While preparing for college, my parents agreed to take me on one trip to the East Coast to visit any school. I, of course, chose a college situated in the most adventurous place in the world, New York City. We elected to drive the twelve hours in two separate days, as my mother had recently been hospitalized for a week due to a case of encephalitis that almost killed her. The journey was tedious and grueling, but we made it all in one piece, or so we thought. Whether it was due to the jostling of the car, the unfamiliar places, or something we couldn’t control, a part of my mother got lost along the way. Physically she was fine, but mentally she reverted back to the wretched state she was in during her hospitalization. My father and I hoped her condition would ameliorate itself and persevered on.
We stayed at a small hotel on the outskirts of NYC near La Guardia Airport for monetary reasons; it wasn’t until later we grasped how detrimental the half hour bus ride was to my mother. We planned to do everything in just four short days, truly exploring New York like she deserved; we booked a charming little double-decker bus tour; we played catch in refreshing Central Park; we haggled with perpetually perturbed street vendors in Chinatown; we even bought expensive tickets to a Broadway show. The assortment of people, things, and cultures was simply awe-inspiring. I took great joy in the bright lights, the hustle and bustle, and even in walking across a street along with hoards of other people before the light says, “Walk”. During our boat tour, the boat was encircled by kayakers. Just the thought that there are enough people with the fairly uncommon passion for kayaking to barricade a boat for over an hour astonishes me. I was in ecstasy, brimming with life.
My mother’s life, however, only deteriorated. The night of the show, she was so sick she didn’t recognize me and refused to attend the show. We took the absence of my mother and turned it into a one-of-a-kind experience: selling her ticket outside the theatre to one of those shady looking guys. It was exhilarating to barter with this stranger while wealthy out-of-towners hid their children as they scurried past.
The trip as a whole was incredible on so many levels. New York for me, as for many others, represents elation as well as tragedy. Sadly, when many people think of NYC, they think of the Twin Towers and the 2,604 unsuspecting victims they housed. When I think of NYC, I think of staring out from the top of the Empire State Building and watching the millions of people down below. I also think of my mother stumbling on uneven sidewalks, completely perplexed. New York city holds endless opportunities, but for me, New York’s importance comes not from its immigrants or businessmen, its subway or its high rises, for me, New York’s importance comes from revealing to me that my mother will forever be sick. At home, she fights her own battles, but by travelling to such an active and foreign city, her ability to fight back was destroyed. One day, here at home, she will lose the battle again. I needed New York City to show me that so I could be ready. The trip of my life showed me more than just historic places and tourist attractions; the trip of my life showed me I needed to fight to save my mommy’s life.
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