Monday, September 06, 2010

The beginning. Finally.

Someone once said that the best way to realize how blessed you are is to compare notes from the beginning and the end. Dominic and I have gotten into the habit of doing this with weekly prayers. I've learned to notice exactly how specific needs are met or concerns are calmed over time.

It seems like we have plenty needs and concerns these days so I decided to publicly document the beginning of our time in New York. I had a lot of initial reactions and some pretty memorable first-day experiences so I thought you might get some entertainment while I give us something to look back on and laugh about a few years.
After some hurricane Earl drama I was scheduled on a flight to land in Newark. The unintended benefit to landing in a different state? The best train into Manhattan goes right to Penn Station and I was warmly welcomed by Madison Square Garden.

Dominic took me 'home' and I was shocked at how big our apartment was. I don't think it has any more square feet than the last place we lived, but the layout is different so it feels bigger. In the apartment I love our foyer and our bedroom. They have extra space that we can use for relaxing as far away from my workspace as possible.

I began to realize that we were spoiled in our Queen Anne building. In Seattle we had big closets, blinds, a sink disposal, a microwave, countertops and a full-length mirror. Here, although we have none of those conveniences, we do have a fire escape, a 'kitchen nook', four bathtub handles, windows in every room, and neighbors who barbeque on the sidewalk (more on that later). Our floors have had a very long and difficult life. Dominic refers to them as rustic or 'highly distressed' which he has tried to convince me people will pay a premium for.

After relaxing for a bit in our new place Dominic took me out to see Fordham and our neighborhood. It was a beautiful day and Fordham is a very pretty campus. Just look at that picture! It could be in an alumni magazine. To get into campus you have to show a student ID so the grounds are calm, quiet and pristine. We visited the cathedral and Dominic showed me where his classes are held.

Fordham is very close to an Italian community so we stopped for pizza and gelato at a tasty cafe. Dominic has been living on pizza alone for a few weeks and I can imagine why. It was delicious! The slices were conveniently served on paper plates so it's easy to pick up, fold in half and walk down the street with your snack. I'm not good at the folding yet so we sat and enjoyed people watching on Arthur Avenue.

Arthur Avenue, in and of itself should get it's own blog post. It's a bustling street with housewares shops, restaurants, parks, markets and tons of people. Not four hours into my NYC life we passed by a man urinating by the passenger side of his delivery van. Not one to judge the urgency of his situation I turned away wondering if there were different laws in New York, but ultimately decided he must have been in a hurry.

I'm not easily intimidated, but this area is busy. There are more people, more 99-cent stores, and more languages spoken (mostly Spanish) than I have ever experienced where I live. Each time I walk out of the building I'm greeted by the thumping rhythms of ethic beats. There's a fire hydrant which has been spraying the street for three days and twice I've seen cars deliberately drive by for a shower. The key to this new life is to remember that this is my home and my neighborhood. I'm not visiting.

I was pretty thrilled with the Italian market stands. I bought a bunch of fresh basil and a quarter pound of fresh mozzarella for $3, figs, vine ripened tomatoes, and my very own houseplant all on one street. Feeling ambitious, I also suggested we stop at the local grocery store.

Grocery shopping will take a little getting used to. Cereal for $4.99 a box? Unfriendly checkers? Strange looks at my reusable bag? Toto we're not in Seattle anymore. We returned home exhausted and hungry. Good thing I'm crazy about caprese salads.

On Sunday Dominic and I went to church by Central Park. We tried out Redeemer Presbyterian because it had received such rave reviews from our friends around the country. I was impressed and I think we'll go back. The challenge for us is reframing our proximity mindset. Instead of walking up the street to church we may have to schedule a 30 minute metro ride into the city. Instead of connecting with a Bible study on Tuesday evenings we might have to find a volunteer project closer to home. We'll see how that goes.

After church, Dominic and I walked to the pier and took the Circle Line boat tour around the island. It was a beautiful day and a perfect way to be introduced to our new city.

We learned that this morning (and every morning) two out of every five people will wake up in this city having been born in another country.

It's almost as if Emma Lazarus was writing about us:

"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-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" Send these, the Monleys!

1 comment:

Peggy said...

Thank you, thank you, Sarah, for such a great tour of your part of the great metropolis. Put some pictures of the apartment on your blog, when you get settled. All this helps me imagine you in your space. I am so grateful that you are such a succinct "journaler" because now I feel much closer to you even though more than 3000 miles separate us ( at least it is not half a world away.) Love to you both.............Peg/Mom