Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Our NYE NYC trip!

I'm pressing pause here to write a bit about our trip to NYC before our ordinary days pull me too far downstream. And that happens pretty quickly. In fact, I find that actual happenings in my life almost never get blogged. I write about thoughts mostly. Things I've learned. Things I'm mulling over. But those actual real life details are tough to make happen AND then also make happen on the blog. So here goes...


Paul surprised me on Christmas with an already set-up (I didn't have to worry about care for the kids or flights or hotel rooms) trip to NYC for New Year's Eve plus a few days which ended on my birthday (which he and my mother-in-law pre-planned as a day for Paul and I to enjoy at home alone). There is only 1 type of surprise I like and that's adventure surprises. I was so shocked and excited & I still am actually. Paul really went big this time.

I absolutely love how magical the new year feels.  NYE is my very favorite. I just love the promise of a new year. I love thinking back on all the things that happened in the year that's closing and all the things ahead that will happen-- some because I'll be hustling and working hard for them, and others because life surprises us in sprinkles and splashes.

And that timing of NYC + brand new year was the greatest aspect of this trip. For a dreamer and a planner like me, being in NYC at the very beginning of a new year was so extraordinarily special. Paul and I had time to reconnect and make memories together and enjoy each other before tackling another full year.  I spent time on the plane looking out at white puffs of clouds thinking about all things 2015--house improvements, hemophilia scares, homeschooling, and me leaning into my 30's...among many, many other things.  I spent time early in the morning at our hotel writing in my journal and listening to the city outside our window and thinking about 2016. In some ways, for my bigger yes. In others, in quiet awe of the things I just can't know about yet.

When we landed and got in a cab, the city was just starting to close streets for the NYE party down on Time Square (where our hotel was). So we climbed out of the cab right into thousands of people walking all over streets. Literally on the streets because there were several streets only open to foot traffic at that point. Pulling our luggage through the throngs of people from all over the world---that will always be one of my favorite travel memories ever. The energy was visceral. It was pulsing. And even though that was NYE and so it was amped up a bit, that's how NYC felt to me the whole time. Big. Exciting. Energetic. Electric.

I love traveling. I love going away and coming back, new. Changed. No one else can see it, but you know it like a tiny golden secret. Forever with a bit of your heart tattooed in the shape of a far away city. New York City surprised me. It didn't feel rude or pushy or overwhelming or snobby--not sure why that's what I expected. It felt like an open door. A happy place. A space for everyone. This was my favorite thing about the city. It's so special because of the nature of things, the history, the physical layout. It's welcoming more than anything else I can put to words. And once you're in, you feel absolutely alive!

Walking through Central Park. <swoon> How a park (in the dead of winter mind you) can be so wonderful, I just don't understand. Parks, the outdoors, places with trees...that's my thing. But I've never ever been to a space like Central Park. There is something truly special about it. I love how the skyscrapers line up like guardians on all sides of the park. I love how much people connect there. Runners. Bikers. Walkers. Tourists. Residents. Casual walkers. Loud talkers. Thinkers. Photo-takers. Coffee drinkers. Health nuts. Conversations over here and there and behind you and whizzing past you. Everywhere you look, there's more to see and take in. If you twisted my arm and asked me for the #1 thing you can't miss in NYC, I would say it's Central Park. I really hope we will get to take our kids there someday so I can share it with them too!

Something Paul and I have really loved when we've traveled is visiting with people we love who live nearby. It's such a great way to tie together the roots of our ordinary lives with the excitement of a new city. And once again, we were able to do that. Our friend, Amanda, (whose husband, Preston, works with Paul) was celebrating her 30th & they invited us to join for a big family style dinner with her long time friends (and no surprise she has lots--Amanda is the sweetest) and spouses / sig. others. That was such a fun night! It was our last night in the city and we partied accordingly. Paul said we got back to the hotel at 2:30 in the morning, so translated to mommy of three small children...that's like 8 in the morning.

Okay. Let me just throw out some other stuff we did really really quick because I'm losing you at this point...

+  9/11 Memorial -- Very moving. Must see. They've done a beautiful job.  It's very intimate and respectful and something that just needs to be visited. Also, the new Freedom Tower is so freakishly tall. I could not look up at it without getting dizzy. Do I sound like I'm from a small town or what?

+ Comedy Cellar -- Easily, easily most I've ever laughed in my life. Awesome well-known comedians. We got seated right in the front. This was something I wanted to do so badly, and I'm so glad I made sure we went.

+ Les Halles -- I wouldn't say I was blown away by the food in NYC like I was in Charleston, SC (the food there---life!), but I had a meal at Les Halles that was the most balanced, beautiful dish I think I've ever had. It was some sort of fish on a bed of ratatouille with lobster sauce.

