Monday, January 7, 2013

Reflecting on Atlanta & NYC

What an action packed, blessing filled past 17 days! We are back in North Little Rock after a whirlwind trip to Atlanta and NYC.

So much happened while we were gone, that in many ways, I feel like I've come back to Arkansas a different person...

Part of that is probably due to the condition I was in when we left. I hadn't been feeling well for two weeks prior to leaving for Atlanta, but I figured I was just suffering from a bunch of different little ailments. When I woke up Sunday morning in Atlanta, too sick to attend my dearest friends' baby shower (which was the whole reason we came into town as early as we did) I gave into the reality that nurse Lindsay was out of excuses and solutions. So, while the boys went out golfing, my sweet mother took me to an urgent care center down the street where the doctor informed me that I had the worst kind of sinus infection possible. (I feel it is only right to mention here that David had told me a week prior that he thought I had a sinus infection, and he wanted me to go to the doctor. I was stubborn and said no. I should have listened.) Thankfully, it didn't take too long for all the prescription medicine to start working and by Christmas I was feeling much better.

We loved getting to spend time with my immediate family in Atlanta and cherished getting to spend quality time with many of our friends as well.

Before we knew it, we were repacking our suitcases to fly up to NYC. My wonderful Dad drove us VERY early to the airport New Year's Eve morning. We were so excited and so happy to be on the T-Terminal because at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, T-Terminal gets it's own security checkpoint. So, it's much faster than if you have to go through the main one. Our flight was perfectly uneventful, and soon enough we were looking right out our window at the Statue of Liberty.

Knowing that the city was going to be super busy on New Year's Eve, we had made prior arrangements for a car to pick us up at the airport and take us down to our hotel in Times Square. I've been in swerve-ier car rides. When our driver informed us that the street our hotel was on was already blocked off for the evening's festivities, and we would therefore have to walk half a block in the madness with our luggage, I put my acting skills to good use and put on my "don't-mess-with-me" face.  We managed a bee-line the half-block to our hotel (mostly against the flow of foot-traffic) and happily were able to check in early after grabbing a bite for lunch.

Things We Learned About New Year's Eve in Times Square...
1. Everything is blocked off. That is why people line up so early. Also, they don't leave. They are there the whole time. Our hotel was on W 44th St. We had a couple tour buses (we think they were for Carley Ray Jepsen because we saw one of her dancers) on our street, so at a certain point we couldn't walk any closer to Times Square. If your intention is to be out in the middle of Times Square New Year's Eve, get there early and wear good shoes.
2. Every police officer must be on duty that night. They're everywhere, which made me feel very safe.
3. They practice the count-down for the ball to drop every hour on the hour. It is hilarious! It'll be 8pm and you'll hear everyone counting down, and then an hour later you'll hear it again...
4. Saju Bistro on W 44th is so good. A very, very nice man on the street noticed David and I exploring, asked us where we'd be eating that night, and pointed us to Saju Bistro. I ordered the salmon and David ordered the lobster risotto. We literally switched plates. To make risotto that good is now on my list of things to accomplish. Also, they serve the most addicting olive tamponade. I had to ask our waitress what was in it... My jaw actually dropped open when she informed me that anchovies were what make it so yummy. Anchovies?!?! Well, I have a new appreciation for those salty little fishes, for sure! I'm so glad that nice man stopped us on the street and directed us inside. It was an incredibly special second anniversary dinner.
5. The confetti is amazing. It is everywhere. For days! On Friday morning when we left NYC (which would be four mornings later) there was still confetti outside of our hotel!

Things That Were Just As Cool About NYC As I'd Hoped They'd Be...
1. The Empire State Building: David had bought us tickets to both observation decks before we left Atlanta. The first thing we did New Year's Day was walk there. The 86th observation deck was too windy and cold for me to really enjoy it, but the 102nd was truly something. I'd read that New Year's Day, in the morning, is the best day of the year to explore NYC. David had the foresight, having been to the Empire State Building before, to decide that we should go there first as the lines can get very long. We had no line, and only had to share the 102nd deck with a handful of other people.
2. Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill: Bobby Flay is our favorite television chef. We love his shows, have his cookbook, and have always wanted to eat at one of his restaurants. When we arrived at Mesa Grill Wednesday night, we were bursting with excitement. Our waitress (who shares with me an allergy to cilantro) was wonderfully attentive, our food was INCREDIBLE, and their pastry chef even wrote "Happy Anniversary" on our dessert plate.
3. Broadway: We weren't sure if we were going to see a show or not while we were in NYC, so when David suggested we run over to The Majestic to check the prices out for The Phantom of the Opera I was pleasantly surprised. When we got inside and saw they were running a 2-hour deal on the next day's matinee, we were shocked and picked up two front mezzanine seats for a steal! The performance was exceptional. And, David will even tell you that it was one of his favorite experiences on our trip.
4. NY Cheesecake: If you know me well, you know that I LOVE CHEESECAKE. The majority of my birthday cakes have been cheesecakes. Cheesecake Factory has been privy to several of my birthday celebrations, nursing school graduation celebration, after David proposed he took me to Cheesecake Factory where our families were waiting for us... That should help you understand me and cheesecake. Our very good friend, James, and David's cousin, Noah, had both told us about a restaurant called Junior's who apparently carries good cheesecake. When our waiter at John's Pizzeria across the street from Junior's also told us Junior's had the best cheesecake, we couldn't avoid the signs. Yes. Yes, Junior's has the best cheesecake. : )

Things NYC Made Me Appreciate...
1. Being raised in the South: Oh my goodness... I feel like I could write a lot about this. But, I don't have all of those thoughts organized just yet. I hope to get them organized and write about them soon. Stay tuned...
2. Being in good health. We walked EVERYWHERE. We only took taxi's when it was just physically too cold. I was so grateful to have two legs and feet that could carry my body all day across an entire city.
3. Dr. Pepper and Bottled Water. I was very surprised that no one carried Dr. Pepper and that bottled water was so difficult to find some places.
4. Our lifestyle. I feel like I'm learning a lot about lifestyles right now. I'm learning that your lifestyle is a choice. This, like my first point, is a topic I'm still decompressing. And, I'm not talking about gender preferences and controversial stuff like that. I'm talking about how you choose to live your life. Do you choose to rush rush rush? Do you choose to go with the flow? Do you choose balance, and balance of what? Do you choose at all? Or do you let someone else choose for you? Who's a part of your life? What do you let in? How does your life happen? There's not one best lifestyle, but there is a best lifestyle for you and for your family. I'm still learning about this...

Friday came quickly, and soon we were back at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and Dad was picking us back up. We had one last night with my family in Atlanta. Paul, my brother, had spent the week at the Passion conference. So, we were so excited to hear about all that The Lord had been doing that week through our home church, and the ways that He was working in and through Paul as students from all over the country convened under One name.

I never EVER thought I would be so happy to be back in Arkansas, but we when stepped back into our little red house Saturday afternoon I could have melted right into the floor. As we begin to shift gears back into work for me and school for David next week, we happily remember how much we packed into two weeks and embrace the slower pace of North Little Rock.

And so we begin our third year of marriage, our second semester of law school, and our first Arkansas winter. We're excited to see what the Lord has in store for us this year. With our hearts surrendered, and our hope in Him alone, we can hardly imagine what's ahead... : )