I awoke early in the morning on our last full day in New York City, and opened the room shades to find another sunny and mild day. The weather had been near perfect the entire trip, and today looked like it would be no exception. I was also feeling excited that tonight Emily would perform at Carnegie Hall in the Middle School Honors Performance Series. After all, this was the reason we had come to New York City in the first place, and it was going to be a great evening spent with family in a grand and historic theater. I was excited for another reason too… this was my birthday! It is not every day a girl gets to celebrate her special day in such a magnificent city.
Chris, Jules, and Sid had been downstairs to have an early breakfast and would soon be on their way to visit Emily. But first, Jules had to make another run to the Rite Aid Pharmacy to find different medication for Emily, whose cough and chest congestion seemed worse. With all this going on Saturday morning, FD and I opted to have my birthday breakfast at nearby Applejack Diner, where we managed an outdoor table so I could enjoy more people watching. While I checked out the passersby, FD kept busy on his iPhone looking for area shoe stores. He was bound and determined to find me some comfortable birthday shoes to wear with my new, black birthday dress we had purchased before we left on our trip.
I did bring plenty of shoes with me, but not all were comfortable to wear for endless hours walking on pavement. I realized much too late that I should have listened to my friend Ruthie, who helped me do some shopping for this trip not long after we decided to go. While shopping with Ruthie, I found a pair of sandals that felt like heaven – they were so comfortable and stylish. Ruthie suggested I buy a pair of the light brown and also a pair of black. But, practical me, I talked myself out of the black ones because I had other black sandals. And now, I was kicking myself for not buying them. The brown pair had been so comfortable that I wore them almost every day when we hit the streets of New York. Being light brown, however, they were somewhat wardrobe-limiting. So, FD was bound and determined that we should look for some comfortable, black sandals as a gift for my birthday.
After having a scrumptious birthday breakfast at the Applejack Diner, we walked to an eatery across from The Roosevelt Hotel to meet up with the rest of the family. There, we were pleased to see that Emily looked bright and happy despite battling chest congestion and a slight cough. Still, she decided to forego the sightseeing outing with her peers and, instead, head back to our hotel to rest up for her performance that evening. This would also allow plenty of time for Jules to prepare Emily’s hair for the event.
As for FD and I, I can tell you our mission to find sandals was not an easy one. In New York City, rivaling Paris as the world’s leading fashion Mecca, you would think I could find what I was looking for. But as we shopped along Times Square and down into the Garment District and even into the Greenwich Village area, we found that most stores were already displaying fall and winter styles, and had put summer stock on sale. As a result, anything I did find to my liking was no longer available in my size.
By the time we located a store that finally had exactly what I was looking for, it was late afternoon and we realized we would have to dash back to the hotel to begin getting ready for Carnegie Hall, and grab a quick bite to eat along the way. Since we were short of time, we decided to have my “birthday dinner” at our favorite neighborhood hangout, The House of Brews. Every meal we had eaten there during the week was delicious, and the prices were reasonable as well. Once seated, we explained we were in a hurry and the food arrived pronto!
Back at the hotel after dinner, we realized we had very little time to change clothes and freshen up as Jules, Chris and Sid were ready to head to Carnegie Hall. Normally, I would have taken time to fuss over my hair and makeup, but there would be no tarrying tonight. Carnegie Hall waits for no one!
Rather than hassle with a train, we decided to walk to Carnegie Hall since it was only about six blocks from our hotel. We had made this trek many times on foot with no problem, and it would surely save us cab fare. But before we could get out of the hotel, the shoe saga began again! Jules suddenly realized she would never make the six blocks in her heels. To remedy this, she finally decided to ditch her small, evening purse and carry the heels in her regular, black purse. That way, she could wear comfortable shoes to walk to Carnegie Hall and simply slip on her heels before we got to the entry. Then, if this was not enough already, about halfway to the theater, FD admits his dress shoes are killing his right foot. Apparently, he had not worn this particular pair of shoes for extensive walking, but only to fancy events where he was not so active.
