This week, I find myself in New York City again. My aunt (who lives in Chicago) had surgery here before Thanksgiving and has been in the hospital or has been staying here as an outpatient since then with my uncle. With the exception of a few days last week, I’ve been here with them. Her situation isn’t the greatest and I find myself here to provide distractions for her.
We’ve kept to a strange schedule since she was released from the hospital. She needs her rest and I’ve instructed them to just call me when they are up and ready for the day. Usually, they’re not ready to face the day until after 10 am. For the last three mornings here in Manhattan, I have found myself wandering the city aimlessly until I have to meet them. I’ve left my hotel room at around 7 am each morning and have just let my feet lead the way. I’ve ducked into shops and restaurants and watched the people and places that just happened to be along my path. There’s been no planning involved – no goal – just movement. For as loud as it can sometimes be in this city, I’ve found these morning outings to be strangely peaceful. When my cell phone rang, I would head in their direction and meet them wherever they needed me to be. Then, my real day would begin. These morning wanderings by myself have been somewhat surreal.
One morning, I found myself in the lower level of 30 Rockefeller Plaza standing in the Starbuck’s line behind Dan Abrams – who’s much smaller and strangely more handsome in person than on tv. The girl who was passing out the beverages asked him what his name was so she could locate his drink and I wondered if he found it comforting that she didn’t recognize him. I had breakfast watching people ice skating on the Rockefeller Center ice rink and felt joy for a white-haired man who was taking beginner figure skating lessons. I’ve found myself as far North as 62nd Street and Lexington and as far South as 31st Street and 7th Avenue during one walk. The interesting sight of the morning was of three large camels walking down West 51st Street with their handlers. I also happened to be walking by the “Today Show” set during the segment with Carrie Fisher and wondered where her legs had gone when I glanced through the window (they’re still there – she was just sitting oddly). I walked through stores that opened early for holiday shopping and was glad to see huge crowds browsing the goods. I walked out in the rain and watched everyone rush around with their umbrellas. It’s interesting to watch people walking through a steady rain. It seems to amplify what’s going on in their heads and hearts.
I never feel like a tourist here in Manhattan – and for that, I am grateful. I don’t think my morning walks would have been as therapeutic as they seem to have been if I felt at all like a tourist. I’ve spent a lot of time in this city over the years. My first visit here was before my first birthday. In my early 20’s, I met my husband here. I love it here. It was comforting to get lost amongst the rest of humanity but to never feel lost at all. During these hours that seem to have been stolen away for myself, the world around me didn’t need me and I was operating on autopilot. I’m grateful to the city for enabling me to wander without a physical destination in mind and for helping me to get my mind to a good place so that I could be more helpful to my family. I guess I wasn’t truly wandering aimlessly.