By Jennifer Ellis
Hello my faithful readers! By readers I mean my friends and family and those I’ve badgered into reading this blog as l nod and smile looking over their shoulder, or assault their Facebook page with shares. It’s been a few weeks since my last post. Why you ask? Because I’m a pro at procrastination and mind writing. Yes, mind writing. When I think of some great story I’d like to share and start writing it in my mind as if some how I have an invisible typist that is connected to my brain and will dictate onto my super cute indigo laptop. Then when I realize Professor X isn’t going to be my personal secretary, it’s now almost three weeks since I’ve taken you back into the world of Little Big Girl. What can I say. You live, you learn, you forget – you fall asleep on your sisters couch with your laptop sitting on the coffee table judging you, nestled in in its nifty purple second skin. Ok I got it, enough with the self deprecation. What I’m going to reluctantly share with you is a story I wrote about my first trip to New York City. It was written six years ago. “I have grown so much as a writer since then,” she says reflecting on her current Pulitzer prize worthy work. I am sharing this particular story with you to celebrate my almost annual trip to The Big Apple; this time with my love, my boyfriend and best friend Mike ( insert love struck emoji face here) So start spreading the news people, because I’m leaving today. Seriously, we board in ten minutes.
Prologue: In the winter of 2010 Shelley Short, one of my oldest and dearest friends, called me up just frantic. It was a pretty big emergency. Shelley got wind that New Kids on the Block had just announced that they were performing at Radio City Music Hall in New York City this summer, and she was ready to sell her first born to spend the weekend in NYC with her bestie and our boyfriends from Boston. Of course I immediately started thinking of sad stories to tell my landlord so I could pay for my ticket and book a room on Expedia. As an avid fan of pop culture and movies as well, New York City had always been at the top on my list of places to visit. What would make the trip so special however, was the fact that my mother was born and raised in the city. I knew it would be an extraordinary experience for me to be in the place that she called home for much of her life. I’d had a rough spring, so getting away from my life for a little while seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. So, that was that. We left on a Thursday in June. This is my New York story.
How does it feel, to be on your own, with no direction home, like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone? – Bob Dylan.
Bob was alone when he came to this city. We were unknowns as well when we arrived that Friday in June, but we weren’t by ourselves. The minute Shelley and I found our way out of the bowels of the Manhattan Port Authority , my mother smiled and took my hand… “Welcome ta New York” said a man wearing a reflective vest holding out the free daily. This is a timeless tradition in the city, the paper boy on the corner, doling out papers to the public as New Yorkers hurry to their jobs on Wall Street or maybe as a bell hop at the New Yorker on 33rd. It was 7:30 in the morning. Shelley and I had had maybe a good half hour of sleep on our twelve hour, overnight bus trip from Toronto.
“We’re going to Hotel Pennsylvania, do you know the way?” I asked the new age paper boy. He had a visible scar on his right cheek going all the way up to his ear.
“There’s where all the hotels are,” he says as he points down to the W Hotel.
“We need to get to 401 7th Ave.” I said as I gave him a reluctant look.
“Nah, nah” pipes in a heavy set woman sitting on a stack of news papers. “You gotta go up this street make a right onto 34th then a left on 7th.”
I smiled at her, relieved. “Thanks mommy,” I thought silently.
We lugged our suitcases to the hotel in about ten minutes. Even at this early hour, the city was already buzzing with life. We checked our baggage in the hotel storage room until we could check in, which wouldn’t be until about three. Hotel Pennsylvania was located right across from the famous Madison Square Garden. It had an old world, regal feeling to it. The building certainly wasn’t the Ritz but it was a far cry from a Howard Johnsons. The hallways were large as well as the foyers on each floor. I think it’s safe to say that it was the biggest hotel I had ever stayed at in my life. Weak and weary we freshened up and hit the streets. Our first stop was breakfast. As we stepped back out onto 7th Ave we were bombarded once again with a sea of people, yellow cabs, vendors and a wide variety of restaurants. We ate at McDonalds. Wasn’t that the obvious choice? The Iced coffee and Egg McMuffin was however undoubtedly delicious going down, as I mapped out the afternoon that Shelley and I were to embark on. We both wanted to shop of course so naturally the first stop after breakfast would be Canal Street. We got on the number 1 train at 33rd ave. The NYC subway system looks exactly how it does on TV and in the movies. The air was thick with history standing on that platform that morning. The age of the tracks and the walls were evident. I thought about how many decades of passengers have read newspapers smoked cigars, or held hands with their lover while waiting for this train. I was silent in appreciation for where I stood and all the life that this place had carried in and out of the Burroughs.
