And so we finally made it to New York. I had no brilliant plans for the children -- a few days in a big city as a cultural counterweight to our small town. A chance to move briefly among a mass of people from around the world instead of seeing the usual crowd from around the block. A couple of good meals and subway rides, a show, a walk in the park, a tall building or two, maybe a museum or gallery. And of course a cab ride. That's how it started. There are a few experiences that kids should have if they can, and a New York taxi cab is one of them. I watched their eyes widen and widen. I heard their indrawn breaths. When we pulled in front of our hotel, two of them wanted to become cabbies. The other two wanted a bathroom.
Second day there, Sam and I had an intimate moment while the girls were buying gum at a specialty store and Ed was trying on shirts. He said, You really like this place, don't you, Dad. He did not mean Macy's.
I do, Sam, I said.
What do you like about it?
He wanted to understand. His mind seems scattered on the four winds at times, and yet he can be so focussed.
The speed, I say. The scale. The hot beef sandwiches at 3:00 am.
He thought about that.
How about you? I asked. You having fun? Would you come back?
Maybe, he said. But not with the family.
The girls phoned from Grand Central Station. They had got lost on the way to the gum store, and were trying to get back. Where was Macy's again? Hang on, I said, because Ed was talking. He wanted a rugby shirt, and he was hungry. Could he get a hot dog on the street like yesterday? Sam's eyes lit up, and the two of them raced off, leaving me holding the striped jersey and cell phone.
I told the girls to turn around, and begin walking towards the lower numbered streets, and to stop and call back when they got to 34th. I got in line to pay for the rugby shirt. And waited for the boys to call from Greenwich Village or Queens.
I have to disagree with Sam. New York with the family is a great trip.