Monday, September 27, 2010

NYC - Part 1, Written Earlier, Posted Now

My family and I are on the trip of a lifetime. New York City and Washington D.C. in a two-week vacation that has felt like a dream so far. The three flights were fairly well tolerated by all... though we went through almost an entire packet of tic-tacs trying to keep Mia in a good mood and she was in puddle stage when we finally hit our place in New York about 1 am on Saturday.

I had one of the greatest surprises of my life when about 1:15 am, we heard a knock on our door. I figured we were being too noisy, but when we opened the door, there stood my sister Bethy and her boyfriend Simon! I could not believe my eyes. I haven't seen either of my sisters in about three years prior to this trip, and I have never met Simon so it was awesome. Mia quickly warmed up and sat and read books with her aunt while Jason and I quickly went to the roof of our building from which we could see the skyline and the empire state building. The contrast of the humidity and hot weather to the 20 degrees or so we left in Fairbanks was astonishing. We spent another hour or so catching up with Simon and Bethy before we all straggled off to bed around two in the morning.

The great thing about traveling somewhere so different is the sights and sounds surround and overwhelm you at first until you feel different in your own skin. I did actually pinch myself and no it did not hurt, so as you can see it's very hard to distinguish this from dreaming. As I write this tonight I can see the glow of the city street lights through the curtains, there's jazz music playing in our room and the occasional sound of late-night traffic has become soothing. I never envisioned this place being so comfortable and cozy but it really is. Thousands of tiny shops line the streets, strange and inviting aromas and lots of people, every one a new face that tells a different story. A person could spend a lifetime people-watching here; it is endlessly entertaining. Peeking across the street earlier I saw signs of the inhabitants of the building there... a red brick exterior with small pods of light making a design on the front, inside there are people with lives drinking tea, enjoying a small lit candle, one is watching a huge television and one has so many books in a huge white wall they must be reading an old favorite tonight. There are pretty women everywhere, especially late at night, it's like an artistic exhibition, different shoes, different color dresses, some are bold and walk in front of taxis; some wait, laughing - embarrassed in the shadows with their friends. Loud conversations, odd pieces of stories ("Tell your Daddy how you got bangs"... "She cut her own bangs!"), so much to think about I can feel my face morphing into the city expression and now I know it's a self-protection mechanism. If you let the crowds and sights and sounds carry you who knows where your mind will go. You must shut down some input sometimes if you wish to think your own thoughts. The best way I know to tell you about it is that, to me, some places aren't places. They're feelings. New York City is a feeling.

The food has carried my emotions to different places, too. And helped me remember different thoughts and experiences. The first morning was heaven with Jason, Mia and I going across the street to Cafe Habana which was amazing. It was breakfast with a Cuban flair. The roasted corn with Parmesan and chili powder, the black beans, the perfectly bitter cappuccino, and omelets were wonderful. Citizen Cope was blaring as we went in and were served by our waitress, a young black woman who looked as if her other job could be modeling. She was great with Mia and friendly. She taught Mia how to make a flower and brought her a pen and notebook to scribble in. Mia did something to the table behind us and I still don't know what... they all started laughing and she turned around with a satisfied smirk on her face, I guess we'll never know. The food carried us to Costa Rica with the flavors and vibe, eighty degrees and only a fan to cool the place helped. I think that memory of glee and excitement, our happiness and all the possibilities to come on our first morning in New York, will stay with me forever.

Our day only got better as we welcomed my sister Mary and her boyfriend Ryan later that afternoon and got to walk all together to the Whole Foods (right down the street, of course - Alaskans you know why this is cool..). Ryan whipped up some amazing homemade chicken enchiladas that night that were delicious. Finally we got to bed and the adventure was only beginning.


  1. You are such a writer! Sheila, I felt like I just visited NY with you. I am dreaming of my next vacation!

  2. I agree - you took me there. Sounds so awesome! Thanks for sharing with us!