As I’ve spent time overseas I’ve realized that college students in Asia usually know a good amount more about our country than I do about theirs. They always ask about Hollywood and New York City, and I always embarrassingly tell them I’ve never visited either one. They gasp, try to understand what kind of strange American who hasn’t even visited my home country has made it to their side of the world and we move on. So I decided to use some Christmas money and free time to take a trip with my good friend Monica who has been at my side for everything from middle school art class to learning to drive to seeing 8 Mile when it came out in the theater. Here are 10 thoughts about our few days there:
1. This has happened before, but being in a really big city makes me feel small in, I think, a really good way. Seeing window after window for as far as I can see makes me think about how each window represents a person’s home or work or whatever. And each of those people has their own hopes, dreams, crushing defeats, etc. So in a really healthy way, I like that being in a big city rather than the small town I call home, makes me feel like my life is not so important and certainly not ultimate. In the big picture perspective of how many people live on earth, my life is quite small.
2. I love China. And I miss it. But hearing Mandarin, eating Sichuan food and drinking milk tea without 30 hours of travel are wonderful!
3. One of the first things I would do with a million dollars is hire a driver. I love being driven around, mostly because I feel like I can do other things while getting somewhere and it feels very productive. That’s not as related to NYC but it was sealed in my mind as we took a cab here and there.
4. I thought of a Seinfeld reference approximately every 3 minutes. Every place in the city reminded me of an episode! “Oh look Elaine, the black and white cookie. I love the black and white. Two races of flavor living side by side in harmony. It’s a wonderful thing isn’t it?”
5. Magnolia Bakery cheesecake. Wow. Worth the cost of flights? definitely. I didn’t take a picture, probably because I was inhaling it.
6. Traveling is fun and I love figuring out how to get around, etc. Its like a big puzzle to solve, but its never as exotic as it sounds. Struggling with the not fully up and running subway system (thanks to Sandy), finally finding central park just as it got dark and creepy, taking forever to figure out which way to go…. none of those things are fun when they’re happening. They make cool stories but aren’t as glorious at the time. (my friend Blair has written a hilarious post on this…)
7. Even with #6 being true, for me there’s something life-giving about doing something new. I know its cliche to say I love adventure, but I do.
8. If you’re going to travel and take lots of pictures during a cold time of year, at least bring more than one scarf! I promise there were different clothes underneath my blue coat and paisley scarf. I promise.
9. Old friends are the best because no matter how differently your lives turn out to be, they still know you. They know the you that had weird hair in middle school and refused to wear blue jeans for a number of years, and somehow they still love you.
10. I wish I could (would?) see God’s spiritual kingdom more. Huge structures, intricate transportation systems, tons of new development – these things amaze and humble me. They’re incredible to look at. Its too much to take in the whole skyline at once. I wish I saw the spiritual reality that God is building His Kingdom everyday. I know that His Kingdom will not fully come until Christ returns but all around us, He’s stacking spiritual stones into peoples’ lives and when we’re all compounded, its massive. His work is extensive, ongoing, intricate – its everything I love about seeing a big city. I wish I would more readily notice the sure foundation He’s building in a student’s life through struggles, or the groundwork being laid for missions through a group of people in prayer, or someone sharing the Gospel in Central Asia as the leveling of ground for the Kingdom to come.