below i've shared what came to me when i read the prompt:
"you have a plane ticket to anywhere"
i had so many initial thoughts. but i didn't focus on anything particular. i just wrote. here it goes::
a plane ticket to anywhere:
in one hand i hold a plane ticket. in the other- a list of places to go. my eyes want to see the world. my feet want to feel the roads of every nation. my skin wants to absorb the sun from every side of the globe. i often dream of paris. and ireland. and italy. and madrid. i fantasize about hawaiian beaches. and the taj mahal. and big ben. but today, i will board a plane to new york city, because i don't want an adventure. i just want comfort.
in the grand spectrum, i have been very few places in my life. so to say i already know my favorite would be a gross disservice to myself. however, i can say with confidence that i adore new york city. my trip there on august 11, 2001 (exactly one month prior to the 9/11 tragedy) was the first real adventure of my life. you never know what to expect when you're going to a brand new place. and while i was unsure of what i would find there, i was thrilled to have the opportunity to see this famous city. my friends and i stayed with a contact on staten island-- so we had to take the train to the ferry dock, and then, the ferry to the mainland. once the ferry was anchored, we exited the boat and went immediately underground to the subway station. i road with anticipation::: our destination was times square. as i climbed the stairs out of the underground mayhem and into the city, i could feel the energy building. when the sunlight hit my face, i squinted, and then::: the whole city came into view. huge billboards a block long. flashing lights. 1,000's of people. bright yellow taxis. a man with a garbage bag full of knock-off sunglasses. the smell of hotdogs and hot almonds. a thin cloud of sewer steam drifting at my feet. i was snapping pictures as fast as my little disposable camera could wind. it was an instant connection. i fit here.
i returned to new york many times after that. in summer. in winter at christmas time. in the fall. each time discovering a different side of the city that i loved. seeing something i hadn't seen in previous visits. re-acquainting myself with old haunts.
and it is here that i return with my plane ticket. i'll stay three nights, maybe. contact annie at that awesome bed & coffee in the east village. see if she has a room to spare. buy a metro pass. i'll wake up in the morning and escape to the buzzing streets. stopping for a croissant and cup of joe. walking slow. watching. observing. taking pictures. taking it all in. there won't be any agenda. just me and my city and whatever it wants to bring me. a trip to central park, perhaps. there's always an empty bench there, and i always have a book to read. maybe i'll go to the metropolitan museum of art. or the guggenheim. or the immaculate public library. i can sneak into a small theater. catch an indie film. buy lunch from the street vendors. ogle in the window at tiffany's. i could walk the blocks until i find the cathedral i love. the one where i always enter and light a candle. dropping all my loose change into the gold canister that sits by the tiny flames. when dinner rolls around, i can head back to alphabet city. eat at a hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurant. something middle eastern. or indian. sitting at a small, unsteady table outside. letting the breeze blow the edge of the napkin that's tucked under my plate. i can end the evening wandering till i find a live band. and i can sit and listen till the wee hours- when i return again to my little room at annie's to rest up for the next day.
nyc is no longer about adventure for me. it's about being in a place that both calms and energizes you. it's about taking in new people. new places. new things. and continuing to love the old ones. it's learning to slow down, even when everything around you is so fast paced. it's about feeling alive. and more importantly::: living.