My brother had the superb idea to gift my mom with a trip to the U.S. Open for her 70th birthday. We grew up with tennis fanatics who cheered on the greats through decades of grand slams. My fond memories growing up include our family doubles matches, and my mom continues to play weekly with her tennis ladies. Because my brother and I married the most selfless spouses ever, we were able to join my parents on the trip while Peter’s wife Robin & my husband Mike stayed back with our kids. (We obviously married the most awesome spouses in the universe.)
Mike even let me go early to spend time with one of my dearest friends, Lisa. We spent the first day walking around the city. I loved just being in the big metropolis; it made me realize how much I miss the urban scene. Some may think the concrete jungle is a place where they could never live, but I was soaking in the city life with deep appreciation. I breathed in the constant activity, the wide diversity of people where every walk of life can feel they can fully be themselves in a city large enough to handle it, the extensive public transportation, the countless choices of restaurants and the reminder that your life is but one of millions.
We walked across the iconic Brooklyn bridge, a beautiful structure with picturesque views:
We passed Lady Liberty in the distance. May we not forget her timeless words:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Street dancers doing their thing:
My 3rd cup of caffeine to combat the effects of a red-eye flight was from Blue Bottle Coffee. I loved these windows along the High Line park (former elevated tracks converted into public park space). I especially loved the iced coffee on tap.
I miss impressive architecture like this Lower Manhattan building by Frank Gehry:
We walked EVERYWHERE which was possible due to hidden parks like these whose soothing fountains and random violinists provided a welcome respite for our tired feet:
After a full day of exploring the city, we headed back across the bridge and enjoyed this evening skyline view:
My family arrived the next day and we met up near Broadway for dinner and a show, Motown the Musical. It was probably the most fun musical I have watched, and the highest review one could give it was that my dad did NOT fall asleep.
Yes, we were dripping with sweat from the hot sun beating down on us during mid-day matches, but being at the U.S. Open to watch my mom’s favorite sport live and in person was a great experience. We got to see the top players in action: Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Andy Murray, Jo-Wilifred Tsonga, Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova, Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori, Stan Wawrinka, and Victoria Azarenka. As amazing as it was to watch these athletes dance on the court, my favorite match was on the smaller court 17 with the unseeded American mixed doubles team. We wanted to cheer them on especially 18 y/o Taylor Townsend who hails from Chicago’s south side. It was such an intimate setting that I am pretty sure she heard me shout, “Chicago in the house!” :) The crowd was fully invested in this match, and one lady nearby spontaneously nicknamed our girl Tay-Dawn which caught on with other spectators in our enthusiastic audience. They won a close match, and my brother Peter caught one of their autographed tennis balls Donald Young hit into the crowd. Our fellow Tay-Dawn fans joked with him that he deserved it for cheering well but if he was done with it they would gladly take it from him now.
Our family stayed near the tournament in the Flushing/Queens area which meant we were in little Asia. Not only were we surrounded by our peeps, but we also had a multitude of glorious food options none of us have in our own towns. We ate delicious Korean food twice. We had Chinese-Korean style food including this cold jellyfish salad with hundred year egg that I photographed for my husband who would have loved the availability of less common foods:
We had a dim sum feast that started with these staples:
We also had our fill of Asian style bakeries:
The last day my parents left after breakfast, but Peter and I headed back to Manhattan. We would have liked to have met up with my friend Eddie who unfortunately was sick, but were glad to have followed his suggestion to eat at the quintessential New York deli, Katz. We had the famous pastrami and the Reuben.
We went to the World Trade Center and visited the new 9/11 Memorial Museum.
In the midst of the hustle and bustle, I was able to see extended family (my cousin Bomyee) and precious folks I knew from college (Lisa), from St. Louis (Sunny), and from Chicago (Linda & Christine). Life has blessed me with so many treasured friendships over the cities and years, and it is always great to catch up in person. It made me even more thankful that my parents were able to do the same with their friend, Mrs. Jo, whom they have known since before I was born. As my friend Lisa and I were reflecting that we have known each other for 21 years of life’s ups and downs, my mom and Mrs. Jo have been sharing that bond for double the time. It was lovely listening to them reminisce and have Mrs. Jo tell Peter and me that there are very few people about whom she can say she feels completely comfortable with and my parents are among that cherished handful.
Mom and Mrs. Jo catching up on the streets of Flushing, NY
Overall it was such a wonderful trip filled with the comforts of city life. It sounds strange to describe crowded, hot subways and tough attitudes as comforting but for me that is exactly what it was. My muscles were happily sore from so much walking around the easily accessible city. Every location has its advantages and disadvantages. It is a gift to be able to experience so many different places and adapt to appreciate all each has to offer. I will always LOVE the large city. New York definitely made me feel brand new. ;) Yet as I type this, I am enjoying the peaceful serenity of the Sandia Mountains. In some ways, I find the comforts of home while simultaneously homesick for what is lacking in every setting. Ultimately no matter where I am, I am thankful that home is truly where my 3 guys are and that God gives the grace to grow us all in whatever setting He has chosen for us in each season.