One of my best friends from college has been living in New York City for about as long as we have been living in Minnesota. She had a stint in the Midwest and another in the South during our years in Buffalo, New York–which is not anywhere near NYC for those of you unsure of your New York geography. Buffalo is on Lake Erie over eight hours driving from NYC (which takes another eight hours to get across by bus, but the train is faster, and if traffic is good, take an Uber… right?). Well, my friend Claire grew up in Jersey, so NYC is much more her native environment than it could ever be for me.
A few weekends ago, Claire welcomed our mutual friend Tina and myself to her tiny flat in Queens for a Moms’ get away weekend. We lived like we were single, but mostly talked about our kids and Claire, being the awesome single lady and friend that she is, enjoyed every single story. And we being on break from our home lives, ate out more times (without kids) in three days than we have in the past several years. I used to say that I did not really feel like an adult yet, but since I had my fourth child and we bought a house, I have been feeling more and more of adulthood. This solo trip to NY showed me even more how I am a grown up… (oh the plight of us Millenials…)
The weekend was quite memorable, full of more stories than you might care to hear. My visit started with an early 4:30am wake up, and somehow no coffee until I was through security and walking to my gate. It was a direct flight, and somehow I ended up talking to my seatmate–a single bearded man a year younger than me–the whole flight. We started on something about the flight, snow driving in Minnesota, Iowa cops (his home state) and speed traps, my kids, home schooling, Catholicism, sacramental theology, science and the Bible, why he stopped going to church, how he wants to raise kids Catholic if he ever gets married, Kant, Shakespeare, my parish’s Sunday orchestral Mass, photons, where we were on 9-11 (as we flew by the Freedom tower), and ended on craft beer. It was quite fun; and I hope that he goes to the orchestral Mass someday.
|Yes, that is a stained glass window with Aristotle…his halo is blue as opposed to yellow. From St. Vincent Ferrars,|
After I landed in NY, I am quite proud of myself for making my way to the bus stop and managing to acquire and load a metro card, getting on the right bus, and getting off at the right stop. It helped that Queens has numbered streets, so I could count down as we went along. My awkwardness of riding a bus pressed into strangers all ignoring me completely dissipated by the end of the weekend.
Claire brought us into Manhattan for all sorts of interesting things every day of the visit. We went to a giant spice store, ate amazing mac and cheese (mine was provolone and Gruyere with bacon, spinach, and roasted tomatoes…I need to recreate it…), went to a secret play (where you had to have your name on the list) at St. Michael’s church at a back entrance, laughed way too loud on the train, hailed a taxi, slept in to go to a noon Sunday Mass at St. Vincent Ferrars, spent the afternoon at the MET, bought art from a street vendor, walked through central park, bought a new dress and hat, went to the NY Frassati dinner and praise and worship holy hour, went out for fancy cocktails at Seamstress, Ubered our way home, stayed up until 2am, woke up at 10am, walked around in the pouring rain, sent Tina off to her flight, only bought three books at Strand books, prayed at the old St. Patrick’s, went down to Chinatown, ate soup dumplings and funny ice cream, and talked and talked and talked and talked. Then I woke up bright and early to fly home…coming home to everyone who missed me.
And, yes, the weekend was a fun as it sounded, but the whole time, I was thinking, NYC is fun and all, but boy do I love living in the Midwest. The beauty out here in flyover country is incredible. Upstate New York is pretty gorgeous itself, but there is nothing quite like the middle of America. I also realized how people have so much time to spend online. When you commute for an hour on a train, of course you have time to check the internet a billion times, have twitter battles, Instagram random things, read blogs, send emails and so on. Being a stay at home mom means that my sitting down alone time consists of the snatched minutes I have in the bathroom with an iPad.
Yet, the whole point of the weekend, which is what I said from the planning stages was to catch up with old friends. We opted on one morning to skip all the plans and just hang out together. How many times in my life will I get to do another ladies weekend like this, with friends who have known me for so long, who knew me in my most vulnerable times in college? These are the ladies who helped me learn a deeper love of God, who prayed over me countless times, who still know me so well. And that was the reason for the weekend of fun and rest and friendship.
(And if you are wondering the professor fared quite well alone with the kids… he even beer battered and fried his own cheese curds…)