It has been the setting for countless novels. The backdrop for numerous movies. The muse for songs, poems, paintings. It is a destination for those with dreams in their hearts of fame on the stage, screen, on the written page, the painted canvas. It is entwined in countless cliches and I want to stand in her streets and breathe them all in: yes, I’m talking about New York City. I blame Holden Caufield, who first lit a fire in my soul and imagination that burned to experience all her detailed splendor. I wanted to teleport myself into the New York shared by Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in the move You’ve Got Mail (a 1998 remake of the 1940 Judy Garland film, The Shop Around the Corner) so that I could smell the infamous bouquet of sharpened pencils.
I’ve missed out on the realization of my dream twice now. In 2009, my three best friends since childhood orchestrated a trip to the Big Apple. So not only was I going to the city I’d always dreamed of, I was going with the three best people to make this trek with. Then came the heart breaking choice that no mother should be faced with, a scheduling conflict that pitted the trip of my dreams against the trip of my four children’s dream: Disney World. And as any mother worth her salt, I made the only decision possible, I went to Orlando with my kids. Lucky for me, I got updates and swag from my beloveds from the City That Never Sleeps.
I met my best friend, blogging partner, book fanatic, and sister from another mister, Heather Sheffield in the Summer of 2010, and outside of the states between us, we are inseparable. Heather asked me to join her in this blogging venture in April of 2013. When she told me last November that there was a blogging conference that would be held in NYC in May of this year, I could hear a heavenly choir, equal parts the rustling of book pages and the blaring of taxi cab horns that heralded an amends from the gods of unrealized travel. A book conference in NYC. This was the Ed McMahon holding a big check on your front porch kind of dream come true. One conference and three plane ticket purchases later, and I had all the tools to make this a reality.
I’m not sure if I’ve detailed this in any previous posts, but somewhere along the cosmos, I inherited some Eeyore’s rain cloud kind of karma. I undoubtedly did a stint as Hitler’s girlfriend or some such in a former life. Tickets bought, bags packed, cue disaster. The day before my scheduled departure, a coworker up and quit, leaving on the spot, without working out a notice. This would put my office short staffed if I decided to follow through with my trip, and it was suggested that in the best interests of my career, I should cancel my trip. If this weren’t enough of a rock and a hard place for a single mother of four, throw in some medical/psychological issues with the family member in charge of keeping my children while I was gone…….and my second realization of the dream of going to NYC died a slow, excruciating death.
Heather and I shared tearful phone calls as she prepared to head to the Charlotte Airport to get on the flight that I would no longer be on with her. My sweet, strong girl was seemingly braving the big city all on her own, but whether she knew it or not, she took my heart to NYC. I took this thwarted trip harder than the first. I had no conciliatory trip to the happiest place on Earth with my babies. And since I started writing again, I looked forward to seeing them with the eyes of my imagination. Cataloging the smells, the sounds, the lights. The vibes that permeate the very air, and all the lines I would use to describe them.
But although my eyes, ears, and nose were painfully absent in the lights of the city, Heather made sure my heart was present and accounted for. She included it with every text, gchat, phone call and picture that she sent. She collected as much book swag for me as her sweet little arms could carry. She took the book tote I gave her for her birthday, which resembles a library slip, and had the authors we love sign it. She made me a part of the experience in every possible way. She took my heart to NYC, and while she left a small piece of it there, the rest of it currently resides in NC with her.