I’ve been back from New York for several days now, and the abject disparity between the two places still finds me reeling.
Just like I described last year, this trip is like living someone else’s life, and in doing so I always gain a greater perspective on who I am, who I am not and who I would like to be, not necessarily in that order.
As I land in La Guardia, I always feel so small and anonymous while at the same time feeling a part of some important, whirling world. It is sort of like stepping off the quiet sidewalk of my life into rushing traffic of people, sounds and smells so unfamiliar, yet so intoxicating.
My own life has its “busy-ness,” to be certain, but it is filled with a frenzy of food prep, hunting backpacks, calming the screaming, wiping noses, measuring supplements, juggling therapy schedules and shuttling van-loads of children back and forth between sporting activities and social skills groups.
In contrast, my week in New York is spent trying to hold down frighteningly rich lobster bisque in a rocketing taxicab after drinking one two many glasses of exceptionally nice cabernet.
And learning not to order giant prawns.
It is also spent attempting to tape large vinyl signs to concrete block, loading trade show furniture into a panel van and driving that from NJ to Manhattan, and trying to assemble said furniture without directions or proper tools.
This is my friend riding in the back of the van with multiple boxes.
Yes, we got stopped by New York’s finest, and yes we cried but got out of the ticket, miraculously. Sadly, I have no photographs if that event but you can use your imagination, I’m sure.
Don’t you love how we employed the broom to mash down the double-sided tape?
The fun part of the week is spent chatting with stationery store owners, explaining trends in bridal and baby invitations, and encouraging buyers to try my friend’s line.
This was my fourth year to take this trip, and I have achieved a few minor milestones. I no longer feel self-conscious hailing a cab, and I have perfected the proper, casual way to hold my hand while doing so.
I am no longer driven to don heels as I walk around the city in a vain attempt at disguising myself as a tourist.
I finally realized that most of the people wearing heels with jeans as they traipse about the city were the tourists. Everyone else enjoys sensible flats, boots or flip flops.
I can walk purposefully down a busy sidewalk while clutching a Starbucks and talking on my phone.
I never make eye contact with anyone. Never take a flier about an upcoming band or play performance from anyone, and never, ever acknowledge someone who furtively approaches with the promise of “Purses, Dolce, Rolex, Cartier, you buy!”
I still can’t stop myself, however, from lunging out toward the tiny toddlers running along the sidewalk parallel to whizzing taxis and buses. I suppose these children grow up with this second sense of permanently remaining on the sidewalk no matter what, but if I ever took my three to this city, I’d have to strap them all to my body to keep them alive–especially Edward.
While I’m in New York I see myself as a sort of a lone catcher in the rye.
This was particularly hard for me this year because our apartment was located right next to Bleecker park!
The tiniest of tots would whiz by on their scooters or even tricycles and then abruptly stop right before the cross walk, their parents leisurely strolling several feet behind, often pushing a smart perambulator stuffed with an even tinier sibling.
Yet today, back in the South, as the screams and shrill whines of three walkie talkies in unison fill my brain and I watch dripping children streak about the house clutching over-filled water balloons and tracking up my once-clean floors, I am thankful to be home.