Concrete Jungle Foray

I am a small-town girl. No, wait! I’m not even a small-town girl. I’m a Midwestern prairie girl. Cities make me nervous. Heck, even trees make me nervous. They make me feel closed in. I like to have rolling grasslands around me with a view that lets you watch approaching storms long before they arrive at your place. Where you can chart the progress of your neighbor’s plowing by the location of the dust he’s kicking up two fields over from your farm and you can see a visitor coming long before they pull into your driveway, giving you plenty of time to put the coffeepot on and heat up that pie.

I guess that’s why it’s been 31 years since I’ve been to New York City as a tourist, despite the fact that we’ve been living just one state over from the Big Apple. Sure, I’ve gone through the area to get to the airport back in the late ’80’s and I’ve touched down and changed planes several times at JFK Airport but seriously, it’s been 31 years since I’ve gotten out and walked around parts of the city. So I was a tad nervous about venturing there this past weekend but a group of us had signed up to go on a bus tour from Lancaster, PA to the Brooklyn Tabernacle to hear Jim Cymbala preach.

I almost didn’t get to go because at 10 p.m. the night before we were to leave, my husband looked at me and said, “Did you make any arrangements for the dog?” Yikes! I guess we’ve developed such an Empty Nester mentality that I had plum forgot that we had any living creature still dependent on us. We made some frantic phone calls and finally reached our Music Minister and friend, Phil who is easy-going and unflappable enough that we figured he would be least likely to run for the hills when faced with 17 pounds of fluffy white fury. Our usual dogsitting friends were off camping for the weekend so thankfully, he agreed to stop by the house and let Fresca out on his way to church in the morning and in the evening. Thanks, Phil!

We had to leave the house at 5:15 a.m. in order to meet the bus on time. I was NOT awake which is why there are no pictures. I forgot to take my camera. I did, however, remember to take my knitting so I managed to make considerable progress on the second sock that is destined for a Christmas gift.

As we approached the city, we could see the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building in the distance. My, they looked tiny. It’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it? The Brooklyn Tabernacle was awesome. It reminded me of the old movie theatre I used to go to back home with its Neo-classic, gilt decoration along the walls, the balcony, and the stage. And the people! My, the place was filled. It was just great to look out over the congregation and see such a diverse group, all worshiping together. The style of worship was more charismatic than that of my home church and I enjoyed it. It’s nice to feel free to raise your hands in worship or praise the Lord aloud.

After the service, our bus took us to Pier 17 where we were free to chose a restaurant for a late lunch and then wander around until it was time to head for home. We ate at a quasi-Irish pub. I wish I had a picture to show you of the french fries that came with my fish. They were perfect! I asked for them extra-crispy and they came with just the right amount of crunch. Had to ask twice for the side of mayo to dip them in but once that came, I was in carb heaven.

It was after lunch that NYC really started to get to me. There were people everywhere. You couldn’t just walk down the sidewalk without having to step around booths with vendors trying to sell you this or that. Buses galore, both tour and city buses, kept barreling past spewing noise and exhaust in their wake. Honking seemed to be the preferred method of communication between cars. I grasped my husband’s hand and said, “Get me to the nearest open field, NOW!”

There are people who are cut out to live in big cities and there are people who are cut out to live in more rural areas. There might even be some advantages to big city life. Give me another 31 years and I might think of some.

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