I’m having some trouble with flashbacks. Anna and I just returned from a trip to New York City with my parents and even though it was her first trip to “the city”, I can’t stop remembering my own first visit. When I was just about the age she is right now.
Anna turns twelve in less than a month and my dad had a meeting and invited us to come along with him and my mom for an early birthday celebration for our tween. The boys were disappointed that they couldn’t come, but I promised them that none of us would go back to NYC before they got to travel there, and we brought them some m&m’s that say “I heart NY” and they seem none the worse for wear.
They spend two nights at home with our trusted babysitter and church nursery-worker, Grace, and then they spent two days with Wade’s bff and his family at their place in the country, where Wade apparently shot an axis deer. I wish I could have been there for the male coming-of-age ritual, but I was busy in New York with Anna introducing her to the joys of Madison Avenue and Broadway.
Anna and I left early on Wednesday morning and arrived in New Jersey of all places around noon, in the cold and rain. We took a taxi into the city in heavy traffic and met my parents at a wonderful bistro called Le Bon Soupe, whose specialty is le soupe. Anna declined le soupe and ordered an omelet. Which was très delicieuse. After lunch we strolled a few blocks north to our hotel, which was very grand and super-fancy. They change their floral arrangements out every single day, which I find equally impressive and frivolous. We stopped in at some giant NYC department stores and ogled the $43,000 jewelry and beautiful, expensive shoes, and then we hopped in a taxi for our 8:30 seating at Birdland.
We heard a great jazz duet of bass and piano and fielded questions from a New Yorker sitting next to us who was far more impressed with Anna and me living in Austin than she was with my parents living in Mississippi. “MISSISSIPPI?” she sneered at us. “MISSISSIPPI? Why MISSISSIPPI? What is it like to live in MISSISSIPPI?” We just wanted to listen to the band, but she was a New Yorker and all the conversation I heard from her table was about NPR and how the Republicans are all crooks so I imagine that we were a real novelty to her.
On Thursday we showed Anna the big shops on Madison and Fifth Avenues. She certainly enjoyed all the apologies from my mother and me when we were making her wait while we just tried on this one more thing. I bought a boring black dress that is completely perfect and appropriate for every possible occasion from depositions to funerals. I tried on some sparkly high-heeled shoes, but they were pronounced “outlandish” which I think is kind of strong language, but I did acknowledge that they had a somewhat more limited application and I passed them up. We spent the rainy afternoon at an Egyptian exhibit at the Met.
On Thursday night we dined at Gramercy Tavern pre-theatre and then raced to our theatre to see Matilda. We had wonderful seats and Anna loved it, and declared it the best part of the trip. After that, we walked back to the hotel and fell into our big, comfortable, luxury-sheeted beds and slept hard until morning.
On Friday we took a bus tour until we stopped off in Soho, where we hatched the great idea that Anna should attend NYU for college. We strolled through the boutiques and Chinatown and Little Italy and texted my dad the address of a restaurant we found and he met us for dinner. Once again, we collapsed into our beds.
On Saturday, Anna and her Grandaddy took a taxi to Sarabeth’s for breakfast and the Guggenheim for some upper east-side culture. They also strolled back to the hotel via Central Park and experienced some street-culture. Rosie and I manned the shops in midtown and walked until our feet hurt. Only to learn that the plan for the afternoon included a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge with every other tourist in New York. We were motivated to persevere through the hordes of foot-travelers by the promise of pizza on the other side and we were not disappointed. As a bonus, Anna was able to see the statue of liberty. We ended the day with a nightmarish trip to the m&m store at Times Square and then a viewing of the star-crossed football game between Ole Miss and LSU in our chambers. Because we were very tired.
On my first trip to New York, my mom and I rode the bus up from Tennessee and I remember some pretty scary truck stops along the Virginia border. That is some rough country along the edge of Appalachia that we drove through all day and all night. And I remember being in museums all day every day. Except when we were in the broadway plays. I remember more about that trip when I was Anna’s age than I do about any of my subsequent trips to the city, and I hope that she will remember this one as vividly as I think of that one.
We were so sad that Wade and Henry weren’t with us, because they would have had a great time. I know that they will get to have a trip sometime and that they will love it. It’s just hard to travel with too large a group to a place like New York City and it wasn’t everybody’s birthday. Just Anna and Rosie’s. I think we planned just the right amount of activity. Because right now we are home and I am tired, but not so tired that I can’t go to work tomorrow. That may be because we didn’t plan too much, but it may also be a result of the reduced demands of a 3:1 parent to child ratio, and not to the 1:3 that I usually manage.
We just had a wonderful time, and I told my friend who lives there that if she can just hold on for 12 more years, I will move up to Brooklyn and hang out with her just as soon as I get these children raised and independent.