughter.) please give your mum a big hug for

5:31 PM  
Blogger J Pyron said...

I lived in the east village for a summer and I still crave the Indian food at Haveli on 2nd street. So very good! When you leave, they will present you with a gift of a mirror in a plastic pouch on a key chain. The pouch says (or it used to): At Haveli, we think you're beautiful. Here's the website:

Enjoy the city with your mother. What a wonderful experience!

11:24 AM  
Blogger Mocha said...

This is why the Internet rocks my world. People are wonderfully nice and helpful. You go have a fantastic time. Tell me about the German food place.

Take lots of pictures. I want to see your momma. :-)

9:59 PM  
Blogger missx said...

How absolutely wonderful that all this came into being. The stars and planets must all be aligned!
I've never been to New York so I'll have to live vicariously through you and your Mum! Hope you both have a wonderful time!

10:51 PM  
Blogger HRH said...

Good things happen.

9:17 PM  
Blogger Mrs. G. said...

Serendipity, fate, divine intervention? Who cares. Enjoy your trip with your mom.

1:19 AM  

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