+ Uber driver chats -- Thank goodness for Uber! Cheap, efficient way to get around the city. And I loved the conversations we had with the drivers... except the sexist Russian. That was awkward. (Paul kept me away from the subway, so I never got to see that pizza rat that went viral or undercover famous musicians dressed up like hobos that I'm just sure were down there waiting for me to spot them. I also didn't get interviewed by HONY, so you can really see how my NYC trip was far less than perfect. ;)

+ MOMA -- [Museum of Modern Art] -- I love a good art museum and this really had me feeling all the feels--and on the 1st day of the new year no less. Except for the super contemporary stuff. That had me feeling like a really confused 5th grader who wasn't paying attention in class and just got called on. There were a few pieces that Paul and I were just like "mmm, no" to. Paul loved the Picasso stuff. I loved all the stuff, even the stuff I scratched my head at. We both loved Pollock. I took a ton of photos for what reason I do not know. I think I got called a beach (alternate pronunciation) because I took too long staring at Starry Night which was much different than what I thought it would be.

+ Chelsea Market -- Foodie heaven! Lots and lots of shops that satisfy the appetite. I've never actually wished I would have overeaten except for when we left Chelsea Market...because there were just so many awesome things to try. We didn't overeat though at all. We ate a taco and a danish. First time I can say I felt like Scarlett O'Hara at the picnic undereating so as not to look like a pig. What a loss.

+ The High Line -- Elevated railway turned park. Pretty cool. Not a must see. Or, maybe a must see if you were there on a warmer day and/or you were also going to see the Whitney...which we would have totally done (yes, even though we had already spent two and a half hours at MOMA) if we would have had more time.

+ The NYE ball -- We didn't actually do the real deal down in Time Square squished in tight with people who keep bumping into me and I've been standing here for six hours but can't get to a bathroom so I just peed myself party, but it didn't matter much. We did hang out on the streets for a while. The ball was in sight from our hotel and it's really pretty in person (even though it looks really far away and just white in the photos) but then we mostly just had a blast partying out at the hotel bar and talking to people and feeling sorry for the suckers out on the streets. I passed out thirty minutes before the ball drop in true mom fashion of which Paul caught on camera and will never let me live down... as he shouldn't. Still so much fun!

+ Walking through the city -- It's the in between sometimes that sticks out in my mind most about travel.  When Paul and I walked through residential streets in Santa Barbara. When we walked an entire square around Charleston--whoops. And this time, when we walked in the cold and windy streets of NYC at night because I thought it would be a fun way to kill time before the comedy club and Paul and I had walked so much already we had to stop at a CVS and get him shoe inserts... it's that unexpected normal stuff that I love so much. It's not on the itinerary. It's just what happens and it's awesome. Especially when it's just walking through a city and feeling wonderfully out of place together.

+ Mass celebrated by Cardinal Dolan at St. Patrick's -- I didn't actually let tears fall from my face because I looked around and everyone else seemed to be playing it cool, but guys... it is just so beautiful there. The grandeur is just intense. I will always treasure that. I've always had these emotional pricks in the communion line shuffling up in humility and awe to Christ. Whether it be in the church I was raised in when I was younger or the church we go to now, toddler on hip and nudging Thomas forward, and all those we've been to in between. In those moments I'm thinking about how we are all welcome to walk forward and receive Christ. Sinners. Hopers. Those lost. Those hurt. Those happy. Those looking and longing. Those in need of daily bread. As I walk forward I have this massive (albeit temporary) ripping open in my heart thinking of people from all around the world walking forward, bringing what they have and what they need to that altar, to that reception. But to feel that communion in St. Patrick's. It just hit me so hard and I will never, ever so long as I live forget it. Also, I heart Cardinal Dolan.

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We are so grateful that our parents (both sets) have been generous and gracious with us, that they've watched our kids so that we could take trips away. We are excited to take lots of trips with the boys more and more as they get older. But this season the past couple years, post twins... I'll keep this discreet, but suffice it to say it is much needed and even more appreciated that our parents have helped us make special trips away happen so we can reconnect and feel grounded and make special memories together just the two of us.  It's a radical act to cut into life as a whole family and run off with your spouse, but I think it takes some radical acts sometimes to do what's right for your family and every family is so unique in what that looks like. This trip away blessed and reinvigorated our relationship so much. I'm deeply grateful.  I'm also glad to be back home amidst our ordinary days and doing all that normal work at home loving on these guys, making small things special right here  moment by moment and day by day.


  1. Ok, you know I love everything you write. But THIS one. This one made me cry. You have such a beautiful way with words Ash. "Especially when it's just walking through a city and feeling wonderfully out of place together." A way of putting the inner workings of everyone's head into words (or maybe it's just your head and mine.....). It's the stuff I find in really good novels from really good authors and I'm so in awe of it. I can't write it, but I can spot it.

    1. You either give me far too much credit or we really are thinking the same things and feelings the same feels. Writing is such a labor for me and I always worry about saying the wrong thing or being misunderstood. It's so nice to hear that someone totally gets exactly what I said. Thank you! It's a wild feeling to be stripped away from everything familiar except for your spouse walking next to you!

  2. Like reading Tolstoy or Undset and wondering "How on earth did they just describe that emotion using words??" I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.

  3. I'm with Kaitlin, little teary over here too. You really have a beautiful mind. And this makes me long for a weekend away with Dave, somewhere just because, not for work or to see anybody. Maybe when the current baby is more night stable...