If you have met me in the past 15 years, you might be surprised to hear that I was born and partially raised in New York City. Staten Island to be exact, which I know seems more like New Jersey to non-natives, but it's not. It's definitely New York. My father was also a New York City Police Officer, which is important to this story because I remember lots of traveling into the city with my dad.
(On a side note, my parents let my older teenager sisters take me and my brother on the Staten Island Ferry into Lower Manhattan with no parental supervision; in the early '80s before Giuliani cleaned up the place and rent went sky high so that even the lower East side is too expensive. What were they thinking? I think social services would be involved today.)
Anyway, it has been a long time since I have lived in New York. Since moving South when I was eleven, I have been back less than ten times.
So, I don't think I appear to be from New York City. I have more of a Southern accent, although I change easily. According to my girls, one minute I am "talking Southern" then the next minute "I have Aunt Janet voice".
(Hilde says that Grace on Cake Boss reminds her of Aunt Janet.)
This weekend I realized I really do have NYC in my DNA.
Daniel, who is working in Newark NJ, wanted to spend a few days touring Metro NYC. After visiting Newark and the Thomas Edison museum in West Orange NJ; we hit the ground running in NYC. Us and another gazillion people in the city for Thanksgiving. What were we thinking?
We took the train in which landed in the city at Penn Station, a perfect launching pad.
We saw Times Square, Macy's in Herald Square, 5th Avenue (for Christmas Decorations, American Girl and FAO Schwarz), The Museum of Natural History, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and took the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
All in three days.
What I realized when I was there was that I LOVE NYC.
(Daniel hates it. He would rather stay in New Jersey.)
We must have walked miles and hours and I was energized by it all.
I am not afraid in the city at all. I hit the pavement and my New Yorker kicks in. I walk fast, I talk fast and I will go any where, even Central Park after dark. Although it was a bit empty and creepy.
Even though I had to stop to figure out where we were going, once we got to all these landmarks, I had vivid memories of being there as a kid come back to me.
(My accent also came flooding back. It's funny how it just slides in.)
I remember my dad driving into the city to take me to see the windows on 5th avenue. He parallel parked our huge station wagon on 5th avenue and we spent the evening walking up and down and looking at the windows.
This firmly embedded the magic of Christmas in New York for me.
I tried to convince Maeve and Hilde to go in Macy's and see the real Santa. The real Santa comes to Macy's every year (That's the point of the parade, if you didn't know.) and this is their last chance to see him before we head west of the Mississippi. They didn't want to, they were too tired at that point. I made them take pictures outside anyway.
I took the girls to the Museum of Natural history and visions of the first time I stood under the blue whale flooded back. I think I went there on school trip with my dad as a chaperon.
I was sure it would fall on me.
I made my family lay under it.
I remember climbing down a staircase with a wooden banister, but now the steps are carpeted. I think it was a safety thing, but I miss the pretty ones.
I tool the girls to the Statue of Liberty and I remembered climbing all those steps. When you look out from the pedestal we could see Staten Island and the Staten Island Ferry.
I also remember buying a miniature Statue, just like the one Maeve got.
(I also realize that I am a New Yorker because I hated driving in NJ. Whose idea was it to inhabit Hoboken anyway? It's a spit of sand between the city and mainland NJ. There's no room for anyone. )
All this to say, I hope that our trip imparted a little New York into my girls. I know it resurrected mine.
Today my DNA is a conundrum because we are headed West to Oklahoma. Far, far away from NYC.
It wasn't until this weekend that I realized how much I will miss it.