It was November. Where I lived, the trees were letting their last fallow-gold leaves fall softly to the ground and the world was growing quiet after the excitement of summer.
Winter was coming. My week had been quite uneventful, but while the world was settling in my area for some rest, I was finishing the touches on a trip I had been planning for three weeks.
It was the first time that I had traveled in quite some time. The excitement rose as I repeated the words on my tongue once more — I’m going to New York City.
A refreshingly chill breeze picked up. My plane flew in late at night. As it pulled up to the gate entrance, excitement rose to its height. I exited the plane and began walking to the front entrance of the airport. I reached the doors and looked up and down the lanes, but I could not see anybody. Suddenly, I was struck with a bit of fear.
I was alone in an unfamiliar airport! I was unaccustomed to traveling in large cities by myself. Quickly my fear went away, as I saw the figure of my dearest cousin. We greeted happily, and made our way for the exit.
A rush of sensations hit my face as the automatic doors closed behind us. Lights, traffic and the rushing of bodies as they hurriedly raced for the bus on the corner. The visual fullness of it all was thumping on my head, but I was not able to contemplate my surroundings, for suddenly my cousin was running across the wide pavement toward a van that awaited us.
As I opened the door, a friendly face greeted me. He was a friend I had met a few months before in my own state. ‘Hey man! Ready? Got all your stuff? Great!’ With that, the door shut and the movement began.
I could hardly believe it. I was here. As we left LaGuardia Airport, the tall towers of Manhattan loomed on the horizon. It was only beginning. Day after day passed and all of them were long as life ages. They had fullness that was not usual for a small town kid like me. We would walk to train stations, then ride the distance to our destination, weave our way through the hustle and bustle of stations like Columbus Circle or Grand Central. Then the walking would ensue again.
You see in New York, people walk. And I mean walk. We did spend a lot of time doing things, but whenever there was a bit of rest, we would just watch New York. It is like a creature, full of movement that never ceases, even into the deepest part of night. Of course this is marvelous because there is never a time when you can’t get up and do something.
The clock on the wall of the tiny apartment struck 2:30 a.m. At home I usually went to bed a decent hour, but while I was in New York, I went to bed late every night and tonight was no exception. A smile spread across my face. After all, I had accomplished one of the biggest reasons I had come to New York.
Earlier that night (when it had still been p.m.) I had attended an annual meeting that the University of Oxford holds each year in New York. Arriving early at the Oxford University Press building, I sat down and waited for it to begin. The chairs were soft, and it was looking like few people would be coming. A few moments later, four Oxford representatives came in. They started the presentation right away, and their British accents were a delightful treat. They spoke of Oxford, the colleges and the English country side.
I was in love. I had been studying Oxford for months, and now I was hearing about it from people who lived there! When it was over I went to the exit and peeked outside. Still raining. The lights from across the street were blurred from the pour. I looked around for my cousin who was to meet me. He came up, and we walked away down the umbrella filled street.
It was the morning of my return. I had seen and done so much. My family dropped me off with hugging and farewells. I quickly lugged my suitcase from the back and said one last goodbye. I watched their car drive away, and I felt a bit sad. At the gate, I could see the plane through the glass and the many people who were waiting to board.
Sitting down, I went over everything that had happened. I began to realize the major change that had taken place in me. Already I could feel a new sense of independence surging through me. From the long walks by myself in strange neighborhoods to the crowds of Chinatown, a transformation had occurred. I was becoming a new person. I was finding myself as an active, aware adult.
The amazing experience and the vigorousness of the people had enlivened me. I couldn’t wait to start my own life as a self-sufficient young man. A shiver ran down my spine. A voice rang out on the speaker for the passengers to board. I was ready.
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