Last week I mentioned my first trip to New York when I traveled with my friends Mark and Ashley for the weekend. Every other time I have been with Bill and some of our favorite memories were made in New York.
We first visited together the Thanksgiving after we graduated from Baylor. Two of our dear friends from college, Jeff and Becca Chance, were living in the city and invited several new Baylor grads who were living on the East Coast to come celebrate Thanksgiving in New York. Bill flew to D.C. from Minneapolis (where he was working) and we took the train up from D.C., where I was working. Mark was there with me again as he was at Yale, Pamela was at UVA, Donnie Willett (now on the Texas Supreme Court) was at Duke.
After we arrived we all met up and roamed through the area where the parade balloons were “lined up” ready for the next day (yes, I think this is may have been where the balloon handler dream all began). As we walked through the area, snowflakes began to fall and I remember watching a vendor “roasting chestnuts on an open fire” and thinking that it was about as close to a perfect night as I could imagine. We went inside a little diner and had hot chocolate, we were with friends, we were head over heels in love, we were in New York and it was snowing while a man cooked chestnuts over an open fire. Kind of made you want to pinch yourself.
We got up early on Thanksgiving Day and went to the parade and it was STILL snowing!!! I know I keep saying I feel like I’m in a movie sometimes, but seriously … it was like a movie. After the parade we went to Jeff and Becca’s church for our Thanksgiving meal. We ate in the fellowship hall and we were together with the pastors of the church and the people from the congregation who seemed to not have anywhere else to go. It is very hard to explain, but it felt like right then the church was doing exactly what the church was made to do. It was the most meaningful meal I’ve ever had in New York. Here we were, fresh out of college and we really didn’t have the money to eat anywhere else that day. But honestly, I don’t think anywhere else could have matched that meal. We were hungry and they fed us, we were tired and they gave us a place to sit. They loved us and welcomed us. It gave me such an appreciation for having a place to go and a compassion for those who don’t. I so wish I could explain it better.
The next morning we saw the Rockettes show for the first time. I loved seeing them but when they got to the living nativity and the animals walked across the stage?!? It was spectacular. It was moving. I had no idea the message of Christ’s birth was so strongly shared to literally thousands and thousands of people … I was blown away.
The whole weekend was incredible. Perfect. And it ended as wonderfully as it had started. Bill and I had just a second before we had to catch the train but we really wanted to ice skate at Rockefeller Center. We realized, in line, that we weren’t going to have enough time to skate. Bill and I both thought we were going to have to leave as the session was almost over and staying for the next session wouldn’t allow us enough time to catch our train. They told us we could skate the last few minutes of the session because a few people left. They left because there were maybe ten minutes left to skate. We figured it out and we spent something like $7 a minute to skate. TOTALLY WORTH EVERY PENNY.
I vividly remember skating to one of Amy Grant’s Christmas songs and again thinking … this has got to be about as good as it gets. It was honestly THRILLING to hear that music piped SO loudly while we skated underneath the tree. You might have had to be there, but it’s one of my favorite memories of my life. One of those moments where you say to yourself … “I think this might be as happy as you can get”.
Several years later I was working in Nashville and the company I worked for had a penthouse SUITE in the financial district. You could see the Statue of Liberty from it and staying in it made me feel like I was running things for Donald Trump or something. Bill joined me up there a time or two and once one of the Hilltop Honeys (Debra Rountree) and her husband met us and spent the weekend at the suite. TO THIS DAY we laugh about how Mark had a terrible cold and kept moaning that his “coat was too heavy” when he walked. Don’t be confused … it wasn’t keeping him too warm, he just felt so bad that it felt like a burden to walk around wearing it.
We each bought an ornament of a New York taxicab with a Christmas tree on top in Grand Central Station and we’d typically call each other during the holidays to say how much we loved looking at the ornament and remembering how much fun we had on that trip to New York at Christmastime. All that came to a crashing halt a few years ago when some bugs decided to EAT my treasure in the attic. I was kinda crushed but Mark got us a replacement the following year.
Which is good because I really must laugh about his heavy coat at least once a year.
It’s a tradition.
On that trip Bill and I somehow, without reservations, got into the Crystal Room at Tavern on the Green (this was the early 90’s so it was in it’s heyday). It was probably the most expensive meal we’d ever had together but we loved it. The Christmas decorations were spectacular and it got dark as we ate making everything even more magical.
