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Where She Belonged

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WingWM

The turbulence made the plane’s wings seesaw drunkenly upon landing in Newark. Even the weather knew something different was blowing into town.

She was so very frightened to return to this place that hadn’t been kind to her. It was a good thing she’d left before the damage was irreparable. Otherwise, it may have been impossible for the South to heal those broken emotional bones.

Now that she was returned and seated in the car they’d hired to bring her to the office, she took in the familiar vibe. Urban sprawl. Frigid winds that viciously stole her breath. Aggressive traffic. She remembered this unsettling feeling that she was conspicuous – a shock of red amidst endless grey.

Would anyone see a difference in her? Did they even remember her after a year away? Would they think she’d lost her edge?

Suddenly very unsure, she took evaluation of the ensemble she’d carefully chosen. The vivid turquoise wrap dress, sheer tights and nude patent pumps were purposefully a far cry from her typical grey shirt/black pants work ensemble. The severe blond bun had been replaced with long, loosely flowing strands of red. Where her tall frame was previously starved for nourishment it was now vital, strong and feminine. At least there was that.

dressyWM

Entering the office, conversations halted when she walked past. Whispers followed her strides as if they’d seen a ghost. In truth, they had. And that morning, her smile grew exponentially with each joyful exclamation of recognition, each hug received and each stunned remark about her appearance. Most couldn’t quite put their finger on it. Those who knew her best used the words, “bright”, “alive”, “glowing” and “radiant”.

They got it. They saw it.

It wasn’t the clothes or the hair color. She was different.

The job was executed with her usual style of fiery panache, making easy the complicated and making organized the complex. Confidence and self-assurance leapt from her every action and statement. She didn’t just complete the assignment. She soared.

When the big meeting ended, she needed a respite from the emotions stomping over one other in her mind. She waved to the still-familiar doormen on the way out of the building, then made her way to the railing at the water. And standing there, cursing the freezing wind, she finally let her mind relax and inhaled a breath of cold that made her lungs tingle in protest.

Freedom2WM

Everything was so different, but yet so much was still the same here. Most of all, she was so relieved to discover that her fears had been unfounded. Her coworkers had certainly missed her, based on the office buzz and number of baby pictures her male coworkers proudly offered for oohing and ahhhing.  She definitely didn’t miss these bitter temps or this frantic pace of life, but at least no one could possibly question her professional achievements after today. If anything, they’d say she’s better than she used to be. And the reason was simple: She left this place. This brave new woman that everyone wanted to see, talk to, and be around? She wouldn’t be this person if she still lived here. That same woman lifted her face, gazed at the Freedom Tower and told herself that it’s okay to miss the people and not miss the place. After all, she’d found her self, her happy, her dreams and her future in a place that had nothing to do with subways and snowstorms.

Her lips curved into a secretive smile. She’d do what she needed to do while she was here, and she’d do it more than well. But she couldn’t wait to go home.

And with that last thought, any lingering doubts of where she belonged sailed off with that icy wind over the Hudson. With one last glance at that magnificent view, she turned on one of those pretty heels and headed towards the building entrance.

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Linking up with the fantastic crew over at Yeah Write.

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New York – A Love Letter in Photos.

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New York, I love so much about you.  But it’s not just your big-ticket attractions. What I love most is what’s in the details of you.

It’s standing practically underneath the most famous Christmas tree, and delighting at the little fearless finch on the angel branches.

birdyWM

hello, friend.

It’s finding someone’s wish to become a broadway singer written on a piece of confetti that landed in a planter.

I found in a plant, a wish written on confetti: Diventare una cantane di Musical a Broadway (become a singer in a Broadway musical).

It’s realizing that angels do exist.

Angels exist.

It’s snickering like a 12 year old about Big Balls.

Balls. Big Balls.

1251 6th Ave, Radio City Music Hall

It’s standing high above so much, and feeling so small.

Meet me downtown for a few. Brooklyn.

Brooklyn.

It’s turning around and going, “Whoa. What bridge is that?!”

Queensboro Bridge view from the Serendipity front door.

Queensboro Bridge view from the Serendipity front door.  East 60th St

It’s falling in love with a perfect reflection in a restaurant door.

Iris Cafe, Brooklyn. Stumptown coffee, in NYC? Yes, please.

Stumptown coffee, in NYC? Yes, please. Iris Cafe, Brooklyn

It is perfection in a slice.

real. New. York. pizza.

REAL. NEW. YORK. PIZZA.