Canal Street is where you go to get accosted by pushers of illegal knock off designer merchandise. It was so much fun! “Lady, lady you want Chanel, Coach bag? I got it! Good price!”
To say they were aggressive would be a fair assessment. Six t-shirts and one knock of Vercase purse later; we hit the sizzling summer side walk again, headed for the next stop on our first New York adventure.
A woman conducting surveys for the NYC transit system stopped us to complete a transit survey. It was funny, because Shelley and I were at that moment, working on wrappin our heads around the subway system.
“Dumb it down, and print a free tourist map for god’s sake. It’s the tourist capital of the world, why isn’t there something like that already in circulation?” I griped to this visibly weathered, middle aged woman. Her short orange hair started to stick to her forehead as she perspired in the city heat.
“Good idea” she agreed as she jotted down my suggestions.
After she handed me my Barnes and Noble gift certificate for my participation, I asked her how to get to Greenwich Village. I’d always known of the historical significance of this place but didn’t realize that my parents spent time here, especially my mother and her best friend Helen Herbert. My dad suggested me to go to Gerde’s Folk City, an iconic folk music club. Unfortunately after doing some research, I discovered the doors had closed years ago on the relic. He told me to see if I could find The Bitter End, a similar venue. Praise be to BlackBerry for allowing me to retrieve the address from the side walk! 147 Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village. The surveyor racked her brain for a moment and told us to take the number one train to Sheridan Gardens. This would take us to the heart of “The Village.” My mom and Helen, two boisterous headstrong Jewish New Yorkers’ loved this part of the city, and I was looking forward to following their footsteps. According to my father the two saw this young musician perform at a coffee house one night and Helen practically booed him off the stage. “He’s a bum, get him off the stage,” heckled Helen. That bum, was Bob Dylan. His appearance at Gerde’s in the fall of 1961 was reviewed in the New York Times by journalist Robert Shelton. Some would say his career took off after this appearance and review.
My mother, according to my father, knew a lot of people in The Village. Jose Feliciano was apparently someone she had known. Next Christmas, when Feliz Navidad plays in the department stores I’ll remember that. This part of the city for those who don’t know has been recognized in American history as the place where renowned American artists got their start, like Mr. Dylan. It was a bohemian locale, and for anyone who knew my mother, my father, or Helen, they would understand why they could be found in and around these streets. It was the epicenter of all that was hip, upcoming, and revolutionary. This section of the city played a major role in the development of folk music. Bob Dylan of course being one of the most notable, but let’s not forget Peter, Paul and Mary, The Kingston Trio, James Taylor, Simon & Garfunkel, The Velvet Underground, Phil Ochs, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez and Nina Simone…and that’s just to name a few musicians. All kinds of artists, dancers, writers and poets called this place home and developed their craft here. Andy Warholl, Hans Hoffman, Maya Angelou, Jack Kerouac, Dylan Thomas and William Faulkner put brush to canvass or pen to paper here. As I poked my head up from the damp subway stairwell, I knew I was going to be in good company. As an artist and a writer, the inspiration I was feeling was palpable.
Knowing the address didn’t necessarily mean I knew what direction it was in. We needed more assistance. Shelley and I approached this parkette right outside the station (very common in the city I will add) and to our left was a group of men sitting on a bench in wife beaters and shorts. They were sitting in that “Hey girl, wus yo name?” slouch. Maybe they were on vacation too? Perhaps? While I canvassed this small area for further direction, this white haired older fellow who had seemed to be too engrossed in his newspaper, overheard my attempts.
“Where ya wanna go?” He chimed in with his distinctive New York brogue; glasses perched on the tip of his nose. I smile and shuffle over to him eagerly waiting for him to give me a full history lesson about the Village. It was like I was Atreyu looking to Morla the turtle, or the Southern Oracle for guidance. I give him the address and a brief background as to why I want to find this place. He looked into the distance as if he was searching the corners of his mind for a visual of this place. “Ok, ok it’s definitely that way,” he proclaims. “Bleecker is this way, make a left and you’ll get there.” I thanked him and we were off.
