New York City: An Inspirational Tale

Skating at Rockefeller Center with my honey.

Skating at Rockefeller Center with my honey.

I am completely in awe of how being in a place for just a few days can have such an impact on me. It’s tough to describe the feeling, but I left New York City feeling somehow different than when I arrived. I am at once exhausted yet energized, and even more in love with the city than I was after my last visit over 10 years ago.

For me, part of the the magic of NYC is found in its inherent contrasts: the visible extremes of rich and poor; the ever present underlying theme of struggle and triumph; and the prevalence of despair set against a backdrop of constant hope.

The people are, without a doubt, one of the city’s greatest attributes. I can’t help but marvel at their gritty determination and sheer awesomeness. It’s evident it must take a tough skin to live—and thrive—in NYC, yet most of the people we encountered didn’t seem to be too hardened by living there. Everyone we came across—from retail and hotel staff to people on the street—was friendly and helpful.

For those with a hearty appetite, one of the best things about New York is the food. The city is a mecca of multiculturalism, and nowhere is this more evident than in its culinary offerings. Some of the highlights for me were the poppy seed ‘Pick your Bagel’ with lox and house made cream cheese, thin crust pizza from Lombardi’s, and chicken eggplant rollotini with penne and fresh tomato sauce from 44SW Italian Eatery. The mussels and frites from Brasserie La Hasse were also amazing!

No trip to NYC would be complete without taking in at least one show on Broadway, and we were lucky enough to see two in our short four-day trip. The first was Rock of Ages. My husband and I actually went on a date to see the movie when it was released a few years back, so we were already familiar with the story and new it would be right up our alley. Also, it’s one of the few shows that plays on Sunday evenings and we lucked out getting half-price tickets from TKTS on the Square the day of the show. Wahoo! The plot strayed from the movie version a little, at the same time offering even more electrically charged raunchiness and hilarity. It also included a couple of unexpected songs in the second act that weren’t in the movie. All in all, Rock of Ages is a great show and tons of fun to take in.

Based on the recommendation of nearly everyone we talked to, the second show we saw was Kinky Boots. Let me just say this was the greatest show I’ve ever seen, bar none. Lola is the drag queen and central character of the story about a struggling mens’ shoe factory in England at the turn of the century. Played by Billy Porter, this performance earned him a Tony in 2013 and it’s not hard to see why, it was spot-on. With a score by Cindy Lauper, phenomenal supporting cast, and wonderful message of accepting others and being yourself, Kinky Boots was awesome!

Seeing the amazing Jimmy Fallon during the second week of his new Tonight Show format was another major highlight. I’ve always regarded Fallon as extremely talented, and getting to see his live show only served to reinforce my belief. While we were in the neighbourhood for the live taping of the show, I made my husband’s year by asking if we could go skating at Rockefeller Center. (He’s a good, hockey-loving Canadian boy, and we had never been skating together in the nearly 20 years we’ve been a couple.) Aside from the steep price tag for our two admission tickets and skate rental fees, I’m glad we had this once-in-a-lifetime experience. I had a blast, and dare I say may have even redeemed myself as an adequate skater —both in my husband’s eyes and as a good Canadian girl.

I find the history and architecture of NYC absolutely fascinating. I could literally walk around for days just gawking at buildings—admiring the architectural details, and sheer magnificence of it all. I particularly fell in love with SoHo’s quaint buildings and adorable cobblestone streets. The charm had me caught up in a daydream, losing myself in a fantasy of becoming a writer and spending countless days in coffee shops.

By far, the greatest gift of our trip to NYC is the indescribable feeling of change it sparked in me. We stayed in an adorable boutique hotel, The Muse, and the city itself is beyond amusing. I may even go as far as to say New York has been a muse for me. Irrefutably, it stirred something in me. The tiniest spark seems to have ignited a little fire in my belly, and I have the sensation of a dormant dream being awakened.

Maybe it’s the symbolism as a place where dreams are born and made. Or maybe it’s the people—so many of whom have had to overcome all kinds of adversity, and others who continue fight every single day for the chance to do what they love. I’ve noticed I now have a slightly different view of life and many new ideas are starting to bubble up to the surface. Is this what they call inspiration? Maybe.

Whatever you call it, I feel as though the stories of my heart, which have been locked away deep down inside for so long I’d almost forgotten were there, are now trying to break free. And so I’d like to thank you, New York City, from the bottom of my heart, for loosening the shackles and helping me see a whole new world of possibility. I am forever grateful we had the chance to meet once again, and I sincerely hope to return to you before another 10 years pass.

Until next time.

En route to the Big Apple & already missing the apples of my eye

Start spreading the news. I’m leaving to day.
I want to be a part of it. New York, New York.

Alright, alright. I’m happy to leave the crooning to Frank Sinatra. As it should be. I just couldn’t help but use the reference. After all, it is very apropos under the circumstances.

You know when you go months at a time without any dedicated one-on-one time with your significant other? Then, by a strange twist of fate, the stars align, you get a reliable sitter, and you’re finally able to go out on a real adult date with your hunny? Only to be able to spend the entire evening talking about your kids? Ya. That.

Sitting in the lounge at Edmonton International Airport at the start of our first kid-free holiday in quite some time, and I’m already missing my kids. Even though getting through airline check-in, security, and customs was a dream without them in tow. Even though I’m sitting here in blissful, yet eerily quite. I feel like something’s missing.

And something is, because we always have them with us when we travel. It’s what we do. It’s what I know. My daughter was just 11 months old when we took her on an eastern Caribbean cruise. My son was just four months when we traveled as a family to Maui. And as I sit here in this peace and quiet, I am flooded with memories of all the trips we’ve taken together.

Like the time we went to Turks & Caicos… The trip was planned in celebration of our tenth wedding anniversary. We had planned a vow renewal and were very excited to have our kids with us to mark the occasion. Yet, if I had to give the trip a name or title, Trouble in Paradise would barely begin to describe it. My daughter got a black eye by running into a luggage cart before we left Edmonton, she nearly lost one of our passports by putting it into a suitcase moments before it went onto the conveyor belt at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, and we all spent over half the week knocked out by an awful stomach virus. Despite the crappy run of luck (pun intended), what I remember most is having that time together, as a family.

Even though I miss my kids already, I must say I’m very excited to have the opportunity to be going back to New York with my hubby. We visited once before and found the city magical. I think it was in 2003 because I remember going to see the rubble at the World Trade Center site, and it was definitely part of our pre-kid life. We’ve been wanting to go back for quite some time, but never thought it would be a suitable destination for our seven and five-year-old children. With all the sightseeing and walking, it’s a much different type of vacation than what they’re used to.

We’ve intentionally kept our four days in the City that never sleeps fairly unstructured (and we may not sleep for four days, either). If you have recommendations for Broadway shows, restaurant, and must-see sights in NYC, please drop me a line. Not sure how much we’ll be able to squeeze into the next four days before leaving for St. Martin, but we’ll do our best!

After an adventurous cab ride, we’ve made it to our hotel, which is just a couple blocks off of Times Square. More adventure awaits, just outside our doors, and I’m sure we’ll be back in the New York groove in no time. (Ok, that’s my last song reference. For now.)