While we were out, Scott and I spent the world’s fastest few days in New York – first in a suburb of the city, then a handful of nights in Manhattan. As it always seems to go, our time there was way, way too short, but it was long enough to give us that much needed break from front-porch-planning, laptops, work talk and baseboards (oh, I cringe!).
My mom lives in a small town about an hour and a half from the city, and for the very first time in my life, I met my 17-year-old half brother – who, by the way, is a pretty amazing kid! The days leading up to our trip, I remember feeling nervous and slightly anxious; I’m going to meet a sibling! I haven’t seen my mom in almost 6 years! Where’s the wine? I need my chill pill. (Ha!)
My parents divorced when I was very young (too young to remember), and I grew up with my dad, step mom (who I called “mom” – she raised me, went to every one of my hockey tournaments and has always been there), and half siblings (who I never viewed as “halves,” so to speak; I changed their diapers and drove them to sports practice!). My birth mom always lived far away – at least a long plane ride – and aside from a few phone calls every year and one visit when I was 10, I never knew her as an adult. To be quite honest, I never gave it much thought until I was in college, a result of my friends questions and curiosity. Growing up, it was something that didn’t cross my mind much; that’s the (weird) truth (I already had a happy family I’d known almost my entire life), but 6 years ago, we reconnected after more than 15 years (!).
It’s funny that until that meeting, I didn’t realize that I really, really missed her being a part of my life. We never discussed the gap in time, and at this point, it doesn’t even matter. (Better late than never, as they say!) I know it might seem strange, but she held and coddled our cats in the same way I do, she ordered the same ice cream that I crave on hot summer days, and she would say a sentence – verbatim – at the exact moment that I did. (Jinx!) She’s an incredibly talented artist, and she walked around our entire condo and commented on each photo, framed print and paint color choice; she loved it all.
Since that visit, we talk on the phone much more, we send cards, and after 6 years of not having seen her, we booked our tickets to a tiny airport in Newburgh, New York, and we met her husband for the first time. We met her son (and my half sibling) for the first time! We slept in, watched movies, barbecued and ate coconut cake. We fell in love with their teeny poodle Biscuit, and I considered stuffing him in my suitcase. (Do you think they’ll notice?, I asked Scott.) As an adult, I finally feel like I know my mom. And for as many things that we have in common, she’ll surprise me with the silly things she says, and the things that worry her. I’ve learned the cadence in her voice, noticed the way she walks, and we filled our bellies on her homemade Korean food.
At the end of our visit, she dropped us off at the bus that would take us into the city. After such a wild range of emotions, it felt a little surreal to say good bye, and she cutely tried to prolong the visit by insisting we stop at the market for fruit and snacks. When I promised her that we would eat lunch after we checked into our hotel, she waited with us until the bus came (we both got teary eyed, of course!), and we were on to the next leg of our trip!
The ride into NYC was nice, since it gave us a little time to decompress, chat about the whirlwind family “meeting” – and what’ll be the first thing we do after dropping our bags? Scott and I have both been to the city previously, but it’s been well over 10 years for each of us (and ironically, we realized that we were both there during the same month, same year – before we knew each other!). We were only in the city for two and a half days, and these walking legs were sore by the time we boarded the plane back home! The sign of a successful vacation, we think.
We walked The High Line, dined off of your feedback and found ourselves in the middle of a dance-party-slash-BBQ-fest. An evening with an old friend had us discovering dinner at the end of an alley, cocktails in a speakeasy and ending the night with big, floppy slices of pizza. The weather was just as temperamental as Chicago, giving us beautiful sun one day and rain and fog the next – it didn’t matter; we soaked in every minute!
And a message to New York and (new) family: we won’t be long.