It is the timeless and detailed wrought iron entryways…next door to a tourist hot-spot.

wrought iron meets Serendipity

It’s lifting your head into the cold wind and seeing the Empire State Building for the first time.

first sighting of the Empire State Building

It’s not wanting to stop and be THAT tourist, so you wind up with a wonderfully dizzying shot.

as dizzying a picture as the NY experience

It’s spotting the morning-after evidence.

Jan 1, 2013. Morning-after confetti.

Jan 1, 2013.

It’s being determined to eat REAL ramen, the REAL way.

I ate my ramen like a big girl - with chopsticks.

I ate my ramen like a big girl – with chopsticks.

It’s not being above taking a classic NYC shot.

Classic shot with the cabs.

It’s accepting that sometimes your best pictures might be taken with your iPhone.

Best shot I took of Rockefeller Plaza, and it was with my iPhone.

It’s shopping decadence, mixed with vendors, mixed with traffic, mixed with architecture and light.

Shopping. Traffic. Vendors. J.Crew, Soho.

J.Crew, Soho.

It’s about indulgence amidst frenzy.

Bliss, Soho. Best massage I've had in years.

Best massage I’ve had in years. Bliss, Soho.

It’s about wondering why the hell they have these steam stacks in the middle of a street lane and then spotting your favorite building between them.

Steam stacks and Chrysler Building

Chrysler Building.

It’s being alone in a subway car late at night, smiling, knowing that right at this moment you are happy.

Reminiscing on a late-night subway ride

It’s hearing the languages of dozens of countries within one square block.

tourists crowd the mezzanine over the Rock Center ice skating rink

tourists crowd the mezzanine over the Rock Center ice skating rink

It’s knowing that you made the right choice in your New Year’s Eve plans.

Straight ahead? That's where the ball dropped.

Straight ahead? That’s where the ball dropped. I was running a 5K instead.

It’s being more entranced by architecture and scope and design than the blue LED-lit Christmas tree.

never forget to look up.

never forget to look up.

It’s greeting a new day from a new place.

Sunrise view, from a couch in Brooklyn

Sunrise view in Brooklyn

It’s the biting wind coming off the water, making your eyes tear and your nose run, yet you take the shot because there is just so much right in it.

Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 6

Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 6

It’s the City of Lights, making bright even the most harsh of barricades.

leftover New Year's Eve barriers

leftover New Year’s Eve barriers

It’s seeing a movie reproduction of a Broadway show in a theater where Broadway shows were once performed.

Ziegfeld Theater

Ziegfeld Theater

It’s respect for putting a modern spin on an old favorite.

Seen from High Line, Brooklyn

High Line, Chelsea

It’s appreciation of scale and balance and whimsy.

High Line, Brooklyn

High Line, Chelsea

New York is just so much to take in. It is too much, yet it is everything. I long for better photographic equipment, so that I could have captured everything even more perfectly. But even then, I’m not sure capturing the verve of this great city is an attainable achievement. New York is felt as much as it is seen.

New York? I love you. Don’t ever change.

Until next time,
Peach

Mighty Peach Life List #58, #10 – Twinkly Lights and Serendipity…DONE!

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Back story to these life list items can be found here.

————————————————————–

On January 1, 2013, I awoke in darkness and stretched until my feet hit the end of my friend’s couch. Shoving the sleep mask up my forehead to push the bangs off my face, I squinted at the blinding winter sun and smiled simultaneously. I was looking over the rooftops of downtown Brooklyn prominently displayed through the windowed walls of the apartment. And then it hit me…Today was the day!

My lovely hostess and dear friend Might-E emerged from her room, came over to the couch and sat down next to me. She handed me a gift-wrapped package and said that she knew this would be perfect. For today.  For this year.  You see, Might-E has been one of my biggest sources of support since we met, but especially this year. She’s been there for me as I’ve tackled many tough changes in my life and cheered for me as I’ve gone after my dreams. I count myself lucky to have her as a friend. But hugged her HARD after I opened this.

mightyWM

perfect, right?

After I’d pulled my sentimental/sniffly self together, we hit the ground running for our Big Day. During the subway jaunt over to Manhattan, we fretted over whether or not we’d be waiting for hours to get into Serendipity. The New Years Day crowd could go either way.

door1

door2

Boy, did we get lucky! We only waited 20 minutes for a cute little two-top on the main floor.

tiffanyWM

Loving the Tiffany lamps. Not so sure about Banana Hammock Guy back there.

