July 4, 2014, and New York seemed to go hand in hand.
My family and I arrived in New York to be kissed by light rain and embraced by dim sunshine. Our disgruntled taxi cab driver could have cared less about the weather, but to have such a gentle greeting from New York skies seemed a harbinger for the rest of the trip. All too soon, the highway and the green fluttered by and the next time I took a good look at New York, it was in the midst of people.
But it felt like a home as I shuffled past bodies in an attempt to get a good look at Time Square. Yah?m? ?’?. Regardez ce. Ir Brasil! The voices chant diversity. Metal flashes everywhere I turn…cameras, phones, skyscrapers. The constant? Smiles. The people around me hand out smiles like business cards, everywhere from “selfies” to the people dressed as Lady Liberty. Even in the early afternoon, the city pulses with vibrancy. Light emanates from billboards and taxis paint the streets. All these anonymous people and I form a family, albeit dysfunctional, right in the middle of Time Square in our search to escape, to absorb, and to live. I resist the urge to grab someone, look into foreign eyes, and say, “Isn’t it amazing? We’re here together and even though I don’t know you, and you don’t me, and our cultures are probably so incredibly different, our lives have intersected in this one spot.”
Though we ended our night watching fireworks on TV in our hotel room, it still felt more intimate because I was actually in the state. As far as first impressions went, New York was everything I imagined. So for the next few days, we tried to cover as many “touristy” spots as possible, as if to confirm everything else with our own eyes.
The Rockefeller Center briefly entertained us. Lively? Didn’t expect less.
We went to the 86th floor of the Empire State Building to find ourselves around a different crowd of people which exuded the same vibes as we experienced the day prior. Concrete jungle? Confirmed.
Then came Broadway, where we saw Pippin and finally understood all the hype. Explosive? Of course.
The 9/11 Memorial chilled me. To be honest, I expected more gravity to permeate the atmosphere, so I was surprised to find people bustling about. Just goes to show how quickly humans can bounce back from tragedy and resist the weight of the past, while respecting all that was left behind. That’s New York for you- equal parts thoughtful and frenetic.
And Central Park…as lovely as depicted in movies? Perhaps lovelier in the flesh.
I looked forward to the Metropolitan Museum of Art the most because I read The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in elementary school and dreamed of seeing the places Claudia and James visited. And did I conclude it was an enlightening area where I could spend days admiring its entirety and still have more to learn? Oh yes.
Then, to tie up the entire trip, we took a tour around New York using Big Bus Tours. The tour guides were knowledgeable and entertaining, but what stuck with me most was my final glimpse of New York from charming areas such as Chelsea to the New York skyline as we crossed from Manhattan to Brooklyn, and then from Brooklyn to Manhattan.
There are some places where even after you seem to see everything, a voice tells you that there’s likely more to be discovered, more to be uncovered. New York is one of them.
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