new york, new york

August 3, 2016

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We spent nine days in New York City, visiting the two older kids. Up until now, we’ve always visited for long weekends, moving the kids into their dorms, checking in at spring break, attending H’s graduation. But this was a treat, nine days of just hanging out, being part of their everyday lives.

We spent the first four in Brooklyn, in a rental not far from where H lives. He biked over every day, and he and his brother spent plenty of time catching Pokemon. Interestingly, the 24-year-old seemed more into it than the 14-year-old, but then again, he was the one who lived and breathed Pokemon back in 2000. Nostalgia hit in waves as intense as the 95-degree-plus-humidity heat, as I caught up with my old acquaintances, Bulbasaur and Poliwrath.

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We did a lot of bike-riding. We rode to the New York Transit Museum. (Great spot! You can step inside historic subway cars from every decade!) On Saturday we dropped Mr. T at a gaming store for his own card love, a Magic pre-release, and rode with H towards Williamsburg. One of my favorite only-in-New-York experiences was riding through the Hasidic Jewish neighborhood that butts up against hipsterville Williamsburg, and seeing both beards-and-tats and beards-and-sidelocks in equal number, the latter out walking in the 95-degree Sabbath-day heat in their long overcoats and fur hats. (A fantastic old This American Life episode explores this culture clash, and what happened when a young Hasid became fascinated with Williamsburg punk.)

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One night we cooked at H’s apartment, and I can’t tell you how delighted I was to open the fridge of three 24-year-old guys and see shelves crammed with veggies, yogurt, eggs, a little meat and a big bag of flax seed. Oh, and fresh basil properly stored in a jar of water. Raised those boys right!

I also had the fun of ubering with Lulu to Ikea, and buying a bookshelf and a bed frame for her new teensy-adorable apartment. Did we figure out how to get it all from Brooklyn to the east village via a not-too-expensive rented driver? Yes, we did. Did the driver help us carry it up to her fourth-floor walkup? No, he did not.

Did I mention the 95-degree-plus-humidity heat?

We deliver.

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In Manhattan we walked and ate, ate and walked. According to my Fitbit, we walked 93 miles in nine days–and that doesn’t count all the biking. It allowed for a few rounds of ice cream and avocado toast.

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We did plenty of touristy things. Visited the Museum of Natural History. Ate lunch at the Chelsea Market. (Amazing Israeli food!)  Walked the High Line.

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We went to The Meatball Shop, a favorite. Which inexplicably inspired some people to do yoga, or something like it.

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At H’s suggestion, we took the Staten Island Ferry to the island, got off the ferry, re-boarded and came back. Because it’s free and you can’t beat the views.

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We rode Citi Bikes down to the ferry terminal. If riding bikes in Manhattan sounds as terrifying to you as it did to me, you must consider riding on the bike path that runs along the Hudson River. It’s one of my favorite things we’ve ever done in NYC–you’re away from cars, beside the river, and traveling fast and unfettered up and down Manhattan. Loved it!

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But mostly we just hung out with the kids, eating good meals, witnessing their lives. We got to see H taking late night calls about film locations, got to help Lulu assemble bookcases and hang curtains.

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We got to laugh and be silly and just be the five of us again. (Here we have a bunch of Californians, posing as tough New Yorkers.)

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Earlier this summer I met a woman, and after sharing family stories, she expressed her admiration that my two older kids were both brave enough to move to New York City at eighteen years old. I suppose I hadn’t thought of it that way. I’m proud of the two of them, and how they’re making lives of meaning there. I miss them like crazy and hope, hope, hope they’ll come back to California eventually. But in the meanwhile, I can’t imagine a more fun place to visit kids. In the meanwhile, I feel very lucky indeed.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

amy August 3, 2016 at 10:54 am

This post brings back so many happy memories of my own grad school days. What a great trip, and what a great adventure for your kids — though I don’t blame you for daydreaming that they’ll end up back on your coast sometime in the future.

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patricia August 3, 2016 at 11:13 am

And lucky you for going to grad school there, Amy! It wouldn’t have occurred to me to go to school so far from home, but I’m grateful to get to “attend” now, second-hand!

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Carrie Pomeroy August 3, 2016 at 11:15 am

What fun! I hope for your sake that they do come back to California, but I imagine wherever they end up, you’ll find a way to enjoy their homes with them, just like you did on this trip.

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patricia August 3, 2016 at 5:31 pm

Absolutely, Carrie. I will follow them anywhere. (Like I learned to follow them as a homeschooling parent, right?)

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Alexandra August 3, 2016 at 12:49 pm

Thank you for sharing your time in NYC! Only our oldest has moved out and she is still in the same town as us. It still feels great to see her and bump into her by chance. It’s pretty amazing to see our kids being completely independent, isn’t it?! I love your little details, because I could relate (my daughter makes her own smoothies!).

