For the past three years, the days before school have been marked with a “special day” where one or both of our kids get to do whatever they want. More often than not this involves a train ride and this year was the BIGGEST ride of all. We visited New York City as a family with a supporting role from Grammy…Thank GOD!
In our daily activities of life, its easy to forget how amazing new experiences can be. But yesterday was a wonderful reminder to look at life through the lens of a child, our children actually. Every day for a week, our son would ask, “Is it New York Day?” The first few times were endearing, but after so much waiting I couldn’t help but be charmed by his excitement on the actual day. Sharlene offered an affable apology to our ‘train neighbors’ to let them know we would be rather loud and excited on the two-hour ride into the city. And boy were we loud…Sharlene more than anyone!
We had two plans for the day. THE Lego store and the Statue of Liberty. Our kids really are quite different. After the Metro North train, the subway, and a long walk…we made it. Although the store was smaller than we thought, my son could not have been more satisfied with the five-hour trip to browse the same collection of Lego’s we browsed shopping last weekend. AWESOME!
We had two hours free and spent time in Central Park at one of its many play grounds. I admit that ‘sitting’ in the shade was the highlight of that adventure. My least favorite moment was watching our daughter climb over rocks and disappear over the other side. As I maneuvered around the edge of the enclosed play area, I realized I had no way to get to her. YES, I was that woman screaming my child’s name over and over in the park. Hey you actually may have heard me…I was that loud!
The Statue of Liberty was a little less exciting than our panic at the park, and everything we could have asked for. My daughter waved as Lady Liberty came into view, this was the adventure she came to experience. I was reminded of high school history class as we were herded through various lines and ushered like cattle to see lady liberty. Security lines are always humbling and I can imagine what this first experience is like for current and past immigrant families. My wife, ever the activist commented on the irony of celebrating freedom when the media is filled with issues related to race, immigration, and individual rights. My thoughts are always the same on this issue. Freedom, individual rights, and compassionate living are not a given. A benefit of being black, gay, and born of immigrant parents is that these ideals will always be something we seek to maintain, practice, and support.
At the end of the day, it was worth the twelve hours of travel. We experienced utter joy and near panic. We both lamented and celebrated the history of our country, and recommitted to what often feels like a lifetime challenge to support freedom and compassionate living in our community.
As we rode the Ferry to begin our journey home, our daughter commented, “…and next the Eiffel Tower!”