There’s nothing particularly special about making a trip to New York. We rubes in the hinterlands do it all the time; just watch Good Morning America or whatever and you’ll see us grinning and wooooo-ing all morning long.
But I, of course, am no rube, and I am, after all, me — therefore the trip I took to New York City this summer is special and unique and interesting, unlike any other.
Now that I’m wasting time with my own blog, it seems remiss to not mention this trip in some way because frankly, I never go anywhere. That’s mostly by choice, mainly by circumstance, and 100% the way I want it. I generally like to take family-togetherness type vacations and trips to my husband’s family’s home (which is, more or less, a mountain vacation paradise) punctuated by Big Vacations every few years, just to do my part keeping the economy sound.
Yes. Yes of course.
But really, the trip was exciting and unusual, mainly because I’d never been there before and was perfectly prepared to be as stunned and amazed as only a rube can be when confronted with the cosmopolitan ways of the city.
The thing was, though: I really wasn’t.
It was fun, of course, to drink in the sights that every American child has grown up with: the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, even Times Square. I looked over the big mess that is Ground Zero, I stared at Macy’s and Tiffany’s, drooled at the purses displayed on Fifth Avenue, and bought my own knockoff on Canal Street in Chinatown.
Of course it was only a visit, but I think what I was waiting for was for New York, in some way to change me. I kept looking at myself in the mirror for clues, half-anticipating the person I’d be when I returned to Kentucky. Who would I be? A Broadway Baby, marked forever by the Wicked stars in my eyes? Knocked senseless by the rich, opulent pervasiveness of fashion? (If you know me, you know I’ve got definite ideas about how I should be shod and, for the most part, dressed.) Where would the strong sense of self, the image I presented to the world, go — when consumed and spit out by the excesses of the city?
Nowhere, it seems. I’m still the same person and it’s a mild disappointment. But I was looking for outward changes, really, and it has become clear that I thought that directly connected to inner changes, too. I look in the mirror and see me, the person I’ve spent my life becoming, the person I like, not in small part because the people I love seem to like it too.
It would have been nice to come home a walking cliché, wearing giant sunglasses and calling everyone “babe.” It would have made for a more interesting, self-deprecating story, at the very least. But no. I’ve returned home with a big trunkful of interesting memories … experience with the subway, the smell of Chinatown fish markets, the taste of dinner in Little Italy, the breathtaking experience of the Van Goghs and Rembrandts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
There was some change, I think, in the little group I left behind. Though I never thought once about it beforehand, my six-day absence performed a small feat of minor magic: wow, Mom sure does a lot around here! Ahem.
Being apart from my family was indeed the roughest aspect of the trip; worse even than the turbulence that had me groping for my Rosary somewhere over Ohio. Though throughout the entire adventure, I had the company of my mother and sisters, my tightest bonds are with the own nuclear nest I founded, feathered and now feed. They missed me. They told me so. And I was so glad to return to them.
So really, New York, you had your chance. For a short while, I was part of it, New York, New York. I made it there, but more importantly, I made it back. I didn’t turn into Paris Hilton while I was gone, thank the Lord God above. I just found a little bit more of the Essential Ellen that was there all along.