My wife and I love to visit NYC, and we have had plenty of opportunities since our eldest began college at Eugene Lang / The New School in the mid nineties. After a few years in Chicago, she returned to permanent residence in Brooklyn seven years ago.
But now she is at one of those life moments when she needs the solace and sanctuary of home, and I helped her move back to Minnesota late last week. On Wednesday morning, I departed Northfield, Mn and traveled the 1200 miles to Brooklyn in my SUV in a day and a half. Thirty six hours after crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, the SUV headed back to Mn pulling a UHAUL filled with books and her meager worldly goods. Daughter and dad arrived back in Northfield in time for Mom’s Sunday birthday. After 2500 miles on the road in four plus days, I am ready for a little downtime at the computer while daughter locates the nearest Yoga studio.
The first time I journeyed from Mn to NYC was in the fall of 1966 as my parents drove me to my freshman year at Dartmouth. This small town boy was scared shitless. We spent a few days in the big city with Dad’s brother Lloyd serving as tour guide. The Empire State Building, street celebration in Little Italy, fancy German restaurant that loaned us ties when we entered, and the rest is a blur.
In recent years with our daughter living in Brooklyn, we have enjoyed the occasional Broadway show, the singing wait staff at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, the subway, Tom’s Breakfast diner on Washington Avenue in Brooklyn, the west village, Brooklyn botanical gardens, and getting to know our daughter’s eclectic New York friends.
Now, as we journeyed west, I shared memories of my own pilgrimages back and forth across the upper tier of states east of the Mississippi. During the Dartmouth years, there were numerous road trips along the I-80, I-90 corridor. I’m not sure if my daughter paid much attention to my reminiscing about the flat tire blowout in the fast lane of the Dan Ryan Expressway around Chicago, the side trips into Canada at Buffalo and reentry at Detroit to avoid toll roads, the ritual bar stop for a quick beer in Whitehall, New York after crossing Vermont to celebrate the 18 year old drinking age, the deer that we hit in Wisconsin, the night spent in the Tomah, Wisconsin jail after getting a 2 am speeding ticket without enough cash to pay the fine, and other Kerouac/On the Road moments.
The world has turned countless times since I first followed these freeways and toll roads over forty years ago. I suspect those concrete paths are much the same now as then. Even if my daughter wasn’t listening to my stories, I was.