Home is where…???

I think she said the 21st floor. Their apartment in Manhattan, just off Times Square, has a twenty-four hour doorman and a gleaming…GLEAMING marble floored lobby bigger and shinier than a skating rink. I took the express ground transport from LaGuardia Airport to Port Authority Bus Terminal and she met me there, all smiles, hugs, and anticipation. Joy. So aptly named.

I’m in New York for Thanksgiving and a long overdue visit. We walk the few blocks to their apartment talking non-stop and I don’t realize we have taken the elevator until the doors slide open. Joy shows me the  room she has prepared so beautifully for my stay and I immediately go to the window overlooking…OMG!

I gasp and take an involuntary step backward. It’s a long way down. They are in a penthouse apartment and the rooftop garden is directly above. She takes me up for a look. It is surreal. We can see the Statue of Liberty, the Hudson River, and Times Square. The lights from thousands of windows shimmer and dance. I’m suddenly dizzy.

Contrast. I have come from the tropical village of Ubud where my view includes infinite shades of green by day and velvet darkness at night, to the sensory overload of New York. Instead of the frogs, crickets and geckos singing me to sleep, the hum of traffic and an occasional siren lull me into slumber. I awaken, not to roosters crowing, but to blue skies, sunshine and honking horns. In spite of the altitude and my terror of heights, I’ve had an amazing sleep and can’t wait to get going. Joy has plans for the day.

We start out on foot toward the Hudson River. The Intrepid is docked there and the space shuttle Enterprise is now a permanent part of the exhibit on the immense aircraft carrier.

We do some power shopping and wind up at the Eataly for lunch. It is sensory overload! From the fruit stands to the endless varieties of artisan breads, the scents, sounds, and colors are a feast all by  themselves.

Joy has a Roasted Beet Salad and I order the Tuscan Bean Soup. Then we share. Delicious! Fortified, we continue on to check out tickets for Wicked on Broadway. A man playing a saxophone really really well, prompts Joy to trot over and make a financial donation to his effort.

And then we are in Time’s Square. It is a jaw-dropping spectacle no matter how many times I see it.

It’s Tuesday. What are all these people doing on the street? Shouldn’t they be at work somewhere? Unbelievable! Joy reminds me that it is Thanksgiving week and there are thousands of tourists here for the Macy’s parade.

About the time my feet go numb, we are home. Kellen arrives a few minutes later with bags of ingredients that will be essential for Thanksgiving dinner. After eating way too much of Joy’s killer lasagne, we curl up to watch a movie. It is a perfect end to a fabulous day. And in spite of the glaring contrasts, there are similarities that make me feel almost at home. For instance, diversity. People of every ethnicity are plentiful. Languages other than English are spoken everywhere. There are snarly traffic jams and crazy drivers but I didn’t see a single motorbike…not one.

And, come to think of it, there were no offerings to step over on the sidewalks, and no fragrant incense wafting through the air. Nobody offered us transport. There were no sarongs for sale. I didn’t see a single woman carrying a basket on her head. And there were no monkeys in the street. Grover, Cookie Monster, Mini Mouse, and Batman made an appearance, but not a single monkey.

The contrasts make me think of the things I appreciate about Bali. I can marvel at all this phenomenal city has to offer. I can immerse myself in it and fully enjoy the experience. But I will always feel like a visitor. And even though it is my country, and the culture is familiar, and I have loved ones here, it has not called my name. No place but one has ever spoken to me. A little dot on the map on the other side of the world found me and I know it patiently awaits my return. Who could have guessed…?

Photo from the back of Ketut’s motorbike, waiting for the light to change.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. gigicullins
    Nov 21, 2012 @ 04:04:06

    Great post, Sherry! You look wonderful…happy and healthy! There is a light in your eyes I’ve never noticed before and it’s so good to see. I think you have found your place in the world…and it’s not NYC. So glad you are getting to spend some time with Joy…and I agree…she is aptly named! When are you going back to Ubud? If I remember correctly…sometime after January 1st? Do you know yet where you will be in early to mid July 2013? I’ll be in Minneapolis for a week then. Still want to come over to Bali to see you as well. Have a wonderful holiday season!! Give the girls my love.

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Nov 21, 2012 @ 09:31:55

      Thanks, Gloria. I hop on the plane in MN on New Year’s Day and will arrive in Bali on the 3rd of January 30 hours later after crossing numerous time zones (I should figure out exactly how many) and two layovers, one in Taipei and one in Singapore. Back to MN in July for Jenny’s wedding shower. Hopefully we can connect then.

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      • gigicullins
        Dec 24, 2012 @ 04:13:38

        That would be great, Sherry. We will keep in touch. Hope it works out that way. I would still like to get to Bali but need to wait until the project passes a couple deadlines to make sure it won’t cause a problem for me making airline reservations…

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  2. Lottie Nevin
    Nov 21, 2012 @ 22:19:04

    Sounds like you are having a fabulous time Sherry. That view from the 21st floor made me dizzy just looking at it!

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Nov 22, 2012 @ 06:02:05

      Lottie! Happy Thanksgiving! Joy tells me it’s actually the 24th floor…but at this altitude it’s all relative. And your view in Jakarta is equally as dizzying as I recall from your recent photos! It is great to be in New York with my dear, loving daughter and her animated, doting partner. I couldn’t be more grateful for my family, my friends, and this beautiful life.

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