I was eager to get started. I could immediately understand what drew my mother to this place. Suddenly it felt like I could almost feel her next to me. I’d imagined she’d be wearing a long flowing bohemian style skirt, Birkenstock’s, and her wavy golden hair would be glowing in the mid afternoon sun. She was almost like a spiritual tour guide; walking down Bleecker with me, guiding me through these historic streets. We stopped at a local cafe named The Grey Dog, after a recommendation from a friendly crossing guard. After enjoying a poppy seed bagel with locks and cream cheese and a side of pickles, Shelley and I continued down Bleecker. Soon enough we approached the address. It was right where it was supposed to be. I was so proud of my dad for remembering this place, and excited knowing that I could tell him and show him I was there. It broke my heart that he wasn’t there to see it still standing in its glory. But I wasn’t alone. My mom was there, happy as well that I had found it. I was elated that I had found my way back to her youth by way of these streets. My dad once described her as a “DO IT NOW” type of person, her New York City accent as big as the sky.” Remembering that sentiment, and knowing I’d finally made it here evoked overwhelming emotion inside me, and tears brimmed in my eyes. I quickly gathered my composure and smiled up at my mom. I started filming so my dad could in some way, join us at that moment.
Two chicks on the Hudson
It was nearing 3:00 PM and Shelley and I were eager to check into our room for a long overdue shower and nap. Shelley crashed immediately. I had a shower and attempted to nap, but I was too wired from all that already happened in the few short hours we were here. I lay down on the soft King Size bed, and drifted in and out of sleep as I plotted what I wanted to do with the rest of my short time here. The plan was to make a quick stop on 34th and 5th Ave for some shopping, then head down to the Ferry Docks for our 90 minute harbour cruise. Good luck finding which corner to stand on to catch the shuttle bus! Shelley and I seemed to be somewhat direction-ally challenged wonders that evening, standing on practically four corners on 5th and 34th to see about eight shuttle buses pass us. It seemed futile until we practically flung ourselves in front of one. We arrived at the docks, I purchased an overpriced black and white cookie, quoted Jerry Seinfeld, and we started on our excursion. It was all I had imagined it would be and more. The tiny island of Manhattan is jam packed with outstanding contemporary architectural structures, as well as 100 and 200 year old marvels of design. Each section of the city has its own distinctive character and history, Soho, Chelsea, The Upper East Side, The Village. The tour was eloquently narrated by a gentleman who taught us about the origin of the city, and the inception of the five boroughs. “Alright everybody repeat after me: “Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, (where my mother lived) and Staten Island.” Staten Island? Who knew? One of the landmarks I’d been waiting to see with great anticipation was the world famous Brooklyn Bridge. As we passed under the grand structure I marveled at its vast size and magnificent design. I was captivated. Tourists from all over the world joined us on our nautical jaunt. Folks from Denmark, Italy, Germany, and Japan were oohing and aahhing, while pointing their cameras at the wondrous city-scape. Then, almost from out of nowhere, there she stood. She was so lovely basking in the twilight. She looked so tall and mighty in all her salt-water-deposit-green glory. Suddenly my gaze was rudely disrupted.
“Get out of ze vay stooped voman” griped an older man in what seemed to be Dutch.
“Sir I’ve moved to virtually every section of this boat already. Care to give it a try yourself?”
He looked at me shocked that I hadn’t heeded his direction. I stewed angrily in my head.
“Listen buddy I don’t care if you flew all the way from Holland, Germany, or Spain or God damned Jupiter! I’ve been waiting for this moment since potty training, and you, sir, will HAVE TO MOVE TO ANOTHER PART OF THE BOAT!!” After my internal confrontation, I continued with my photo shoot of Ms. Liberty. I had taken some great shots and before we knew it we were docking at Pier 78.
