My First Trip to NYC (3rd 1st)
The first time I visited New York City, I forgot about the Statue of Liberty.
A carfull of friends decided to drive from our beach house in Ocean City, NJ to NYC. We were there as part of a summer program of learning, fellowship, and discipleship. A bunch of college students from different schools, learning to live, play, work, cook, eat, pray, worship, and study together. It was like MTV's Real World for Christians: less hot tub debauchery and more Bible study.
Saturdays were our free time, so five of us piled into one car and made the 2.5 hour car trip to the city that never sleeps.
I don't remember what I expected to see or do in New York. I don't think I had many preconceived notions. At this point in my life, I hadn't traveled much and had never lived in a large city. I was just excited about the idea of New York.
As we approached the city and drove across a bridge, I looked across the backseat and out the driver's side window. There, in the distance, rising up out of the water, small but unmistakable, was the Statue of Liberty.
"Look!" I cried. "It's the Statue of Liberty!"
From the joy and awe in my voice, you would have thought I'd been waiting my whole life to see this landmark, as if I were an avid tourist, or a hungry immigrant.
The sheer surprise and happiness of seeing the Statue of Liberty caught me off-guard. It's not that I'd been looking forward to seeing it. It's that I had completely forgotten about its existence.
Lady Liberty is practically synonymous with the Big Apple. Yet I hadn't included it in my mental checklist of things to see while in New York. But there it was. Big -- and real -- as life. Here was this famous icon and I was seeing it in person, with my own eyes.
At that moment I felt like I was living life for once, rather than life living me. I can't explain how, but seeing the statue reminded me that the world is full of possibilities, even when we don't see them coming.
I thought of this story last weekend while I was in New York City for the ASJA writer's conference. I looked out of my hotel window on the 34th Floor and saw a large, silver gargoyle two buildings over.
As I was walking back to my hotel one day, I saw the building with the gargoyles on it and noticed how shiny it was. Suddenly I heard little orphan Annie proclaiming, "You'll stay up till this dump shines like the top of the Chrysler building." It was the Chrysler Building I'd seen from my window! I had the same feeling of recognition that I'd had 11 years earlier when I "discovered" the Statue of Liberty.
I'm looking for obvious monuments. The things in my life that are always there, whether I see them or not. The signposts that reassure me that whether I remember them or not, they stand strong and solid, ready to delight me.