Christmas time in NYC. The perfect destination for standing in line while blowing through your 401K. What was I thinking.
Paris, Hong Kong, London, Bangkok, Tokyo; If you’ve been with us from the beginning you know that Jen and I have seen many of the world’s well known cities. Rome? Yep. Istanbul? Bought carpets in the grand bazzar. Beijing and Marrakech, yes and yes. We’ve sucked the thin air in Quito and been chased by dogs in Lhasa. We’ve roasted in Delhi and froze in Kyoto.
However, for years there has been one glaring omission. It’s embarrassing considering the destinations we’ve spent so much time and effort to visit. Years of travel, passports overflowing with visa stamps, and neither of us have ever been to New York City.
Recently we decided to rectify this egregious lapse. We took advantage of the easy 90-minute train ride, and headed to the city to celebrate Lily and Isabelle’s 10th birthday.
So much has been written about NYC it’s silly of me to add to the reams of information already out there. However, we did find two blogs very helpful during our 3 days in the city. Cityroverwalks.com has a great self-guided walking itinerary with added history/factoids to bore your children and impress your wife. Their guide to using the subway was indispensable.
As a foodie I especially love EatYourWorld.com. If you’ve ever dragged your wife past 15 ramen shops to find THE BEST ramen in Tokyo, EatYourWorld is for you. Their NYC guide was super easy to use, and even went into the history of some of the city’s iconic eats. My favorite part of EatYourWorld is the ability for user contributions. So if you’re drunk on the back of a pink scooter in Hanoi, and you’ve just found a life-altering beef tongue Bahn Mi, upload your tale to the site and join the likes of Anthony Bourdain as a travel/food critic.
By every measure our weekend in the city was a success. Macy’s Christmas windows, the lights at Saks, ice skating in Bryant Park, and the tree in Rockefeller Center. We saw a Broadway show, road the subway, and ate pizza like locals (fold it in half). We even met Al Roker!
The shining jewel of our trip? My pick is a nighttime walk across the Brooklyn Bridge with the birthday girls. Jen and Stella crashed at the hotel after dinner, when Lily decided she wasn’t done adventuring for the day. A quick subway ride downtown and we were across the bridge with the city lit up behind us. After a day of wandering about the feet of the towering buildings, this was our first real view of the skyline. It’s a famous view that we’ve all seen in movies and TV. And it was lovely.
But it’s not the view that made it the highlight of my trip. It’s because we had time then to connect. We are so fortunate to see amazing places in our travels, but it is these quite moments just walking and listening to my kids, that I love most about our lifestyle. It’s why I love hiking with them. It’s why I love walking Stella home from Spanish every Tuesday and Thursday.
My favorite part of this season of parenthood is walking quietly alongside these kids and listening to them jabber on. It is the closest I can be to them now, the only way I know how to immerse myself in their free form style of thought-speech. I try to maximize these opportunities, to hold onto these moments before puberty throws up a wall and cuts me out of their internal life.
At which point, my heart will break a little. But that’s parenthood isn’t it? The slow, exquisite unfolding of the most lovely heartbreak.