Tuesday, September 09, 2014

city girl no more

Continuing my country mouse, city mouse theme ...

I have lived at least half of my life in cities. Big ones. But I am finally learning that you can take the girl out of the country (or away from the beach), but you can't take the beach out of the girl.

As we planned our recent summer vacation to the Jersey Shore I had fully intended to spend a few hours in New York, either on the way in, or the way out, or both. But on our ride out from the airport, it quickly became clear that wasn't going to happen. Not only did it take forever to get the rental car and get the hell out of town (note to self — when going to Jersey, never fly into to La Guardia again), but that trip through town was more than enough of a taste of New York for me and my daughter.

The best thing about flying into LaGuardia is definitely the view

It's amazing how quickly the hectic pace can get under your skin. The traffic was (not surprisingly) horrendous, but it also gave me the opportunity to stop and gawk like a tourist and see what had changed. Driving through midtown we got some fabulous views of the Empire State Building. And also of Times Square. I have spent some time in New York since last I lived there — we spent Thanksgiving in midtown about five years ago — but this time all of the Blade Runner-esque video screens really made me feel like I was in the middle of some hectic soda commercial. Not a feeling I am really looking to experience.

Approaching the Empire State Building

Stuck in traffic, below - but we got a great shot

Our relaxed time at the beach was so wonderful that I couldn't even imagine cutting it short to battle for a few hours with the crowds and pace of the city. The drive back confirmed that feeling. Our rental car, which had behaved perfectly for ten days while I tooled up and down the Jersey Shore, to Long Beach Island and back again, started to give me an error message and red overheating signal as we idled in blistering midtown traffic. It was like a scene from a movie, with a red bar increasing on the control panel and the countdown to the shutting down of the car in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ...

I turned the whole car off, and luckily, a traffic cop had us sit through two lights while he allowed pedestrians to navigate Times Square. When he finally motioned us forward, I tentatively started up the engine and the red signal was, thankfully, gone. We made it safely to the airport, although it was a nerve-racking drive, and reported the mishap. Freak occurrence? Omen? I'm not sure.

Will I ever vacation in New York again? I'm sure I will. But I definitely got the message loud and clear as to what I want from my life (and maybe always have). A more relaxed pace. Near the water. And with as few red signals and dramatic countdowns as possible.


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