I just returned from visiting my daughter. She is a student at NYU and this is her spring break week. She invited me a while back, asking if we could stay in Brooklyn. She wanted to get away from her usual area and explore / relax a bit. I agreed it was a good idea, as I felt I needed some time to explore a new place and relax as well. So we met up.
I won’t go into all the details as to what we did. Because that’s the mundane perhaps. We enjoy what others might not. But I will say what I’ve learned. Not just on this trip but regarding travel in general. Like life, travel is about the experience. Observing and taking note. Even if one finds oneself on some obscure street in Brooklyn. There is life to be lived and adventure to be had. We ate at the second pizza place, which is a story. A story which only my daughter and I can fully engage in, but as an experience shared, it’s of note. An Uber ride in a Dodge Charger. Wondering what it’s like to live in the neighborhood we zoom through. Wondering if my daughter knows the raspberry beret reference on the radio. People who speak Polish. Neighborhood signs in Polish. I am uncertain if I’ve ever in my life heard anyone speak Polish until then but yet. Cash only. So many places in NYC are cash only and it fascinates me because I can go to the Night Market on my own Kentucky street and pay for a donut with a credit card yet…cash only in Brooklyn. Cash only in Manhattan. So interesting to me.
Art. The girls I work with remind me I’ve promised an art museum visit and I wish so badly they could visit the one I did on Sunday. Highest price paid for an American artist’s painting. I don’t care your opinion. If art is worth millions or just thousands or anything at all. It’s significant and the stories. The children drawing away having no clue how beautiful it is. To me. That once upon a time a boy painted a picture and he grew up to be…yet cut short.
A bookstore. Brunch with my daughter’s friend who is from my favorite city. Or is NYC my favorite city now? I am unsure. Or the town in which I currently dwell because of the significance. The people I care for.
A woman crying in my daughter’s coffee shop. Hers in the sense she frequents it and I am reminded there are so many issues. Problems. Mountains to climb regarding what we discuss. Guns and violence and kids. I update her on our schools. My fears. Not because I am personally afraid for my well being. But because I am afraid for his and his and hers. What if? And she understands and I ask her questions. That evening she asks me and I am forced to reckon with the same questions. Hounding me over and over and I know the truth but yet I have no idea what to do with it. Not as in my daughter hounding. But reality.
Visiting NYC is different than going to a sunny beach. Obviously. And I am curious as to why we choose the different. Which equals the more difficult. The places where answers are demanded. Instead of the easy going vacation under palm trees. Although NYC has palm trees if you can find them.
The return is not so simple. Literally it’s a planes, trains and automobiles type journey. Yet. It’s not simple in that I come back to my life. My regular life and snow on the ground. I am ready for spring. Pass a boutique on the way to grocery shopping which features spring dresses in the window display and I wish for them. Mainly a reason to wear them. Or at least one of them. A wish for something I could have. As in I could march into the store and purchase. If I so chose. Probably not my wisest move as I have an idea of the price and it is more. Let’s just say more than those in my line of living can afford to spend on a dress. But it’s the freedom in knowing. I could despite the many reasons not. Which now that I consider it is an interesting thought. What do I choose? Right this very minute? Tomorrow morning and tomorrow evening and tomorrow night? The different scenarios and options. Words spoken and so much more. The choice to never actually return or to visit as often as I like. Speaking metaphorically, of course.
My daughter has asked me why I choose the struggle. And I try to kindly point out she has chosen it as well. Or maybe the struggle chooses us. I’m not sure. Today the reminders were more brilliant. As in clearer. Hopes forgone. It is nearly impossible to reconcile. Actually it is impossible. It cannot be done. Joy though in the turmoil. In the heartache. In the questions. Happiness in a moment. A recollection. A reminder we care. And that’s partly why we feel as we do.
I have learned to cherish moments. Or strings of moments threaded together. Meals eaten and music. An unexpected afternoon and the privilege of being an adult who is actually trusted. Looking out over a skyline knowing never once did I imagine this as reality. How we got here. How we’ll get to the next place. Beauty sometimes just happens. Naturally. And at times it’s the product of sweat and tears.