“They say the neon lights are bright…”
Shelley and I caught the ferry shuttle up town to Times Square. We hopped off the bus into lights, people, hotels, restaurants, flashing signs, music, honking horns, yellow cabs, rickshaws, people, flashing marquees, couples, kids, grandmas, uncle Tom, Aunt Sally with her fanny pack and I Heart NY t-shirt, flashing signs, lights, artists, peddlers, lights, dogs, cats, Captain Kangaroo, lights flashing marquees, Nasdaq, Kodak, Coca Cola, UFC, The Naked Cowboy, flashing lights! We were inundated by the stimuli. It was just…so much. It was so big. So, New York. We were wiped from the twelve hour bus ride the previous night, and absolutely famished. Times Square to a tired and hungry tourist is a blur. It’s like a palate of a billion colours, so hard to decipher each one. In the distance we noticed Bubba Gump’s, a Forrest Gump themed restaurant with a line up out the door. We decided to give it a shot. Despite the long line up, we were seated in about fifteen minutes. The tables had interchangeable licence plates on them, one side reading “Stop Forrest Stop,” if you want the waiter to stop at your table, and the other reading the famous line from the film “Run Forrest Run,” if all is well at your table. I thought it was clever. Our over-enthused waiter came to the table to take our order. We struck up easy conversation with him while he made his recommendations for Bubbas far out dip and the Dumb Luck Coconut Shrimp. He told us about his new life in the city. It was your typical story. Small town boy from Ohio moves out to NYC to fulfill his dreams as an actor. After hearing about his ambitions, I found myself telling him to get his life together.
“Listen,” I said. “Get yourself waiting at a better restaurant like Sardees, or the Tavern on the Green. That way you’ll be waiting on producers or directors. People, who are people, who know people. You know what I’m saying? You’ve gotta do better than Bubba Gump’s.”
I was shocked with my brazen judgments. It flowed out of me so easily. He seemed to take my advice in stride, and I sat back as he sketched us quick directions on the best way to get to the Empire State building from the restaurant. I sat back for a minute and laughed a little inside. I concluded that it was definitely my mother talking earlier, as I was scolding the unsuspecting mid-western waiter for not making a better occupational choice. I was slightly embarrassed but also kind of impressed with my candor. That’s just how she was. She could talk to anybody, with that voice “as big as the sky” just about anywhere, about anything. Be it a waiter, cab driver, teacher, politician, her cat; she had something to say about everything. She embodied the attitude of this city. I smiled in between bites of my veggie burger. I hadn’t had dinner with my mom in years. It was nice.
We hailed our first NYC yellow cab up to The Empire State building. The cabs are outfitted with live GPS tracking systems built into the back of the front seats for passengers to see which direction the cabbies are taking them. Alongside that is a screen running with advertisements and excerpts from Jimmy Kimmel or other comedy shows. The biggest surprise about the NYC Yellow cab is the price. The fare starts at $2.25, and its pennies every kilometer, versus the $4.00 Torontonians pay as soon as their tushes hit the seats. I would assume due to the volume of cabs New Yorkers’ take they can offer such a rate. We approached the iconic building in about eight minutes, and five dollars. We were once again accosted by a scrum of salesmen wanting us to buy elite packages to see the view from the top. After we refused their sales pitches, we bobbed and weaved our way out of the sea of pushers and we found our way into the lobby of the building. The staff, who welcomed us as we entered, was fully clad in uniforms designed in the era the building was erected. We started with purchasing our tickets, then waited in line for the optional “picture of you and yours with the view from the top behind you,” then of course came the line for the optional audio device that will tell you brief anecdotes about parts of the city, as you point it towards areas of interest from the observation deck. Innovative, but clearly another tourist cash grab.
“It’s only five bucks ma’am,” said a young man desperate for a sale.
“Oh alright,” I agreed, half ashamed that I swayed by his mocha skin and caramel eyes. “That’s not too bad, some of these guys are pretty insistent to sell you some overpriced things. I thought the vendors in Jamaica or the Dominican Republic were aggressive.”
“You’ve been to D.R?” he inquired as he hands us the device. His face had widened into a glorious smile, and he seemed somewhat impressed.
I looked up with a questioning look on my face.
“D.R?” I replied as if he’d stated the formula for Uranium.
“Yeah, D.R, the Dominican Republic,” he said as he glared at me. It was as if he was waiting to hear a “click” go off in my head.
“Oh yes, of course,” I replied, as I painfully tried to recover from the fact that I’d forgotten the meaning of the acronym. “Yeah I’ve been,” I said with shaken confidence. “It was beautiful.”
“Yeah, yeah it is. That’s where my family is from,” he boasted.
Of course, I figured in my head. I remember how distinctly beautiful the people of that island are. He was undoubtedly no exception.
