My 12 New Things

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Thing #10- September 2010- I Heart NY

For my September New Thing I visited New York City, somewhere I'd always wanted to visit, but never had the opportunity.

A couple months ago, a good friend of mine relocated to New Jersey, to join her husband who is in his surgical residency. I just happened to have accumulated a free Southwest airline ticket and decided I should count the trip as my upcoming 30th birthday present to myself. (But, who am I fooling? I'm still hoping for a Kindle).

The trip was amazing. Being from the Midwest, every now and then I forget that there is a real world out there. I know that makes me sound like a complete country bumpkin, which I'm really not. I've traveled a little bit, and though not to too many big cities, I have been to Washington, D.C. five or six times. But, nothing prepared me for New York City. My friend Liz and I spent four and a half days exploring Manhattan. I spent the first few hours on my first day just trying to get over my culture shock. My stream of consciousness was, "This is so different than what I'm used to. This is just so different. This is really different." By the second day, I'd caught my stride (a little bit) and soaked it all in. I learned to walk with purpose and look through people instead of at them. That was half the battle.

I felt like just being in a city where actual world relevant things happened on a daily basis blew my perspective wide open. I felt like at any moment J. Lo could walk by, or that Bethenny Frankel could be strolling in the same park, or that I might even see Taylor Swift on the subway. (Or... you know, I could see Rudy Guiliani, Mayor Bloomberg or some foreign dignitary. Whatever floats your boat).

Just being there made me feel relevant to the world.

A sign posted near the site of the
proposed Muslim community center
My trip happened to fall on the ninth anniversary of September 11 and in the midst of the Muslim community center controversy. It was also Fashion Week, the Mets and Giants were both playing, and the U.S. Open was also going on. Not that I attended all of those things, but it blew my mind that all of these big, culturally and world-relevant things were going on around me. You know what happens in Kansas on any given weekend? Not much. My friend's husband (and a fellow Kansas native) mused to me, "If a bomb goes off in Kansas, the world would go on and probably won't even notice. If a bomb goes off in NYC, it affects the rest of the world." (I'm paraphrasing here. Forgive me if I misquoted that, Ben). 

Speaking of culturally relevant, while in New York, I visited the John Lennon memorial in Central Park, Strawberry Fields. Unless you've been under a rock or held hostage the past few days, you that know that what would have been his 70th birthday celebration took place this last weekend. 

Tribute to John Lennon in Central Park
John Lennon was shot and killed 10 days before I was born and prior to visiting Central Park, I hadn't really paid much attention to him. I didn't really grow up listening to his music, but I've always known who he was, that he was somewhat controversial in his "later" years, but most of all, I knew he was enormously talented in a number of different ways.

I've always wanted to be enormously talented. It's the figuring out what I should be enormously talented in that's been the conundrum. I have always wished that I'd been a precocious child that freakishly knew how to play the violin or do trigonometry as a toddler. No such luck. (I'm not sure how mad trig skills would help me, but surely they would).

Every now and then I sigh with emotion resembling teen angst and lament that I hadn't been born with an innate ability to do something... anything. My younger brother is an effortlessly amazing artist. The images just leap off of his pencil and on to paper and he gives them just as little thought- not really appreciating the gift he has. My older brother is effortlessly brilliant at anything technologically or mechanically oriented. He gets frustrated with us mere mortals who don't really get it.

Regardless of whatever talent I'll one day figure out that I've possessed all along- I've always wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. That is probably my one true passion and the one thing that has always been consistent in my life and what has inspired my current interest in John Lennon. Love, hate, or be indifferent of John Lennon- he was definitely a part of something bigger than himself. And he knew how to work his talent.

My trip to NY reminded me how badly I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. Just being there made me think I could do it. I just don't know what yet. I don't want to be boxed in to Midwest suburbia running car pools. (Though I don't currently do that nor do I really even know what that means, the thought of it makes me ill).

I'm not sure why my next step is in the whole "being a part of something bigger than myself" project, but NYC has inspired me to explore it!

Just for fun, here are some highlights of my trip:

8 Average miles walked per day

7 Bus trips between Manhattan and New Jersey in 4 days

6 Items I bought on 5th Avenue at H&M, just so I could say I got them on 5th Avenue

5 Famous paintings I recognized at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 5 minutes we had before we were herded out, having arrived near closing time

4 Celebrities who were spotted at Bergdorf Goodman right after we left that area (Nicole Richie, Mary J. Blige, Victoria Beckham and J. Lo)

3 Blisters I sustained from the average 8 miles/ day walking

Eating excursions in Little Italy

1 Accidental trip to Brooklyn on the wrong subway line

...and can't wait to see what happens next!

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