I was over the moon to be in New York City last week with my daughter! We have never taken a trip, just the two of us, so it was super special. We had no real itinerary either, other than having secured tickets to two Broadway shows, which made it even better. We were pretty much free to explore during the day until it was time to head to the theater in the evening. Oh…and we wanted to eat good food. Perfect!
Our hotel was stunning. From our room on the 47th floor, we had a gallery view of the city, panning east from New Jersey and across the Hudson into the Upper West Side then all the way over Central Park into the Upper East. The hotel restaurant overlooked Columbus Circle and straight down 59th Street.
We got to explore three floors of the New York Public Library, as well as an exhibit full of eclectic national treasures. In spite of sprinkling rain, we people watched in Times Square before heading to see “Six” on Broadway. We ate gnocchi at whatever Italian place we could find. And we didn’t care that the wind practically blew us through Central Park.
At “MJ: The Musical”, I could close my eyes and feel as though we had Michael Jackson right there with us alive and singing. We took the notion to put on coats one night at 9:30 pm and hop on a train down to 3rd Street for Pomme Frites (Belgian fried potatoes) and crepes with fruit and Nutella. Brady got a few new clothes and a cute, purple plush kitty in a boutique store. The hotel brought us tea, chocolates, and macrons.
I’m just not sure we could have planned a nicer 4 days in New York City. It was just right.
Y’all, there is something about New York that makes you feel small. It’s easy to figure, considering you cross the street with hundreds of people among skyscrapers every time the light changes and the red flashing hand switches to the bright, white WALK go-ahead. You become anonymous, nameless, faceless. Where you come from doesn’t matter. Who you really are doesn’t matter. Where you’re going doesn’t matter.
At the same time, you realize your importance. Without you, the next guy, that lady, him, them, there is no crowd. There are no teachers, no wait staff, no store clerks, no drivers. Everybody brings something to the world, and we are all important, contributing people crossing from corner to corner in a city that not only never sleeps but couldn’t possibly. We are all doing so much, going somewhere, buying something, working, exploring, constantly. All of us create society, share common bonds, lubricate the economy, fight to stay well, take care of our families.
There is BOTH an anonymity AND commonality among people, each and collectively happening at the same time. I forget this at home. I remember this when I travel.
I had many epiphanies last week, actually. I’m not sure I can recall them all right this second, but I can tell you that I feel better. I realized that I matter, what I do matters, and that I am smart. I was clearly, although maybe subconsciously, doubting myself.
I realized that what I do here at home (both my job and raising my family) has tremendous purpose. I let crappy people and life’s challenges squash my spirit for a long time.
I realized how much music and creativity mean to me, as well as how much they have always meant to me. I let the “why” behind what I do get overshadowed by task lists and expectations.
I realized that life – REAL LIFE – needs to be lived more fully. I let schedules, self-imposed deadlines, and pressure from others become the tail that wags this dog way too often.
I teared up at the NY library. I mopped tears in Central Park. I watched the buses whiz around Columbus Circle through a blur. I ate my gnocchi dumbfounded. I sat, mouth agape, at “Six” and ugly cried at “MJ” more than once (ok, like 7 times). I. Need. To. Live. I need to give less than one iota of a damn about what anybody thinks or says. I need to ignore the ridiculous things people say and completely let go of the stupid things they do. I need to love people, all of them, and bring joy through whatever creative, over-the-top, energy-filled nonsensical ways I come up with. I need to make more memories. I need to be who I want to be and do what I want to do. I need to keep creating the life I want with an everyday “hum” I can live with and enjoy.
And I need to go back to New York City more.
In the pictures…Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten Declaration of Independence, the original printed version of the Declaration of Independence, the Gutenberg Bible, the first collected printing of Shakespeare’s plays (the First Folio), Charles Dickens’s reading copy of “David Copperfield”, copy #474 of “Ulysses” that James Joyce himself presented to a friend, Maya Angelou’s handwritten draft of “Why The Caged Bird Sings”, inscribed pointe shoes belonging to Tanaquil Le Clereq who was married to George Balanchine, original cue book from the Broadway production of “West Side Story”, the ceiling of the third floor common area in the New York Public Library