A Big Apple Weekend: Traveling to Encounter

This morning I woke up abruptly to the annoying ring of synthetic church bells coming from my phone. My hair was mashed like the left side of my face had been steamrolled in the night. I realized I’d been mouth-breathing for who knows how long, triggering a sub-conscious choice to feel numb to this Wednesday. This is my third morning of trying to recover from this weekend.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been on a countdown until September 4th as if Christmas Day had moved within the calendar. I had a plane ticket, one suitcase, and a whole swarm of butterflies in my stomach because I was going to meet Reid in New York City, my first time seeing him in nearly 3 months.

It was one of those plans that started off as a silly idea made while eating that midnight bowl of cereal and turned into a full-scale plan just a few days later. That long-awaited Friday finally arrived, seemingly moving at a glacial pace through the week, and I was on my way.

We met up in some random sketchy part of town (even my Uber driver was nervous for me) and from that moment on, we were on a mission to see everything NY had to offer us in such a small chunk of time.

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Saturday brought us across Manhattan, into the Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, through Central Park (where I saw every landmark of seemingly all my favorite chick flicks and was secretly on the lookout for Patrick Dempsey) and finally into Times Square, where I realized I really enjoy the peace and quiet of small towns.

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Reid and I splurged and went to dinner at a restaurant he picked and were treated to possibly some of the best food we’d ever tasted. Just one sleep later, we were in Grand Central Station and four miles down 5th Avenue. We bopped from a Brazilian street festival all the way down to Freedom Tower, where we saw a full 360 view of the city from the sky deck at the top of the 1776ft building, something I will never forget.

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Twenty minutes later I was in a cab headed back to the airport. It was sad and there were tears (I was so emotionally unstable) and I didn’t want to leave; but in the end, after I’d finished having severe allergies (that’s what I told my cab driver), I smiled to myself knowing this weekend had left me flat-out grateful. Grateful to have someone who gets excited about the things I do, who holds my blue slushie when I want to take a few pictures, and somehow makes learning about the history of trees and types of soil an interesting topic of discussion. Grateful for it all.

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This is one big sappy story to reveal the few things I really learned this weekend: I’m the kind of person who can get motion sickness from the subway (an embarrassing story I may choose to share later), I should never discredit a middle-of-the-night idea, and who you travel with is the most important part of the trip. The hotel, the location, the sights and the sounds–they’re all irrelevant if you’re not traveling with someone you want to share them with. This weekend wasn’t about New York, it was about us.

Maybe that’s how we should view the concept of traveling in general–not about the place but about the people we go with and meet in the process; as an encounter rather than a passport stamp.

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