If I Can Make It There, I Can Make It Anywhere

IMG_4114So what I was saying is that we all need a push sometimes. We become oh so comfortable in our cocoons, our safe spaces, not even realizing the fibrous material has become part of our skin. As we get older, this safe second skin becomes thicker and less noticeable. It’s just there, keeping us comfy, 24/7.

Take, for instance, my family’s weekend trip to NYC this past Saturday and Sunday. In all honesty, as my husband knows because of my silence on the topic of NYC whenever it came up, I was not looking forward to the trip. First of all, we just had two days and one night, and I knew my husband, who is from upstate NY, had a big agenda. A lot of neighborhoods and sites were mentioned in his daydreaming about how this weekend might go. When he’d say “take the subway from Brooklyn to Manhattan and back,” “visit Staten Island,” “go up the Empire State Building,” “have dinner in the ‘Indian restaurant’ district,” what I mostly heard was “Wow. This sounds like a lot, like a weekend Olympics of sightseeing.” In fact, the main reason we were going up there from Maryland, a four-hour drive, was to see a dance performance at Columbia University in Harlem. And to squeeze in a visit with my cousin, Douglas.

You could say, we had a different perspective of a quick weekend getaway.

I wasn’t always like this, mind you. In fact, I felt old just thinking about such an excursion, like a 90-year-old woman. But we have a six-year-old boy who comes along on pretty much every vacation, no matter how long or far. And I don’t know about you, but I am just not that mom, that super hero Mother with endless energy, who enjoys hopping from one planned moment to the next or who relishes the thought of roaming the streets of NYC with a young child.

But we went. We saw. We conquered-ish. We did as many of the things as possible. And some of it was wonderful, like walking into a subway station platform as if we had landed on the set of the latest film (insert any that take place in NYC).  Where, smack dab in the center of things was a man playing something like Bach on a big, beautiful cello. I was expecting a cameraman to pop up behind us at any moment. And then, there were the street performers, like the small boy who was break dancing with a group of older break dancers. Micheal Jackson, MTV, 1980’s style.

We bounced from one trendy part of Brooklyn to another, from the Financial District where we passed the World Trade Center Memorial, to 42nd St. and 5th Avenue, scoping out Rockefeller Center and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. Grabbing lamb gyros and falafels from a friendly guy in a food truck along the way.

There were juxtapositions everywhere. In Harlem, we brushed elbows with what looked like recent Columbia University graduates and their sophisticated, affluent parents. In Manhattan, we sat on the city library steps while a homeless man slept near us and a young bride and groom walked the city streets in full-on gown and tux. In Brooklyn, we ate at a cozy diner and walked by a brownstone-lined street as families played with their children at the school playground.
New York. In a nutshell. In fewer than 48 hours.

What I learned on this trip is how totally difficult the mother in me can be. How completely obsessed with washing hands. How frazzled her nerves are trying to keep up with a little boy as he leaps happily alongside dancing traffic.

I learned how much I love the quiet of my house. I mean, really, really love the quiet purity of it. I love my polished light oak floors, the bright gray walls, the shiny granite counters in the kitchen. I love the light coming in all the windows of the main floor. Our minimalist sense of decorating – with a few paintings and photos scattered here and there. I love the Southwest vibe of the master bedroom.

I love all these things so much more than any lively street in New York City, no matter how colorful or interesting. I love my small town where I can roam our tiny city streets with women sporting short hairdos and tattoos instead of the glamorous women carrying fancy handbags and asymmetrical rain jackets, each with hair down to the middle of their back. In fact, I haven’t seen a place with so much long hair and so many big, Hollywood style sunglasses as I have in NYC.

I learned that yes, I do prefer the safety of my cocoon, my nest. I prefer the predictable, the quiet, the slow. But I am glad I can still say yes to things outside of my comfort zone. If I can make it out of that, I can make it anywhere.

 

 

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It took me a long while to consider the title for this blog. I wanted something that defined me both as a person and a writer. A name that would also perhaps speak to a particular audience. Why “The Astronaut Wife?” Since my early days of blogging, I have leaned toward more of a confessional style of writing, to some degree. I write as much truth as I can muster at each phase of life. In addition, I also come from a conservative Southern family, and I have grown very far from those roots. You could say I have rocketed to the moon in terms of my upbringing. I have rocketed away from debilitating family dynamics, from worldviews that held me beneath a rock. In my thirties, and now my early to mid-forties, I have learned to live more comfortably with both sides of the moon and write just as much about the raw, dark places as the light ones. Don’t quote me on that, though. It’s quite likely I will lean more heavily toward one or the other depending on which way the wind is blowing. Then, we get to the wife part, and quite frankly, this is where the feminist in me bucked and brayed. Identifying myself as “wife” has felt simply stymieing, particularly since becoming a mother six and a half years ago. But if the truth is going to be told, being a wife to my particular husband has altered my entire shape and has given voice to much of the inner deep. So in fact, becoming a wife was the singular most life-changing moment for me in my journey to the moon and back. Fellow travelers, you can feel safe and comfortable here. What matters more than what you might “get” about me is what you might take for yourself.

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