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patricia August 3, 2016 at 5:35 pm

I was thinking about just that, Alexandra: having our oldest bike over to our rental was what it might be like if he lived nearby, like many of the grown kids of my friends live near them. It occurred to me that I’ve never experienced that, since my kids pretty much became adults away from us. Maybe someday. Lucky you, to have your girl close by!

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Dawn Suzette August 4, 2016 at 2:35 am

What a wonderful trip!
I can certainly relate to the woman in wonder of the kids moving to NYC at 18. It has always been one of those places that is larger than life in my mind and I don’t think I could have ever made that move.
It is so great to see it through your trip and experience a little taste of real-life NYC.
The more you share the faster it is moving up on my list of places to go.

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patricia August 4, 2016 at 8:47 pm

You need to go, Dawn! You’re not too far away. You would just need to do an outdoor lover’s trip to NYC. You could do that!

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CathyT August 4, 2016 at 6:40 pm

Loved hearing about your trip! Since we live on the East Coast and had a train nut, we have done many of the things you did but never tried the bike path… my oldest moved to CO to follow his train dream over a year ago but called last week to say he is coming back to MA to follow his other dream, photography. I can’t wait to see him next month and maybe he’ll live close enough to randomly bump into someday.

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patricia August 4, 2016 at 9:00 pm

Oh, these kids and their dreams, CathyT! How great that your son is planning to come back closer to home. The thought of bumping into my kids near home is too much to hope for at this point, but at least I get to hear stories of the older two occasionally bumping into each other in NYC. :-)

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Gabé Allen August 7, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Loved reading your blog. I guess you are kind of lucky for now to have those two in the same city, at least. I can see that you had a great time together. How come that Chris does not look older than his sons, or is it the light or the lack of it. ??? :))
Aleisha is already making plans to leave again as soon as she graduates from school. She wants to live in Japan for a year and the study psychology in Germany. She picked up her Japanese studies again and is in communication with universities in Hamburg and a couple of other cities. I have the feeling that we will have to travel if we want to see her. I would love to travel to Japan and to spend more time in Germany again. There is also a need for the work with special needs children in Europe, so I may be able to work/travel and spend time with family.

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patricia August 17, 2016 at 9:35 am

Such plans your girl always has, Gabi! And while it isn’t always easy to have them so far away, how great it is when their exciting lives mean more fun and travel for us! xo.

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Gabé Allen August 17, 2016 at 11:15 pm

Indeed! looking forward to the traveling part :)

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Kristin August 10, 2016 at 7:55 am

Wonderful trip! I think we’re realizing that just because our kids have grown up, our family-time together hasn’t ended! We get smaller doses of it. That’s for sure. But our adult kids can’t shake their love of exploration and discovery–both on their own and sometimes when we’re lucky, with us. Homeschooling has made a positive impression. Do you agree?

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patricia August 17, 2016 at 9:38 am

No our family time hasn’t ended, and I love the small, happy doses we get! I can’t even fathom the impression that homeschooling made. I think part of my desire to write about it is to try to tease that out a bit. I want to understand better just what homeschooling did for the kids–and for me! It’s been a beautiful life, hasn’t it, my friend?

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treen August 10, 2016 at 5:19 pm

We were just in NYC last weekend (we live in Connecticut so it’s just a couple of hours away) and in our wanderings around the Financial District/Battery Park, we passed the New York Film Academy – I thought of you and wondered if that’s where your son went to school.

We also rode the Staten Island ferry this particular trip, and turned around and got right back on. Good views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty! We haven’t been out to it yet – kids have to be 48 inches tall to go to the crown, and our younger three are still little.

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patricia August 17, 2016 at 9:42 am

Lucky you, treen, being so close to the city! No, my son went to the film school at NYU, which was a fantastic place for him and his filmmaking.

Sounds like you have many years ahead of exploring NYC with your kids! One day you will have to visit the Tenement Museum, if you haven’t done so already. It’s a neat spot, and kid-friendly for kids who are a bit older.

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Tina Monaco August 23, 2016 at 11:59 am

What a wonderful trip/adventure. Can’t wait to try the bikes next time we’re in NYC!

Beautiful memories, wonderful times with family. Doesn’t get much better than that.

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patricia August 24, 2016 at 10:07 pm

Hey you!

Yes, you really should rent those bikes and ride along the Hudson. Super fun and easy. And then we can talk about where you should eat. 😉

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susan September 2, 2016 at 6:55 am

Love this post! I moved from Long Island to upstate NY, but we’re still only an hour and a half from NYC. I love where you were, lower Manhattan where it really is quite residential. How lucky your chidden are that you have given them wings.

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patricia September 2, 2016 at 11:03 am

How great to live so close to NYC! Yes, my birds flew far away, but I’m grateful that I get to visit them in such an exciting place. Thanks for saying hello!

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