I worried about returning to New York City. Even from our first days after returning home in 2014, I remember saying to Chad, what if it will never feel that way again? What if it loses it’s allure? What if NYC will never be as special as it was the first time? Our first trip was everything we’d hoped for and I was uncertain that I would be able to feel it like I did that first time. In reality, even the bad events of our last visit only added to the beauty of a city that I fell in love with the second my feet hit its streets.
I will forever remember our first night in the City nearly two years ago. I remember the cold rain that poured through the cheaply made, but grossly over-priced umbrella we’d purchased from an overly-excited street vendor. I remember emerging from our hotel and walking through the dark, crowded streets while tiny droplets of rain raced from the edge of our weak umbrella toward our faces. I remember wiping the escaped rain droplets from my forehead as my heart raced with excitement with each step we took. Just like it was yesterday, I remember the way the darkness abruptly switched to light, as if sunlight had broken through clouds, as the darkened streets became the bright lights and hustle and bustle of Times Square.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the way it felt to see Times Square for the very first time. I remember walking up to the little red tables and watching the droplets of water drip down the table leg and onto the ground. I remember seeing Spider Man and Bat Man and guys with fliers coaxing onlookers into comedy shows. I saw police officers minding the crowds while just over their shoulders taxis passed by carrying people from point A to point B.
Certainly, I idealized each and every scenario on that first day in NYC two year ago, but that is how I will forever remember it. Perfect. How could a re-visit ever compete? Could it?
Last week I attended an intensive workshop in Connecticut with a small group of wedding photographers. (I plan to write more on this later.) Certainly, most would consider a trip to NYC in February a less than intelligent decision. At least, a ridiculous decision for two people who really just want to walk the streets and experience the atmosphere. However, we were so close to the City, how could we not go? During the days leading up to the trip, we watched the news and couched in between Trump, Sanders, Hillary and Rubio there was a lot of buzz about the coldest temperatures in decades expected in NYC.
(Have I ever mentioned that I have an acute cold sensitivity? Like, my lips turn purple, I shake like Beyonce (though not quite as cool), and I lose most all feeling in my fingers and toes that somehow turn a gluey white color.)
Seriously, only Chad and I would plan a trip during the coldest days in decades. In truth, Chad attempted to change our flight so we could skip NYC, but we would have had to sell one of the kids to pay for it and we couldn’t agree on which one, so we decided to give it our best. We loaded up on hand warmers, foot warmers, extra layers, and anything we could think of and hoped that NYC would not become the place to which we would never return again.
After dropping our rental car off at LaGuardia, Chad and I narrowly survived took a car ride into the city to our hotel. We threw our bags into our room and ventured out into the streets.
My heart pounded with nervousness this time wondering if I would be able to stand the cold for more than 5 minute segments. As we made our way onto the street, we walked down the block and noticed a cab stop in the middle of the road right beside me. I assumed he was waiting to pick someone up, so I didn’t pay much attention until I saw the driver emerge from his bright yellow cab and motion a “hold up” sign to the cars behind him. As Chad and I walked on, my gaze followed the driver as he slowly walked to the front of his car and gently reached down to pick up an injured pigeon that was stranded in the middle of the road. I watched as the gentleman carefully scooped up the ailing bird and carried it to the sidewalk. I looked at Chad and saw that he had also taken in the scene.
I love it here, I told him.
For three days, Chad and I made our way up and down the streets of NYC, taking in the sights and sounds. Hand warmers and layers and layers of clothes did the job of sunshine and warm temperatures, as we took in a world so different than our own. That thing they say about A New York State of Mind? It’s real. . . New Yorkers seemed un-phased by the bitterly cold temperatures.
We walked up and down the avenues and watched the numbers on the signs ascend and descend. . . 4th. ave, 5th Ave., 6th Ave. . . . on and on and on. With each passing step I heard snippets of conversations of passerby’s. . . getting hearing aids next week. . . I called and they can marry us this weekend at 3:15. . . need to go to the store to buy. . . need to find a new job. . . burr it’s cold. . . why did I wear this today. . .
With each step, the scene changed, guys walking with heads down and hands in pockets, women walking with ear buds stuffed in their ears, drowning out the sounds, smiling faces that make eye contact, heads down avoiding eye contact, dog owners walking dogs on leashes, parents walking children on leashes. Every now and then we have the chance to dance with someone in an attempt to sidestep on the sidewalk–most smile and apologize and walk on.
We took in some typical sites and only a few times was I able to pull my hands out of my pockets to capture a quick picture. Of course, Central Park. . .
Despite the cold, we didn’t hesitate to meander our way around the benches to take in the stories that I love so much. . .
Building that seem to go on forever, a stark difference to the red and white barns that we pass by each day. . .
The landmarks that stand on their own. . .
Speechless art mixes with loud commotion. . .
Everyday life for some is mixed in with the awe and wonder of many others. . .
|I really wanted to bring that middle pup home for Taza.|
Perhaps the latter is true. Perhaps I overthink the sights and the sounds and the people. But for me, NYC lends itself to dreaming. Walking the streets and taking the the stark contrasts of rich and poor and young and old. Seeing the mundane mixed with the remarkable draws me in in such a way that few things do. In New York, I’m reminded that anything is possible–not just in NYC, but anywhere. I am reminded that dreaming matters and talking about dreaming matters. As I watched countless people march up and down the streets of the city I was reminded that so much of where we are in life is really based upon the choices we make. I found power in that. I find freedom in that. And every now and then, while staring up at a big building or while watching street performers do their thing, my own questions of what if crept in. . .
What if we’d gone this way instead of that one?
As soon as they are there, the what if’s disappear. It doesn’t take long for me to be reminded. . .