The entrance and lobby of Carnegie Hall was vastly impressive, with marble pillars, high ceilings, and beautiful gold leafing. The staff there was welcoming, but informed us we had arrived a bit early to collect three of our tickets from the Will Call window. Ideally, this would not have been a necessary step in our process but, on the day they arrived in NYC, Jules suddenly realized she had forgotten to pack their Carnegie Hall tickets! Since I had purchased the lot of tickets for our group, I called to inquire what could be done about this. The agent on the line assured me there would be no trouble getting replacements at the box office on the day of the performance. Sure enough, the tickets were waiting for us once the Will Call window opened and Jules, who had been mortified by the whole event, was finally able to calm down and enjoy herself!
With replacement tickets in hand, we entered the Citi Cafe area of Carnegie Hall which, along with The Rose Museum, had opened about fifteen minutes before we were allowed to be seated in the Stern Auditorium. Jules, Sid, and I found a table, while FD and Chris secured some refreshment to help calm our nerves. I found it extremely exciting to be in such a grand old theater! The Italian Renaissance design made for an elegance I had seldom experienced in my life. Jules, as well, was completely taken aback by the grandeur of the setting and venue. After all, this was truly Jule’s night to shine, as she was the proud mother of a performer. I was so happy for her to have this experience!
I cannot express what I felt when we were finally able to enter the Stern Auditorium. There are some experiences in life that one simply “feels”, but cannot find adequate words to describe them and, for me, this was one of those experiences. The auditorium was absolutely stunning! I noted many of the same looks of amazement and delight upon the faces of the people I observed filing in to the grand room to find their seats. I wondered where these people had come from and how many were just like us – experiencing New York City for the first time? I felt fortunate to have such a spectacular view of the stage from our seats on the first tier of a five-level curvilinear seating area and, as the lights dimmed and the middle school children walked on to the stage, I was not sure what to expect next. I was, however, sure that the energy in the room was highly charged!
There were three groups performing that evening, with each playing five numbers. The first group was choir and the second was orchestra. Emily’s band group would be the last to perform. Having attended a few of her local school band recitals in the past, I was not quite prepared to hear voices and music as beautiful and moving as what came from that grand stage. These were just middle school kids, but what I observed and heard this night were professionals. All performers were highly skilled and polished, and the crowd clapped wildly after each number. It was almost unbelievable that these young people could be so talented.
As I watched Emily through my theater binoculars (a birthday gift from FD a few years back when he took me to a concert!), I realized I was seeing a young woman of discipline and confidence diligently playing her clarinet. I thought about what a diverse young lady she had become – flying planes and helicopters, learning to drive a vehicle, babysitting for friends, participating in softball, working a summer job detasseling corn, writing stories, and still finding time to practice the many instruments she plays. At that moment, I had never been so proud to be her Auntie. And, listening to my niece perform music with about a hundred other kids her age, under the direction of a famous conductor, I felt extremely thrilled to be sitting in this magnificent theater on my birthday. I might as well have just won the lottery.
Sunday morning, our last in The Big Apple, FD and I had an early breakfast downstairs, then dashed back upstairs to get packed. Our flight out of LaGuardia was not until late morning, but we were anxious to secure a cab to make sure we arrived at the airport in plenty of time. Jule’s family was flying back to Omaha later in the day and would spend time doing a little shopping for Em and Sid before heading to the airport themselves. After their trip to Yankee Stadium Friday night, I was not fretting or worrying about leaving them behind in New York City. That trip showed me they would be just fine without us.
Looking out the window of the cab as we wound our way through city streets and eventually to FDR Drive along the East River, I knew FD and I would return to New York City one day. Perhaps it would be to celebrate another birthday or memorable occasion. Thinking of this, I looked down at the new, black leather birthday sandals I was wearing and smiled – these would be a little memory of our trip that I would wear with my new summer dresses.
We had enjoyed a grand week in the big town, but I was happy and excited to be heading home to Oklahoma to return to my small-town life. I looked forward to settling back into the day’s work and my regular routine. Soon, my birthday sandals would come off, and I would put on those dusty work boots of mine and feel the comfort they brought me… and I would be grateful for my farm girl life.
Note: For those of you interested in my sister Jule’s documentation of the NYC trip, her blog is Groovy Love, Scrubs & Chimichangas.
© 2014 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…