The subways are clean in New York. Even on a rainy December day, only a few leaves litter the car’s floor and the 14th Street station is Singapore-clean. The old lady sitting next to me scootches over to let an African-American woman slide in with her small son. On my other side, a Korean woman chatters with her friend, flashing a white smile when we catch eyes. In Manhattan’s warm underground, where it smells of concrete, hot dogs, and humanity, it’s feeling merry.
On this quick trip that mixes a business meeting with the pleasure of seeing several friends, I have one whole day to myself. Wandering through jam-packed streets, I duck into the madness of Whole Foods in Union Square for lunch. There are thirty-something cash registers and lines twenty deep–this place feels like peace, love, joy, and hurry the f#$% up–but it smells like heaven.
Sitting in the cafe, eating my sushi roll and gluten-free cherry scone (HIGHLY recommend!) a tall, excruciatingly lovely young woman sits next to me. She is picking at a salad and texting away. I’m sure she is a famous model and think about how cool it must be to live that life in this city–until I remember I was a model here when I was 19. It was nine-months of lonely misery and after nine months, I packed up and went home to sunny California.
Four months away from the U.S. has given me a new appreciation for it. And four months of non-stop family time has made me appreciate a solitary journey—one that ironically takes place surrounded by millions of people. “Is it snowing there, Mommy?” Ado wants to know when I call to check in. Not yet. “Is it Christmas time there?” Oh baby, is it ever, I tell my little boy. And then I duck back into the clean, warm subway to catch a train to Rockefeller Center for another frenzy of holiday cheer.