New York State of Mind
Our girls had been hinting for quite some time that they wanted to visit New York City. My husband and I had a number of conversations about it, and I was of the strong opinion that we were in one of the final seasons were our girls would want to vacation with us. I'm sure, in years to come that if we have somewhere exciting to go, they will want to be part of the trip. But, they will likely want to go off on their own, and explore the sites for themselves. However, now at 14 and 13 years old, they still want to explore with us.
We decided to make the trip a total surprise for them. We woke them early on the first day of Spring Break, and had them embark upon a scavenger hunt around the house. The final clue was just below a photo of the NYC skyline and it read: "Things are looking up. Pack your bags, because we are going on a trip!" It took a few moments for the reality to sink in, and even then, they questioned if we were serious. Once the shock wore off, we went into scramble mode to pack and get to the airport.
Aside from a few travel delays, we arrived in NYC without incident and the adventure began. We hit many of the traditional tourist highlights including: Time Square, the 911 Memorial, The Empire State Building, Chinatown, Little Italy, and the Harbor Tour, seeing the Statue of Liberty at night. It was a crammed packed 3 days, but an experience we will not soon forget.
While there are lots of incredible sights to experience in New York, there is also the harsh reality that comes with a city of millions of people. We saw many homeless and mentally ill, roaming the streets and the subway systems. At one point, we even saw two homeless men shooting heroin right out in the open. It's a shock, and amazingly sad. But, it's real life.
From the celebration of accomplishment for what mankind can achieve, to the numbing loss of thousands of lives taken from terrorism, NYC has it all. It's a strange mix of staggering wealth and poverty, architecture and filth, all stirred together with people from all over the globe.
I recognize that travel is a privilege a majority of the earth's population will never get to experience. I don't take it for granted. I am very thankful for the opportunities we've had to explore both various parts of the U.S., and other countries as well.
If you are able to travel, I highly suggest doing so. There is so much to learn about how people live, what that particular culture achieves and values, and how different life can be, even within the borders of your own country. And while this may not be the experience of everyone, for me, it makes me extremely thankful for home. Of all the places I've visited, I've never found myself thinking "Man, I wish I could live here." Instead, home beacons, and the gratitude I have when I lay back down in my own bed comes with a whispered prayer "Lord, thank you for the experience, and thank you for home."