New York, New York, It’s a Heck of a Town

I started a tradition in my family: whenever my nieces/nephew turn 16, we go on a trip together in the summer. Chantel and I spent a long weekend in Virginia Beach a few years ago, and we had a blast.

Now it’s Aimee’s turn – Chantel’s younger sister.

She chose New York City. Aimee had never been to a big city before. I bought train tickets and booked a hotel room – and in a few hours, we’re off on an adventure!

My first trip to New York was a couple of years ago before Christmas. I heard about a tour bus company that would drive us there overnight and drop us off at Macy’s on 34th Street around 10am. We had the entire day to do whatever we wanted, as long as we were back on the bus at 11pm. We’d get back home around lunchtime on Sunday. It was the perfect weekend getaway.

My husband completely freaked out about me going into the city alone, so I managed to convince my best friend from high school and her wife to accompany me. My best friend also lived in New York for a summer in college, so she had a decent idea of where things were and how to get around on the subway.

When we arrived in the city, it was like a movie: as soon as we entered the Lincoln Tunnel, the bus began blasting “New York State of Mind” by Jay-Z.

I was not prepared for New York: I’ve done Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Stockholm, Paris, Berlin – but New York was an entirely new animal all together. As we walked to Central Park, I found myself homesick for London and I had no idea New York was so dirty, compared to a cleaner city like Chicago or Berlin. The constant noise and movement were not conducive to my empath ways, and I was thankful I wouldn’t be there too long.

We spent the rest of the morning at the Guggenheim and had lunch at its cafe: $130 for the three of us and no alcohol was ordered. Again, I wasn’t prepared for New York. We went down to the Battery, experienced the Seaglass Carousel, rode the Staten Island Ferry at sunset, and zipped back on the subway to Times Square. As I stepped out of the subway and into the luminous flashy and glittering bright lights, I was stunned. This was incredible. I was not expencting this.

We had dinner at an unknown midtown Italian place, as we met up with some of my friend’s city friends. Great food and a good time by all.

As we drove out of the metropolitan area, I was also taken aback by how many people were homeless. It was staggering.

I have mixed emotions about returning to New York. The adventurist in me is super excited to go exploring with someone new to city life; I’m also a bit concerned – perhaps it’s just my anxiety – about staying safe and those unexpected travel mishaps. I can’t bring mace on the train. I called the hotel to check my reservation and it was under my niece’s name.

I’m ready to get out of town and experience something different. And best of all, I think I found a fellow adventurer in my niece.


I met Ruth when I accidentally showed up at the wrong college ministry freshman year (I ended up staying). We looked alike, too, which sometimes caused people to mistake us for sisters. We always found this hilarious.

In college we hung out a bit – the occasional coffee or swimming at the indoor pool in the university recreation center. We’d tread water in the deep end and chat.

Ruth was my polar opposite back then: in my days of too many boys and too much alcohol, she was on the straight and narrow. She would have been aghast that I would ever entertain the thought of getting drunk or was not a virgin – so I just left out those parts of my life.

Nonetheless, we found common ground, and the many memories of this college Bible group have Ruth in them and we stayed close. One night, she was discussing how after graduation she was going to live with her brother for several months who was living in Europe. I was jealous of her upcoming adventure, not to mention I had a slight crush on her gorgeous older brother. And that’s when she said it:

“You should come for a visit!” Oh my goodness, that was too good to pass up!

The three of us spent a week traveling around England with no particular plan, just wherever the trains happened to take us that morning. I loved it!

This trip cemented our status as lifelong friends, in what was supposed to be a friendship that faded away with college life. Ruth became one of my closest confidants in my adult life. The days of editing my life for her ears had long since passed. She knew everything. In time we had grown up: I cleaned up my act and Ruth realized the world was not as black and white as she thought it to be.

We kept each other in the loop about our various romantic escapades, struggles, and joys – as singles and as wives. We also shared the hardship of infertility. Our stories were night and day different, but both of our homes remained silent without children.

A few years ago, we decided to restart our adventures by meeting halfway between our homes, as we live quite a distance apart. Our adventures have spanned a near-death experience in West Virginian mountains and backpacking cities. We try to meet up at least once a year and do something fun: it’s usually outdoors, involves a glass of wine, a tourist stop, and deep conversations.

A friend like Ruth is one of those rare gems – I think of her more as a sister. Her intelligence, character, and love of God have not only inspired me but buoyed me through some really hard times, as well as contributed to the good times. I know I can call her at any time to tell her anything, and she will always be gentle and listen. She doesn’t judge, yet she’ll call a spade a spade when it needs to be said. I am so grateful for her honesty and her 24 karat persona.

I’m excited to see where the Lord is going to lead Ruth. She made the decision to leave her abusive marriage after many failed attempts to fix it. Now that she is free from that burden, I know she will blossom, like the tree by the water in Jeremiah 17:7-8.

….and I can’t wait for our next adventure!