Later we went with Mark and Debra to have cheesecake at The Plaza (even though Mark should have been in bed!). Not sure what we laughed about, but I remember laughing. Now that I think about it, we were probably laughing at Mark. And his coat.
Two years ago (when Caroline’s dream of going to New York began), I accompanied Bill on a trip to NYC in November. They were just putting up all the Christmas decorations and the excitement was in the air.
While Bill worked I went and watched the “Live with Regis and Kelly” show being taped … which was fun even though I had to get up at 6:30 in the morning. The woman sitting next to me won a prize so I know … for a second anyway, I got on TV. Regis cracks me up and I always wanted to be his sidekick. Fifteen minutes everyday to tell funny stories about what happened the day before?!? DREAM JOB.
I also wanted Katie Couric’s job. I started out as a Radio/TV major and did internships at the BBC and NBC in London and stations in Little Rock and Dallas. When I found out you had to live in a small town and work your way up … and I knew Bill wasn’t headed to any small towns … well, I changed my dream.
But I still love TV and went with Bill on that trip to do the whole … “stand in front of the Today Show window and wave” thing. It just so happened that I was standing next to some UVA graduates who were Tri Delts there.
Now I was a Chi Omega at Baylor, but when Katie Couric came out and talked to those ladies because they held up little Delta signs with their fingers … well I held up a Delta sign too. I never lied. I just made a triangle with my fingers which doesn’t break any kind of Chi Omega rule that I know of … and it got Bill and I invited onto the studio set. She asked me when I graduated and I said “1989”. I just didn’t mention that it was from BAYLOR.
That is totally not lying.
(I’d show you my picture with her, but that would take more effort than I’m willing to expend at this late hour to try and learn how to scan a picture … but one of these days I might just do it. Anyway … had a nice visit with Katie and I laughed for days about my Tri Delt charade.
In fact I still laugh about it. It’s funny.
One thing I loved about that trip was that Bill and I didn’t feel any pressure to go and do anything. We were training for the 1/2 marathon (THE ONE HE FORGOT TO TELL ME WAS 13.1 MILES – totally a story for another day) so we spent the morning running through Central Park. The leaves were changing, it was cool and crisp … and pretty much I felt like a New Yorker. I ran in Central Park and hung out with Katie Couric. That’s totally a New Yorker thing to do, dontchathink?
Anyway … after our run we got ready for the day and went back to Central Park. We tried to get into Tavern on the Green again (just for dessert) but they would hear nothing of it.
We were a little dejected but thought it would be fun to rent a boat and row on the pond in Central Park. I thought it was VERY romantic. Boat with oars, cute guy rowing.
I looked over and saw another “in love” couple doing the same thing. Except in that boat I noticed that the guy was reading to the girl what I assumed was poetry. I said “OH my gosh … how awesome is that?!?” and Bill (not to be outdone in the romantic department) said … “I’ll quote you poetry”.
And he began.
Using his best Martin Luther King deep baritone, he proclaimed …
“YEA THOU I WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH…”.
I almost fell out of the boat I was laughing so hard.
I wanted poetry and he’s quoting me the 23rd Psalm … about the “shadow of death”!?!
He (correctly) told me it was the poetry of David and that was legitimate poetry (which, by the way, Caroline pointed out to him was also so old it is now called SCRIPTURE).
Don’t get me wrong … it was sweet. He tried. And nothing wrong with Scripture … I was just thinking more along the lines of Robert Browning “how do I love thee, let me count thy ways”.
Every now and then Bill will pull that preacher voice out of hiding and start out with the 23rd Psalm and I will bust out laughing … every. single. time.
And so why did I take you down this (very long!!) trip down memory lane? Well, my intention was to tell you that we spent the better part of the next two days showing Caroline the places that were special to us. Telling her the stories of things we had done, where we had stayed, people with whom we had shared memories.
And we made some new memories of our own.
And I intended on telling about these new memories but I have now absolutely exhausted myself … and I’m pretty sure I’ve exhausted you too (hellooo…anyone still out there…?!?) with these tales of long, long ago.
The memories will have to wait until tomorrow.
This memory maker has 3 school Christmas parties to prepare for tomorrow, 4 children to wake up in just a few hours.
In case you are wondering, I’m planning on sleeping next week!