The adventure I alluded to a few weeks ago has now come and gone. I spent 10 days in New York City and it was a significant trip for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, I had been looking forward it for quite some time. Since the diagnosis of my heart condition, we haven’t ventured very far. When I found out that I was going to finally have my surgery, I imagined this trip as something to look forward to at the end of my recovery period,
my carrot that I would be able to enjoy with renewed vigor and health.
Also, New York is the place of our Olivia’s dreams. I couldn’t wait to see it through the eyes of my girl who has always yearned to see the stages of Broadway and feel the captivating energy of this city that oozes such wild and glorious creativity.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater where the kids did a West African dance class
For the first 5 days in New York I had the honor of chaperoning the grade 8 dancers from Olivia’s school. We had the luxury of a big bus and a witty and fantastic guide. Our days with the tour were long and packed full with sightseeing and dance classes.
On the last day of the school tour, Dan and George flew out and met Olivia and I for five more days.
It’s always a bit difficult to talk about trips. Condensing a myriad of adventures into some sort of interesting summary feels challenging and I always wonder how much people actually want to hear. So for my purposes here, I have chosen 3 favorite moments, with some Peace at Home Project style meaning attached. (;
Broadway Dance Workshop:
When Olivia was little, I used to find her in her room making up dramatic musicals about her feelings.
She has never really walked, rather she bops and twirls and grooves. She entertains as much as she talks. Don’t ask me where all of this drama and constant movement comes from because Dan and I can’t figure it out, but a love for the stage seems to be embedded in her cellular makeup.
Waiting to enter the theater for our first Broadway show in NY, ‘Wicked’, it is no exaggeration to say that she was fairly vibrating.
My favorite fine arts moment, though, was when Olivia got to experience a Broadway Dance workshop at the Broadway Dance Center. Her instructor had performed with the cast of the hit musical “Matilda‘ and taught the kids a dance from that show (we were fortunate enough to be able to see Matilda after Dan and George arrived).
At the end of the class, in a very real and candid way, this kind young man spoke to the kids about what it really takes to make it to Broadway. He described his journey, his background, his training, his triumphs and his difficulties. He generously dispensed advice and Olivia held on to every word,
It’s one thing to have your own dreams, and have them materialize or not, or hold deep passions that are mostly suppressed but perhaps occasionally nurtured in opportune moments that find us,
but to see the heart of your child being directly met and spoken to
surpasses anything a parent might ever want for themselves in this life.
This was such a moment.
Anniversary of 9/11
It so happened that the first full day that we were in New York was also the 9/11 anniversary.
Our guide was gifted at bringing home to us the impact that this event has had on the psyche of the city,
and came back to the topic frequently, as it is so intertwined now in the collective identity of New Yorkers.
The teachers felt it would be meaningful for us to enter one of the fire halls and have a moment of silence together, as the fire halls open their doors every Sept. 11 and welcome in people to talk, continue to process, and leave flowers and condolences . Though the kids may not have been able to truly grasp the depth of how the world changed on that day, it felt important to us that we model to the students a showing of respect, as visitors. Some of us chaperones reminisced about being pregnant at the time of the attacks with our now 13 year-olds. We clearly remembered feeling terrified by the prospect of bringing babies into a world where such a horrific thing could happen.
And so we all entered into one of the fire halls, stood in a circle and held hands as we offered our own minute of silence.
Several of us wept while the firefighters watched in deepest gratitude for our gesture of love. This particular fire hall had lost every one of its firefighters. I cannot pretend to begin to understand the complicated feelings of loss and fear, and abiding sorrow that still surround this event,
but I did feel as if for a precious moment we were gifted the profound and beautiful privilege of sharing and holding just a sliver of the grief.
Dancing on the High Line
There is a beautiful park in New York that you must go see if you are ever there. In a city that is masterful at creating green spaces in such a densely populated and urban environment, the High Line is a 1.45-mile-long New York City linear park built on an elevated section of a disused New York Central Railroad.
It is beautiful, full of wildflowers, plants, artwork along the way, plenty of seating, and a section where you can buy food and gelato,
What an innovative and extraordinary way to look at parks and greenspace design. We saw The High Line in its infancy the first time I was in New York, and our tour guide Mitch gave us a quick taste of it on the tour group’s last day, but it is the kind of place that calls you back again and again.
Towards the end of our very best family day in New York (because traveling is not always easy, carefree, and without its cranky times) we found ourselves enjoying walking along the High Line after enjoying tacos from Chelsea Market.
At one point, we stopped and looked down as a wonderful band was playing on the street outside a restaurant below. People had gathered round the musicians and were smiling, singing, moving to the beat.
The music was lively and happy, the city night lights were aglow,
and we stayed on for a good twenty minutes, watching and dancing.
Everything felt twinkly and magical and good.
This moment cost nothing and we weren’t at the top of the Empire State Building or eating a gourmet meal or shopping in a designer store or staring at very old and famous art. All of these things are very nice and have their value,
but I think it’s safe to say that this moment was our very favorite at all.
I wish I had a photo of it, but we were too busy just being happy to take one.
Life’s funny that way.