I’ve been posting less frequently, and for that I do apologize. However, the energy typically reserved for writing about the process of seeking beauty has been filled with self-care, reminders to practice gentle acceptance, and travel. A little bit of travel.
I’m no expert in grief; yet I’ve heard it said when you experience a loss, people often travel. They want to get away from the place where life was shared with a loved one, where memories and unanticipated triggers lurk around neighborhood corners, seep out from radio speakers in love songs, and smack you overhead as you eat dinner at an old favorite restaurant. I can understand this sentiment and we, too, sought respite from the reminders. Our family has planned some travel this year, and last weekend we ventured to New York City – a place full of wonderful diversity, adventure, and distraction.
Being from Northern Colorado, it is not a surprise that diversity, true diversity, is lacking in my home community. One subway ride in New York City, and I was exposed to more types of people than I ever am back at home. I found myself thinking as we rode the train from Uptown to Midtown, how much of a beautiful phenomenon it is that I can come together and share a train ride with people so very different than myself. Yet, for fifteen to twenty minutes, we had something in common – our desire to move from here to there – even if the “there” destination was different. I liked knowing, feeling, this human connection that we all have purpose, if only in the need to get from here to there.
Those subway trains are magic – kinda like a time-traveling tube of metal – it is an amazing system that moves thousands of people every day. Each time we climbed the steps up from underground, into the bright sunlight, I had to take a moment to orient myself to our new location. I found myself getting bumped and prodded as our group would move to the side of the street – trying to navigate where to go next. When you are an individual in a constant flood of people, it is easy to shy away, step back, move to the side.
About half way through our trip, though, I had another realization:
“You know what?” I thought to myself, “I have just as much right to take up space as any other human here.”
And this realization changed my whole approach to the rest of our time in the city. Sure, I can be kind, and polite, and patient – but I, too, deserve a spot on that train. New Yorkers have a bad reputation for being pushy, assertive, and bold to a fault. Yet they fill their space with confidence. I can be brave and bold and share my story without hesitation. If you spend your time waiting for others to let you in, you are going to get left out. Jump in, forge ahead, push to the front of the line.
I realized just how out of character the idea of being first is for me. Both my brother and my husband made fun of me as I anxiously pushed to the front of the line at NBC Studios.
We entered the lottery to see Jimmy Fallon and for months I looked forward to the event. So when I dragged my family to the sign-in location twenty minutes early, and pushed to the front of the doors of the studio with herds of other people, my brother yelled, “Katie, you are going to have to sit without us!” I kept charging ahead, looking back and responding “Come on! We are going to make this happen!” Yes, we all did get to sit together, and no, I wasn’t in the front row. But I carved out my space for myself in a famous location, with laughter in my heart and confidence in my step.
There is beauty in changing up the scenery of your life. Beauty in traveling, in pondering in different spaces, and in coming to the realization that yes, in a city of over eight million people, you matter too.