Seattle is a beautiful city and a wonderful, safe place to raise kids, but I will never lose my love for Manhattan. I spent my 20s there – I earned a graduate degree at Columbia, worked at two fabulous jobs, met great groups of friends, co-founded a book club, played (poorly) on a co-ed company softball team, hit my peak as a runner (on an elite team competing in Central Park) and met my husband. Whenever I arrive in the city, I feel like I’m home—and young—again.
In New York, I simply breathe in the air to recharge my batteries. I draw energy from the crowds, the lights, the shops, the bagels, the restaurants and the parks; I love it all.
Last month, Carol and I flew to NYC for a non-fiction writer’s conference. Although the workshop would consume most of Friday and Saturday, and part of Sunday, we knew we could find time for fun.
Thanks to Facebook and email, I connected with a bunch of friends from my carefree (read: before children) New York days in advance. Two friends agreed to lunch at a trendy Soho restaurant for Thursday, a few hours after our red-eye landed, and another bought tickets for an Irish rock band in the Village that night. A group that grew to about 15—many of whom now lived in the suburbs—made plans for dinner on Friday night. For Sunday, we scheduled another lunch and a walk in the park.
I suspected we would find the energy to fit it all in. I’m a lot more tolerant of fatigue—and much more energized—when traveling.
At home, when stuck in the daily routine of early-morning writing (and Facebook-surfing) sessions; the struggle to get four children up, fed and out the door; volunteering at schools and on boards; part-time writing and editing work; grocery shopping; cooking; driving carpools; exercising—with and without the dog; and managing dinner, homework and bedtime; I’m always exhausted.
Most nights at about 10 pm, I settle on the couch to tackle laundry and “Seinfeld” reruns, and doze as the older boys finish homework and their elaborate bedtime routines. They may wake me up as they’re finally heading to bed, sometimes between 11:30 and midnight.
On this last trip to New York, Carol and I hit the ground running after three barely countable hours of sleep (jammed into coach seats on an “overbooked” red-eye flight). We laughed and talked our way through a three-hour lunch and later, during a nostalgic evening listening to live music in a packed club, befriended young Irish fans, drained two bottles of wine (among three people) and acted like rocker girls.
Back at the hotel, I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, and slept soundly until the 7:30 wakeup call.
Then it was on to another full day. We celebrated the strong sun and mid-70s temperatures—quite different from fall in Seattle—and walked a mile to class. We found the conference invigorating and inspirational, as we worked on the “three minute elevator pitch” for our book and listened to our classmates’ own great ideas.
That evening, we set off for dinner at a BBQ joint on the East Side. Wonderful friends from my first publishing job (30-some years ago) showed up, as well as some gals from the book club we started in 1984 (which is still going strong). After a sizeable crowd had gathered, a dear friend entered, gave me a big hug, and made a loud joke about our long, platonic relationship. It was going to be a fun night.
Over dinner, we reminisced and caught up on our current lives (work, families, commutes, suburban life). Then, at a hip pool/Ping-Pong parlor, we drank Mimosas (remembering how that drink led to our ejection from the Sugar Reef, decades earlier), talked smack and told stories. Carol and I felt childless and 20-something again.
Over the weekend, I did call home a few times, and sent texts to the kids every day. I wanted to make sure they knew I missed them and loved them. The communication also reminded me of reality. The kids all asked me about the trip, the conference and the progress on the book. Could they be proud of me?
On the flight home, flush with satisfaction from a fun, full weekend and success at the conference (an agent and an editor asked for our proposal), I tried to work on the book project. However, I soon found my mind drifting to more menial matters such as meal-planning, homework-help and sporting events. I was re-energized and ready to face the “real world” again.
– Linda Williams Rorem, 11-9-10