Might-E and I delighted over the quirky, larger-than-life menu (seriously, they were bigger than the surface of our table).

menu2WM

But of course, we already knew what we’d come for. We put in the order for my long-awaited Frozen Hot Chocolate immediately. Life is short, dammit. Everyone should eat dessert first.

menu1WM

And then it arrived.

isn't it lovely?

isn’t it lovely?

gimme.

gimme.

oh, this will be finished.

oh, this *will* be finished.

Yes, I gave myself brain-freeze on this baby, which means that I did it right. The word on the street is that the FHC recipe consists of: Seventeen different types of chocolate, blended with milk and ice. So sayeth the server. All I know is that each sip through the straw tasted like a mouthparty of chocolate sin. May everything in this life be that delectably painful to finish. It was worth the wait and worth every calorie.

And then, with seventeen-types-of-chocolate-sugar coursing through our veins, it was time to journey to Rockefeller Plaza.

From the moment we left the subway stairs, we could feel the buzz on the street. There’s just something about that area of NYC, around 5th Ave with all the stores and TV studios and street vendors… it’s a living, breathing creature filled with bodies and shopping bags and picture-taking. Dozens of different languages are audible no matter where you stand, but the joy on people’s faces matched my own.

RockWM

first sighting

Rock2WM

Swarovski replica of the tree topper.

Swarovski replica of the tree topper.

I doubt any pictures could ever do this memory justice, but I know I’ll never forget what it felt like to lean on that railing and gaze over the ice skating rink filled with wobbly tourists. Even on that overcast day, the tree sparkled and shone proudly, despite the few limbs that were a bit droopy.  Hey, I can’t blame the tree. It’s New York. Living here can be exhausting.

rinkWM

I’m sure I didn’t stand there longer than a few minutes, but it was long enough to realize that I was grinning like an idiot. Putting these emotions into words is difficult, but I can only compare it to the moment when the holidays start to really feel like the holidays. It’s that moment of recognition in your heart. That deep down, ahh. There it is. I was finally here.

We walked even closer and realized the full expanse of the tree’s formidable height when we were directly underneath its branches.

checkWM

Peach-approved.

And with one last upward glance, I said a silent goodbye and we took our leave.

gaze2WM

Thank you to Bing and Go Mighty for giving me the opportunity to check off these life wishes!!

I’m still smiling.

Mighty Peach Life List #58 and #10 – Twinkly Lights and Serendipity

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When people ask me if I’ve ever lived in New York, I have to admit, “I’ve never lived in New York, but I lived in Jersey for six years.” That statement is usually met with pursed lips, a brief nod, and a pitying “hmmm.”  Jersey just isn’t the same. It’s not better or worse, save Snooki and The Situation, but it’s not New York City.

US-CULTURE-CHRISTMAS-ROCKEFELLER-TREE

During my time in Jersey, I adjusted to the frantically-paced lifestyle and the “kill or be killed” driving mentality. I gave in to the reality that rats were fair roadkill game and that the enormous potholes could swallow a small child. But you don’t brag about those things to visiting family who can’t believe you moved to Jersey in the first place. Instead, I used their trips north to tackle big ticket NYC items and relished being a wide-eyed tourist with them. A few friends from college lived there too, and through them I experienced the lesser-hyped NYC phenomena. I danced on the bar at the real Coyote Ugly, saw operas at the Met, got lost wandering Central Park, and threw my 30th birthday bash at a bar on 8th Ave.

After six years, leaving Jersey wasn’t tough. I learned so much about myself, and I’d never trade my time there for anything, but it was time to go home. Now that I’ve been back in Atlanta for a year, I’ve realized I regret not doing a few things before I left.

With Christmas around the corner, I’m especially bummed that I never saw the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. When I tried to rally my native Jersey friends to go back then, they made the tree lighting ceremony sound like the worst of horrors—a crush of holiday-frazzled humanity who made it impossible to be near the tree at the magical moment. The big day always came and went, and in the holiday-filled weeks afterward my excuse was that I was too busy. “I’ll go next year,” I said. But I never did. Then I moved. Onto the Mighty Peach Life List it went.

This year, the folks at Bing told me to pack my fanciest Santa hat, my camera, and my walking boots, because they are sending me to New York to gaze lovingly at my tree. Bonus? I’ll get to check off #10 on my Life List—have a frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity! I’m counting the days and plotting what other trouble I can get into while I’m there.

I’ll report back when I return, but until then, tell me: What are your favorite NYC must-do and must-sees?