“Oh that’s nice, you should try to get back there for a visit,” I encouraged.
He nodded in agreement and Shelley and I were ushered to the second round of elevators. Ten minutes later we were on the observation deck. What a dream come true. It was buzzing with tourists. We gazed at the massive city below. The black water of the NYC harbour was decorated by the lights of the Brooklyn Bridge. The impressive metropolis below us looked like a replica of New York from the great distance. The lights of the city and the cool breeze stirred romance into the air. I could see why a man would propose to their potential brides here. “I’m on top of the world when I’m with you,” he’d say. “Let’s take it on together.” Cary Grant and Tom Hanks were on the right track.
As midnight approached, we were getting out of cab and headed into the hotel to rest our heads. With our feet swollen from the sweltering pavement and our bodies fatigued, we were thankful for a good nights’ rest. The morning came with yet another McDonald’s breakfast and shopping on 34th Ave. I was in awe when I discovered Rainbows on 5th Ave. It was a miracle. I was sifting through racks of affordable trendy clothing that fit me, AND my skinny counterparts!! I literally hit the plus-size-shopper jackpot. After I spent virtually my last few dollars replenishing my summer wardrobe, we headed to Central Park. Thank god for Shelley footing the cab tab because our feet had still not recovered. I literally felt that my feet alone, were pregnant. We didn’t have the steam to trek through one of the largest city parks in North America. We did manage however with the help of a friendly couple, to get a shot of ourselves facing the Manhattan skyline. And, for you fellow Sex and The City fans, I’m pretty sure Charlotte and Harry had their wedding announcement photo taken in the same spot. We’d inquired about the cost of a horse drawn carriage ride that takes you around the park. Discovering that it was insanely over priced, we decided to head back towards our hotel. As we walked away from the park, I realized that we were on Central Park west. I purchased about a half dozen fridge magnets from a vendor, and noticed a familiar building across the street. I found myself staring at the legendary Plaza Hotel. I was yet again, mesmerized. I was waiting for Mick Dundee to emerge from the hotel with his big knife. I was sure I could see Eloise and Nanny entering the foyer. Maybe I’d see Penny Lane yell out “It’s all happening” from a window before she overdoses in her hotel room. Or perhaps I’d catch a glimpse of Sadie and Rose…and Sadie and Rose. I felt as if I was in a living cinema. Growing up in L.A I was raised in movie theaters. Double feature Saturdays and cheap rentals at the corner video store, took me to this famous backdrop time and again. Shelley must have thought I was medicated as I was almost struck by a wall of tourists and a cab crossing the street. I’d been trying to get a good shot of the hotel with my mug in the foreground.
Unscathed from my near death experience, we hopped in a cab and took off to our hotel. We freshened up a bit and headed out to take some shots on the impressive mass of steps of the New York City Post Office. We then decided to grab a slice of pizza at Rose’s Pizza, inside the NY Port Authority. These guys literally slung pizza. Swiftly and with great precision, they sliced and threw pies into sweltering ovens shouting out “orders up” at hungry patrons. The pizza was crispy, cheesy and delicious. It was the perfect NY pepperoni slice. After our nosh we were anxious to get back to the hotel and get ready for the concert. The concert started at 8:00 o’clock and we were down to the wire. After we dressed in our purchases made earlier that day, we ran across the street to the line up of cabs outside The Gardens. Some chick had swiped the cab we had our eye on out from under us. We were peeved. We tapped on the back of a cab in front of it, urging the driver to stop. He obliged, so Shelley and I opened up the passenger doors on each side, and hopped in. I perked up with pride and gleamed up at Shelley. I was proud of our New York savvy-ness.
” The first time was a great time…the second time…”
We arrived at Radio City to a hundreds of women queuing to get into the theatre. This was going to be an experience not soon to be forgotten. My last night in this remarkable city topped off with five of my favourite people in the world. To convey the importance of this evening I must give you some context.
