Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sweet Land of Liberty

I found myself getting teary-eyed more than once this weekend. We were in New York City celebrating our country's Independence Day and visiting with our youngest daughter, Mary. My teariness arose from being proud of Mary making her way in a big city and from an appreciation of the heterogeneous society that makes New York – and by extension, America – the great place that it is. 
Lady Liberty from Staten Island Ferry
We chose this weekend to visit as one of Jack's best friends from China was flying to America and spending the weekend checking things off her must-do/must-see list. Shaoting was planning to stay with Mary and we wanted to see her again as she was one of Jack's friends who nursed him back to health after his appendicitis attack -- and for that, we are most grateful.

I didn't think much about it being a holiday weekend; but turns out, it was a great weekend to be in the city. The crowds were down and the weather was just about perfect. And a patriotic spirit was sweeping through the Big Apple -- or maybe it was just me that was feeling susceptible to all things red, white and blue.

Shaoting was here on a visa that was set to expire shortly and she saw it as a chance to come see people and places that are so different from her and from Shenzhen, the city in Southern China where she lives. Visas to leave China are hard to come by. Travel is restricted -- and expensive.

 at One Trade Observatory
Most of the people that I hang around with in Shelbyville are old, white, fairly well off, drive pickup trucks, go to church most Sundays, and seldom venture far from home.  New York, on the other hand, is full of people whose skin, religion, language, dress and life experiences are 180 degrees different than mine. It was just what my soul needed.

Our neighbor at our Airbnb apartment was a Hasidic Jew (complete with sidelocks); the community garden next door to our apartment was a gathering place for Puerto Rican men who played dominos every evening. Our Uber drivers were named Juan, Abu, Pablo, and Gennadly. The preacher at First Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn Heights was a black, gay woman; the people whose fireworks party Ed and I crashed on the roof of our building were all 20-somethings. As we walked around town, I heard conversations in French, German, Chinese, Spanish and a dozen other languages. We sang from an African American hymnal on Sunday morning. We ate at a Jewish deli, a German beer garden, an Italian cafe and an American Steakhouse. Talk about a melting pot of sights, sounds, smells, and tastes!

Shaoting was excited to be in America. She hadn't slept in days, but didn't want to slow down for a moment. We looked at her list and decided to divide and conquer. In addition to her list of sights, Shaoting wanted to try New York pizza, bagels, and cheesecake.

Mary greeted Shaoting on Wednesday night and they ordered pizza. Check. The next morning, Ed and I took a crack-of-dawn flight and showed up at Mary's office, just as Mary and Shaoting were getting off the morning train from Brooklyn. We headed 'round the corner to a deli for bagel and lox -- and later that day we stopped in Little Italy for cheesecake. Check. Check.

While Mary worked, we visited the 9/11 Memorial and took a ride to the 107th floor of One World Observatory. Check and check. We then took the Staten Island Ferry past the Statue of Liberty. Check. We rendezvoused with Mary, and she and Shaoting walked across the Brooklyn Bridge (while Ed and I sat on a park bench to people watch). Check.

Shaoting's list was getting shorter. The next morning we met Jack's college roommate, Matt, for breakfast at Russ & Daughters Cafe. While this particular cafe was not on Shaoting's list, it definitely was on mine. It did not disappoint. So, check.

Mary, Shoating and Matt at Russ & Daughters Cafe
Ed and Shaoting caught a metro up to Central Park (check), visited the Metropolitan Museum (check) and Times Square (check), while Mary, Matt and I visited the new Whitney Museum and then walked the High Line in the meatpacking district.

At "America is Hard to See" exhibit at the new Whitney Museum
Shaoting was off to Chicago on Saturday morning, with a nearly completed check list. We said our farewells and then headed back into Manhattan, meeting up with Mary at the Union Square Green Market, with a side trip to the Strand Bookstore and some other miscellaneous shopping.

Berries at Union Square Green Market

Ice cream on a summer night at Louie G's.
View from our roof top of men playing dominoes. 
Ed and I crashed a party on our rooftop to watch the fireworks over Manhattan. My iphone just didn't capture the beauty. 
Photograph by Barry Yanowitz, used under a Creative Commons license.
Sunday morning we met Mary at First Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn Heights. The beautiful old church was the most diverse one I've ever attended and they made us feel welcomed. After church, we had brunch in the neighborhood before saying our goodbyes to Mary and heading to the airport.

So we are now back at Farm Dover with memories of a wonderful weekend. I miss Mary already.

1 comment:

  1. I miss Mary, too! What a great post on a beautiful visit. You made me see all those places (and taste the cheesecake).