Monday, November 9, 2009

To New York and back.

Last week, I went on a business trip to New York. I was attending a conference there - and I think its fair to say that I have never awaited ANY conference as eagerly as I did this one. While I am excited and passionate about Digital Marketing, the prospect of heading to New York was equally (ok, a little more - oh all right, it was a lot more) exciting than the conference itself.

The day before I was supposed to leave though, I started to have this nasty sinking feeling I get anytime I am getting on a plane without my kids. "How," I wondered, "will they cope without me?" ignoring the fact that they would have the undivided attention of their Dadddy - unimaginable luxury!! "But I am the constant in their routines, with Dad travelling so much. It will be worse for me to be gone," I couldn't stop torturing myself.

I went - and sulked some more - at myself, for being so far away. But then, I was in Manhattan. I checked into the hotel and stepped outside. The hotel was a few blocks from Time & LIfe building - my former workplace. So there I was, back in my old neck of the woods. Very soon, I was part of the crowd, merrily jostling away - hurrying to get wherever it was I was going - even if, that particualr day, it was nowhere in particular. I crossed the street as soon as I spotted a gap in the traffic - never mind the stop hand sign - I squeezed in the narrowest opening between crowds of people and shook my head in loud impatience when the two ladies in front of me paused to admire Rockerfeller center. "Tourists" - I almost, just **almost** muttered under my breath.

The next few days were great. The kids did miss me and it was hard for me to hear thier voices and imagine them being home without me. But then, I figured, "I'm here - I better make it worth it." The conference was great - a new perspective on how the world is thinking about what I do, catching up with trends, listening to the experts and chatting with new people I met. It reaffirmed my faith in what I do, reassured me that my skills were current and reenergized me to shore up on the areas I wasn't too familiar with. In the evening, I went to dinner with friends or even by myself - choosing from the fabulous array of cuisines and styles that only New York has to offer. I walked everywhere - taking in the sights, the smells - I had forgotten the smell of street food and the undescribable blend of metal, trash and god knows what else that combines in the subway stations. I soaked in the sheer excitement and energy while also at times, watching from afar - I had been here a few years ago, running like the crowds now were, falling asleep on the train, exhausted from my crazy commute and insane schedule. I had been here and it took me about 30 minutes to get adjusted. How dramatic all this must seem to someone who came here as a tourist. I understtod, for the first time, all the things people always said when I told them I lived in New York and loved it. At times, I felt sorry I had left. I had broken from the constantly surging crowd - Now, I felt, I was out of the game - my life felt staid, composed and frankly, a little boring.

The morning when I was supposed to leave, I spent a tad too much time shopping with friends and was running behind as we ran to the subway. "Hey, just get on the next flight if you miss this one - more time in NY!" laughed a friend. The mere thought made me tense up. I made it on time - to the airport and to the plane. A long flight later, as we touched down in Seattle, I broke into a run as I exited the plane. I couldn't wait to see my family again.

So, of course, home is where the heart is. Amazing how profound these cliches feel when you arrive at the realization yourself. Good friends, a great job, a warm house and yes, no sprinkler for the lawn. Seattle is home for now - dont know how long. Permanent migrants is the term P has coined for us - always looking ahead to what's next. Maybe back to New York, maybe even further back to India, maybe we'll head forward somewhere completely new. Who knows - I thought as I spotted the two heads bobbing up and down in excitement as they saw me exiting the airport. "What did you get for us, Mommy? What did you get?" "I brought myself back," I grinned at them.

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