It was our first New York morning. We were staying with my brother and his family. This view greeted us from their place that day.
My husband and I diligently saved ten years worth of frequent flyer points and used it all to purchase our plane tickets. The experience was to be my birthday present. We were excited and couldn’t wait to arrive. This was THE city, made famous in movies and song. We finally had the chance to see what it was all about.
The city was incredible. Vast and full of people, all I could see were streets of tall buildings crowding out the sky. We spent our first morning in Times Square and Broadway. I felt overwhelmed. It was too much to process. Sydney may be a big city, but New York was something else. I started to feel lost and suddenly my anxieties tightened across my chest. My son and husband were entranced by the place, enjoying its frenetic pace and mass of people. I wished I could enjoy it too, but I was busy fighting the rising panic.
We went to a basketball game that night at the Barclays Center. My basketball loving son had a fantastic time. It was a pleasure to see his face light up as he watched the game in the country that invented it. But it still didn’t feel quite real. It felt as if I wasn’t quite present.
The next morning we went to the Met. The place was massive. We wandered through huge rooms full of old artefacts and masterpieces. We were there for what seemed like hours, but had only seen about third of the exhibits. I began to despair. The scale of everything, the buildings, the museums, the streets were so big here, it felt like you needed a lifetime to explore it all. We only had a few hours.
It was then my husband whipped out an article that suggested the top ten things to see at the Met. We now had a purpose. No longer wandering aimlessly through the building, we were there to see famous artworks that we had previously only seen in books and didn’t know the Met had.
We made our way through Central Park afterwards and found ourselves at the lake. It was a beautiful autumn afternoon and we decided to go boating. It was going to end in tears, I silently catastrophised. But I went along with it, ignoring the panic in my stomach. Thank goodness I did.
Something happened out on that lake in that autumn sunshine. Five minutes went by, and there was no catastrophe. No one fell in. We still had our oars. Suddenly I couldn’t believe we were finally here, in this place, messing about in a boat on Central Park lake. We just saw the Met. We walked through Broadway, Times Square and saw our boy have a wonderful time at a basketball game. And we were only at the start of our trip.
I started to smile and found myself grinning. My husband caught it.
“That’s it!” he enthused. “That’s the way. Finally, I get to see you smile for the first time since we arrived.”
The worries that gripped me slowly faded and I finally, thankfully, began to enjoy the moment. And that was it. We spent precious time with family, walked until our legs ached, saw shows and ate delicious food. Our time in New York went quickly and all too soon, it was time to come home.