Happiness Highlights: Running from Irene

This past week did not turn out at all as expected and included not one, but two natural disasters.

And yet it was a perfectly wonderful week. Go figure.

NYCNightSkylinefromNolitanNYCMorning I started my week still in New York City, reviewing a new hotel in Manhattan called The Nolitan. I was looking forward to a day of exploring the city on my own and two nights sleeping in a queen-sized bed all by myself. I usually sleep wonderfully in a hotel.

I loved the hotel. The location was perfect for a wannabe urbanite and the view allowed me to watch the sun rise and set over an iconic skyline. That being said, I was surprised to find that I did not sleep so well in the big plush bed alone and wandering Manhattan by myself was less rewarding than walking around with my husband and kids. When the hell did that happen? It was relaxing to be able to set my own schedule and not have someone else’s mood or bathroom habits interfere, but I missed being able to share the experience. None the less, I was grateful for the time and space in my favorite city, particularly for the 30 minutes just before and after dark when I got to revel in an amazing view.

Speaking of amazing views…

MysticCT081 By Wednesday, we were in Mystic, Connecticut. This was meant to be a quick stop as we made our way towards Providence, Rhode Island and Boston, Massachusetts, where we planned to spend a couple weeks enjoying New England. Thanks to Hurricane Irene, Mystic became our only New England experience. We spent our day at the Mystic Aquarium and a local Native American museum.

I adore taking my kids to aquariums.

They both love animals so much and watching them together in these places has become one of my greatest joys.

I have to tell you, I read sentences like that and have to stifle a yawn and an eye roll. When did I become one of those women who delights in taking her kids to the aquarium? I feel like I’ve spent 11 years feeling guilty for not being “that kind” of mom, and in less than 3 months I’ve fallen head over heels in love with the job. It’s bizarre. But whatever, I was butt-wiggling happy at the aquarium.

And then, three months after leaving Florida, we got our very first hurricane evacuation notice.

We hemmed and hawed about whether or not to take our chances with friends in Rhode Island, but in the end decided we really didn’t want to deal with power outages, high winds, or massive amounts of rain. So we packed up and headed West. On one hand, it was freaky to realize how fragile our home is; our last home was made of concrete specifically to protect us from hurricanes. But with fragility comes agility; it took us less than 12 hours to change course and find ourselves just a few miles from one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen with my own two eyes.

NiagaraFallsatDusk Niagara Falls is not a bad backup plan.

Prior to our arrival, I hadn’t been overly excited to see the falls. They were on our list because it seemed like they should be, but I’d never had any burning desire to visit. I had no idea what I was missing. We took the Maid of the Mist boat ride into the horseshoe falls and climbed the wooden paths of the Cave of the Winds, which gave us a chance to get soaked and really feel the power of the rushing water up close. And then, of course, we had the chance to just look for hours and hours, which we did.

Standing in front of this natural marvel stirs questions of all kinds. Where does the water come from? Where does it go? Why in the hell would anyone try to go over the falls in a barrel? What are the most important things in my life? Should I make Emma cut her bangs?

The questions come as fast and furious as the water.

But so does a calm, an awe and peace from knowing that the answers are few and many, simple and insignificant. We can spend time trying to figure it out, or we cannot, and the water keeps pounding on and over the edge. It’s like the ocean that way, another liquid safe haven for me. We matter and we don’t; we are larger than life and not. We are whatever and where ever the hell we want to be.

For that I am constantly grateful.

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