In 1988 I fell in love with New Kids on The Block. I was at an impressionable age. I was also in the midst of losing my mother to Multiple Sclerosis, while dealing with my expanding body. When I say this, I don’t mean trying to figure out what training bra I needed. More so trying to understand why I couldn’t find an acid wash jean skirt in the pretty plus section of Sears. It was a tough time. So, in walked these boys who were in love with every girl who loved them. Joe McIntyre, I was convinced, would be my husband some day. We were only five years four months and twenty eight days apart after all. I existed with my Sony walkman head phones glued to my head, Teen Beat in my hands, and the Hangin’ Tough Home Video on our Zenith. They were my source of unconditional fun, love, laughter, and pure hormone infused excitement. They were my smile. They held the post of security and love, when the greatest source of that for a human being was taken away. My mother died on December 23, 1989, and the New Kids were on the lips of every girl in the country at that time. After the holidays my best friend Monica came over to visit. My sister answered the door. I recall sitting on the living room floor immersed in a sea of posters and magazines. When Monica walked through the door, I promptly put my head phones on and started listening to what must have been the New Kids Christmas album. I didn’t want to hear Monica’s reaction to the news. I couldn’t deal with my own emotions at that time, much less any one else’s. They helped me cope; find some sanity. During a time when everything imaginable was just not ok, they had made things somewhat…ok.
We were stage left in the beautiful concert theater. We had great seats; roughly thirty to forty feet away from the stage. As we sat in the plush red velvet seats I took a deep breath. What a great time I’d been having. Tonight was going to be the culmination of such a memorable weekend. The house lights went down and the large monitor above the stage flickered on. Displayed was a montage of New York City landmarks, the skyline, and shots of fans holding signs and wearing New Kids t-shirts. They’d had a shot of the Please don’t go Girl video when the boys were running down the boardwalk at Jones Beach, N.Y. I was breathless. They showed a clip of the Apollo theatre and that’s when tears filled my eyes. That was the first time I had seen them in real life. I had fallen asleep on a Saturday night in the winter of 1988, while watching TV on the couch. I awoke to that song I kept hearing on L.A’s Power 106. I was convinced it was sung by the Jackson Five. The song, was Please Don’t Go Girl. There was Joe not all of 16 years old, with big Irish blue eyes and copper hair. He was among four other white teenage boys singing this soulful song as the people of Harlem cheered them on, ending their performance to a standing ovation. I literally could not believe my eyes, and thought I was dreaming. That’s when they took my hand and led me to where I was at that very moment. They were my support and my comfort when I lost my mother as a child, and now over twenty years later, they had helped me find her. The show as expected was full of energy and nostalgia. At one point they were sitting on chairs singing acoustically. Then something incredible happened…
“Let’s play something random Jordan,” Joe suggests to Jordan.
“Well nothing is random Joe…” Jordan quips.
They start to sing Backstreet Boys’ I Want it That Way. Now, as a New Kids fan it can be judged sacrilegious to like the Backstreet Boys, or any other boy band for that matter. Although my loyalties would always lie with the New Kids, my good friend Diane and I loved that song and we always squealed when the video came on. Before I could belt out “Aint nothin’ but heartache,” the curtains behind my beloved New Kids lifted, and to the audiences shocking delight, the Backstreet Boys had joined them onstage, singing along with the New Kids to the 1999 hit single! I was thrilled! I was in this amazing city with my favourite boys, one of my oldest and dearest friends, and my mom’s spirit beside me. It was pure magic.
We approached the hotel were met with a wave of WWE fans that were just coming out of the Gardens. We were looking for a late night nosh. I was tempted to get Tim Horton’s, but decided against it when the clerk had no idea what an Iced Capp was. Fifteen minutes later Shelley and I were eating Lebanese in our room.
As I lay my head down that last night while Shelley slept silently beside me, I felt a sense of calm come over me. I’d come to this city on the heels of an emotionally tumultuous time in my life. Gazing at the black and white framed photograph of the Brooklyn Bridge hanging on the wall, I started to think about how this bridge has stood strong for over a century. It’s held steady throughout years of natural or deliberate threats. This bridge had become a symbol of optimism and inspiration for New Yorkers. And on this night, it was mine. The whole city was my catapult into feeling even if only for a little while, at peace.
“…..I’m leaving today…”
The morning of our departure came too soon with a speedy continental breakfast and bagel to go. We hopped in our last yellow cab and headed to Penn Station.
As we drove away from the New York Times offices outside the station, I felt my heart swell. Soon enough I turned to see the skyline fade in the distance. The Brooklyn Bridge however, was a beacon on the horizon. I sighed with gratitude and silently said goodbye. I was sure I saw my mom smile, and wave right back.