Stephen surprised me with a trip back to New York for my 35th birthday this year. Mary drove up to watch the littles and we flew up Friday and didn't come home until Monday night. We saw old friends, and old familiar places. We stepped right into the rhythm that we stepped out of when we moved to Raleigh. It was like we never left. Of course we did have that moment getting on the Air Train when you can't remember if you want Howard Beach or the Jamaica station.. and you walk around the terminal in a circle a couple of times trying not let anyone see you are confused. And someone does and they laugh and you laugh and remember where you are supposed to go and feel a little silly for having even considered Jamaica.
Of course lots has changed in 5 years. I hadn't seen the High Line yet.
We did Chelsea the first morning there and then met Thomas and Bethany and went to see what was new in Brooklyn by the bridge. The one thing we had been sure of was that we would have no set agenda, no schedule. Dinner with MKD and L, brunch with A and C but other than that just a list of restaurants we wanted to eat at. The other thing we were sure of was that we wanted to visit our old block on 32nd Street. But as we said goodbye to Thomas and Bethany in Brooklyn Heights and headed back to the train, I knew I couldn't do it. I couldn't walk up those steps from the train and see the neighborhood changed. I couldn't walk towards 193A and not see Lonna's bright blue flower boxes out front filled with blossoms. I couldn't stand across the street and see someone else's curtains in our old windows. Couldn't not see Oliver and his little white stripe waiting in the widow for us to come upstairs. My heart broke at the thought of it. Stephen didn't completely understand but he was gracious and we headed back to Manhattan for dinner with our friends. I had forgotten how hard it had been to leave until I had the chance to go back. How I had cried as I took my last walk to the train that last morning. How I had hugged my pregnant belly and told myself how it would be worth it in the end. The sacrifice of my life here, for theirs to come.
We spent a quiet Sunday in our favorite museum. Then we went to Central Park, ate lunch from Hampton Chutney and laid in the grass and read until we were chilly and ready for dinner. We ordered take out Indian and ate in Emily's apartment. We did all the things we used to do on our days off. It truly felt like a vacation - and for me vacations rarely do. Happy 35th year to me.