Earlier this summer, I was fortunate enough to be chosen to attend a Girl Scout "Destination" program to New York City. "Destinations" is a worldwide program that encourages girls to travel abroad and experience new things that they might not have had the opportunities to otherwise. In November of 2011 I applied and was selected for one of 22 spots out of about 60 girls. It was an amazing experience and one that has convinced me that New York City is where I belong.
On our very first day in the Big Apple, I was astounded. Being from Boise, Idaho I hadn't had much exposure to "big cities." Sure, my family had been to San Francisco, Seattle and likewise but in retrospect, all of those cities pale in comparison to New York. Our group arrived early to our dinner reservation, so we decided to walk to Central Park. It was a humid day with the temperature upwards of 90 degrees and the last thing any of us wanted to do was go for a walk, but with the chaperones' persuasion we acquiesced. Donning my knock-off Ray Bans, I moved with the group as we were herded down the street.
Upon entering the park, I wasn't impressed. The grass had withered to an ugly brown from the summer heat and dirty food vendors lined the sidewalk. To top it all off, an open sewer grate nearby filled the air with an unpleasant odor. Our lead chaperone announced we were going to visit Strawberry Fields, the John Lennon memorial, after studying a faded map posted along the path, saying it was the closest area. Grudgingly, we trudged on, appeased by the suggestion of benches and shady trees.
A short walk later, our group entered a crowded, beautifully landscaped area filled with the sound of street performers. These musicians weren't your average street performers, however. They all were paying homage to John Lennon in their own way, by playing his music. Having not lived under a rock for quite some time, I instantly recognized an interestingly acoustic and somehow Latin sounding "Yesterday" and quietly began humming along. As I moved through the throng of people, I noticed many others doing the same and suddenly felt quite at home amongst the crowd. Glancing around, I noticed a father and son playing Frisbee with their terrier and a couple having a picnic beneath a large oak complete with a basket and checkered blanket. The whole experience seemed surreal, like I was in a movie. With the perfect setting and even the music in the air, I knew that I belonged here. Here with the conversations sounding in uncountable languages. Here among the thousands upon millions of nameless faces. Here, despite the heat and humidity, was where I was going to live someday.
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