I watched the Manhattan skyline slowly appear in view from my train window last Saturday morning, after an hour of staring out the window at houses and neighborhoods. I pretended that I was a lady traveler from a bygone area, when the locomotive and railroad were America’s crowning achievements of infrastructure. Oh, I wish I could have been alive in the early 20th century! As I sat alone in the quiet car, I couldn’t believe that just 24 hours prior, I was in the midst of a mommy nightmare, home alone with two small children and every kind of bodily fluid and mess to clean up before my dear friend Shawna would be arriving for a visit. Now, here I was, traveling by train to New York City in a shady hat and big sunglasses. You’d never know I was actually a mom of two from the suburbs of Philadelphia.
Her cab dropped her off on the corner of 8th Avenue and 36th Street, not far from Penn Station. She had some flight issues and ended up getting rerouted. She ended up flying into La Guardia and meeting up with me.
We were on a time crunch. We suddenly became like real New Yorkers that moment. We ordered and ate a $20 burger on the go (the best I have ever had in my life) and basically ran to the Imperial Theatre on Broadway in order to make it to the 2:00 show for Les Miserables.
New York is fast-paced, and people are kind of pushy and impatient, but I’ll tell you: New York City is nothing if not efficient. If you see a line out the door, just get in queue and wait a bit. You’ll be at the front before you know it. Pay attention, though. Otherwise you will get yelled at.
And let me tell you, Les Miserables was lovely. I can’t remember the last time I cried so much. How actors can sing a certain note or hit a decibel level that forces tears out of your eyes, I’ll never understand it. The level of talent is unbelievable. Of course, Shawna, who studied French Lit, pointed out that there were some differences in the musical that were not in the book. As a former high school slacker, I failed to read it. The themes were conveyed to me, though. Jean Valjean and Javert. Mercy and Justice. It was really, really wonderful. I can’t say that enough.
We ended the day by walking around Central Park and Midtown, seeing all the sites, and having real heart-to-heart conversations that only confirmed that Shawna is a true bosom friend; a kindred spirit. The Diana to my Anne. Or, the Anne to my Diana, if you go off of hair color. Although, I am definitely the crazy one, and might possibly smash a slate over Gilbert Blythe’s head, given the chance.
It is just funny how life turns out. A few years ago, I lived in Utah, and we were pretty poor. I used to dream of what it would be like to just go and visit New York City. I wondered if it would ever be possible.
“Someday, we will go,” my friend Shawna would tell me. On New Year’s Eve that year, she and her husband and daughter came over for a cheese plate and fake champagne. We watched the ball drop at Times Square on a live video and ended the night at midnight Eastern time, which, for us, was 10 o’clock Mountain time. We knew our toddlers wouldn’t make it to midnight. Besides, New York City was where we really wanted to be.
It is funny how life works out. It really makes me believe that there is a God, and that his timing is perfect. He can even answer prayers for you and give you something far better than you ever could have imagined. The only catch is that you will have to accept that there will be ups and downs. You can’t always be up. And you won’t always be down, either.
By sheer happenstance, we moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia. Now, I go to Philadelphia and New York City on a semi-regular basis. These fancy East Coast places, once myths, are now within reach. I don’t even need to live in the actual city. I am fine with being a tourist. Living where I live allows me to have my cake and eat it, too.
I came here with ambivalence, knowing full well my desire for adventure and my tendency to become homesick. Yet, I have never been homesick once since I have lived here.
I think that means I’m home.