Sunday, November 13, 2011

NYC State of Mind

A few weeks ago, I took a trek from sunny Florida to the NE for the wedding of my dear friend Rabbi Shmuley. His first born daughter was getting married in a Hasidic event that was sure to open my eyes up to a whole new world...mission accomplished! The veiling and 7 blessings, all so beautifully executed, I witnessed a wedding of pure splendor, joy, love and meaning.

Walking into new experiences seems to be a theme that most widows adopt in this strange new world of flying solo. For me, after 11 yrs now, I've come to accept the walking into, attending and RSVPing as one person....occasionally, I admit that it's not what I want and there are times I must nudge myself to 'go despite the temptation for staying home', because I know, if I go, I will be living life (and surprise myself) and that's why I keep saying YES.

In a wedding as symbolic and ancient as this one, Rabbi Shmuley still took the time to come over and remind me how significant and symbolic it was that I 'showed up'. It was like a loud speaker to all those who know me that I am 'choosing life' and 'celebrating joy' like Rabbi taught me in 2006 on TLC 'Shalom in the Home'. He is so right. I celebrated and I took in all the life I could that night. Giant baby steps.

After that, I visited with a friend, Mary Robinson, who is the founder of Imagine: A Center for Coping with Loss in Westfield, NJ. She was a gracious hostess who gave me a home base. There is no doubt that there is more to this story for us because Mary is determined to start a Modern Widows Club chapter in her area to honor her own mother who was a widow! So stay tuned.

From this home base, I decided to drive into the city with my little rental Chevy HHR and visit MoMA: The Museum of Modern Art.

Now, in my thinking, it sounded as simple as me writing that last sentence. Drive into the city and go to MoMA. I wanted to see the scaled models of the World Trade Center submissions and architecture showing. It was my lucky day because the first Thursday of the month MoMA is open until 8:30...woohoo! What I didn't know is.... this is a very brave decision.....(after the fact, of course). Driving to and around NYC is not for the weak at heart. The point I'm clearly making here is --> sometimes we say Yes and don't know what we are getting ourselves into- but we do it anyway.

Off I go thru the Holland Tunnel....using my GPS on my iPhone, all was well. What I didn't realize is how once you are in NYC the chaos that comes at you so fast is mind boggling. You feel like a vehicle in a pin ball machine suddenly with this energy and force of nature thrust upon you from every direction. Horns honking, bright lights everywhere, people jetting out in front of you, bikes touching your mirrors....oh, and it's nighttime!! I didn't even have the time to stop and think about going back! You just stay in the flow.....

About half way up 6th Avenue, and about 50 times a taxi almost brushed my car metal to metal or me thinking I'm gonna kill a pedestrian, I started thinking that maybe, maybe, I should have bought that extra car insurance protection. Too late now! Onward I must go. I was both mad at myself and exhilarated by my own fearlessness. I could see that I wasn't too far away from MoMA but the traffic was...well,.....horrendous. I think I held my breathe for like 30 minutes, but obviously lived to tell this story!

And worse, I forgot my car charger and my battery was getting low on my phone! 

After 2 hrs of driving, I made it to MoMA. I even found a parking garage across the street, with a vehicle elevator! Yes, I drive my car onto a deck and they take it down...somewhere?! For those of you who know this exists, bare with me, I was mesmerized by this whole experience.  Like a child seeing something new for the first time. The attendant was friendly, we chatted about where I was from (obviously not NYC) and said he'd take great care, then pointing me in the direction of MoMA!

I walked into MoMA with a well deserved smile, bought my tix, had another great convo with a docent and headed to the architectural exhibits up the escalator. Music and wine were flowing in the lobby, multi-lingual conversations all around me, it was obviously date night, open spaces abound and lots of 'living' going on here. 

 I loved every minute. Time stood still.  

Then reality set in. My phone died. I was in NYC without my link to the outside world. I was truly on my own...only one person knew I was there and I didn't know her number from memory. Surprisingly, I didn't panic. I controlled my breathing and had faith that G-D was with me and was always my shelter, no matter what situation I put myself in. It would be alright, go with the flow. I began to strategize about what I did have. I had me. I had a car across the street. I had money. I had a brain. I had nerve. I had until 8:30 before the museum closed. 

I took my time and enjoyed every last minute in the museum until I had to leave...walking across the street to the garage, I asked the attendant where the closest Apple Store was (5 blocks away). I remembered that I had borrowed a wall charger from my friend and asked if I could search to see if it was in my car (downstairs). He obliged and sure enough it was there! Halleluyah. He said I could plug it in and get some charge while enjoying the city. So I plugged it in, resisted the unnerving realization that this stranger now had my car and my phone (my lifelines) in his hands. All I could do was trust a stranger and find something to do alone in the most amazing city in the world!! Haha

So I did. 

I found a grocery store and bought some food- I was hungry after this excursion! I stumbled upon this famous LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana from 1964. I sat there on the edge alone, but not feeling lonely and ate my dinner while watching New Yorkers pass by. I was observing life from a unique place, a peaceful place that I created for myself. Obstacles will always find their way to me, but what I decide next defines who I am everytime. This is a relationship with myself and my G-d and it is very alive.
Before leaving, I looked back at this sculpture. I made a promise to myself that the next time I come to NYC and sit here, I'd like to be with someone I loved and loved me back. It's a great intention. But today, I was loving me and I was going to live. 

If I can make it here, I can make it the famous NYC saying goes. 

That's living moor alive, 

p.s. I bought eclairs for the garage attendant, he charged my phone up, took great care of my rental, I paid the $47 fee (ouch). I almost made it to my friends house in NJ without my phone dying again.....a few missed exits later and a half way good memory, I made it home....amazingly.  To G-d be the Glory!

Next time, I'm taking the train.