Late last year, or perhaps early this one, my sister Susan told me she was going to visit her son Paul (my beloved and oldest nephew) in New York the first weekend of February.
“Come with me!” she said. “It’ll be fun, plus the flights are really low.”
So I — someone who takes zero pride in admitting that saying no isn’t difficult for me — said yes, surprising both of us. I bought my Southwest ticket (also admittedly, after prompting on more than one occasion by Susan) and we started watching the weather. Five days before we were to leave, our mom, who is from Brooklyn, called Susan saying she just HAD to go; she just HAD to, and did we mind?
Of course we didn’t. We wanted her to go, and we wanted sister Jeanne to be there, too. But her precious father-in-law had just passed away, so only three of the four Barker girls went.
Our first Friday night flight was cancelled, causing us to miss the play that Susan was giving me for my birthday. But we went standby on a later one and made it safely. Our activities included a jaunt to Ellis Island and to the Tenement Museum (which I hadn’t heard of either) but isn’t this a cool mug I bought there?
We even went ice skating in Central Park. I say “we,” but connecting the “me” part of that necessitates air-quotes around “ice skating.” Susan and Paul were much braver than I, though I will say in my slight defense that we had to clear the ice after 30 minutes so the ice could be smoothed out. I was just getting my ice legs when that happened. OK, I was maybe 30 minutes from getting my ice legs when that happened. Or perhaps 45. But…I said yes to putting on those skates.
I’m not going to go into any more details of the trip (mainly because I need to call my mother and ask her to check in her diary to refresh my memory, an activity which will take forever because we’ll start Memory Lane-ing). I will merely say that we laughed a lot, ate delicious food and had a wonderful time.
Just as — if not even more — important was agreeing to go in the first place. Because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been submerged in such mirth and delight, and I would have kicked myself forever.
So for this beautiful country of ours, for experiencing it with those I love more than I can quite possibly express, and for surprising myself for saying yes, The Grateful Runner says thank you.