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 tellthere's a birthday party to plan!
Labels: friends and occasions