I just witnessed a classic NYC tourist subway mistake. I tried to help, I really did but when I realized they couldn’t hear me I gave up and sat back to watch. I watched and reminisced of a time that was once my mother and I; the perfect Segway into a blog post I’ve been working on for months but could never figure out what to open with. These tourists reminded me of a memory made with my mom that I will never forget thus creating my lead in. They sat on the platform of the L train on 8th Avenue, looking at their map and panicking because neither train had the letter on it they were looking for. It’s the first and last stop of the L train so theres only ONE way to go. It doesn’t matter which side of the platform, they are both Brooklyn bound L trains. They were likely supposed to be getting on the A,C, or E which is the same station but up the stairs and a whole different platform. I tried to help and then chuckled. I think I might have even said “look at these turds” in my mind, maybe even out loud which isn’t very nice but still funny and I’m allowed to find humor in it because that was us once, a very very long time ago. My mother and I had come to NYC my Senior year of high school for a freshman welcoming weekend, my second ever trip to NYC. We got a tour of the dorms, the school and met the people in charge of the dance program at Marymount. We wanted to take a trip to Canal street to shop. I shutter at the thought of that now. “Handbags, you want handbags? Watches? You want Rolex watches?” the tiny little Chinese ladies ask under their breathe as you pass. Don’t say yes or you will likely be kidnapped and sold into sex slavery. I’m kidding of course…I think. I dunno for sure but don’t do it. Anyways, we were given directions to take the N, Q,R, or W train so we entered the station at 42nd street and went down the stairs to the platform, not thinking and not realizing that there were multiple train lines at that one station and that they didn’t share a platform. We waited and waited and waited but the train we needed never came. Tons of others passed but none were that yellow line we were supposed to be on. Frustrated and sick of waiting, we asked someone for help. They told us we were had to go up the stairs and follow a few paths to that platform. We giggled as we walked through the gigantic and crazy station of times square, learning to read and follow the signs more carefully. That was one of many memorable memories my mom and I made in this city.
My mother and I have always been close. Maybe it’s because I’m an only child. Maybe it’s because I spent every waking hour other than school or dance with her until I was a teenager. She used to drag me to everything. Her jobs, art school, grocery shopping, you name it, I was with her. Her little shadow as she has always called me. When I moved halfway across the country for college it was hard on both of us but for me, missing my mom and dad was so hard I couldn’t sleep and had a nonstop ache in my gut. I wish FaceTime was a thing then. Maybe it would have been easier. My mom would fly out regularly and we’d spend weekends drinking chai tea lattes from Starbucks while we got manicures and pedicures. Then she’d leave again and sadness would kick back in. I’ll never forget that first year. In mid November I got bronchitis. I felt terrible and all I wanted was my mom. In truth, even still at 32 years old, when I get sick, I want my mom. Tom actually has a joke that he has long worn out. Whenever something even slight happens to me; a headache, stubbed toe, sneeze, he asks if my mom is coming. I wish.
Over the years here in NYC, my mom has come to visit me a lot, both just for fun and for special occasions like graduations, milestone birthdays and wedding dress shopping. I still miss my mom everyday but thanks to modern technology, we’re able to text regularly and send hourly cat memes via instagram. Seriously though, every hour.
Over the last 14 years she’s probably been here at least 30 times and those first two years probably make up half of that. We have a lot of stand out memories like the time went to Coney Island for the day and got caught in a rain storm coming back that was so heavy we might as well have worn our clothes into the ocean. My mom was wearing a blue dress and as we stood in Blockbuster (remember those?) to pick out a movie for what was clearly going to be a rainy night, we dripped from head to toe and my mom’s dress bled blue dye all down her legs. We giggled about it all the way home as we noted that the rain in NYC is unlike any rain we ever see in Denver. In that same walk we probably passed the homeless guy that lived in front of the bodega on 94th and 2nd and yelled out “Hey! Mom’s still got it goin on!” For years I’d pass him and smile as I knew he had made a pass at my mother. I am pretty sure he has since passed from liver failure.
When I turned 21, she flew to NYC for the weekend to help me celebrate. We went to the New York City Ballet, had a three course dinner with dessert drinks and finished the night at some uptight club. It was the start of many silly one-too-many-wines with my mom. Growing up I never saw my mom drink other than a wine or two with holiday dinners. She never had a wine Wednesday and never ever did I see her drunk. The night before my wedding was the first time in my life I saw my mom sauced and oh boy what an experience it was. I didn’t drink that night, I wanted to stay fresh and get a good nights sleep. My mom however, drank for the both of us. In reality she didn’t drink much but the combination of high altitude and fatigue from putting together a wedding basically all by herself caught up. It was equal parts hilarious and equal parts mortifying. I watched her chat it up with my friends, laugh at her own jokes and say inappropriate (yet hilarious) things to my best friends husband. I watched, jaw dropped as I absorbed the fact that I was indeed my mothers daughter. Drunk Sally is basically drunk Jessica and anybody who has ever been looped up around me knows, two of us is two too many.
One time several years before that, she was in town for the weekend and we got a little silly together so I didn’t realize the similarities. We were in Times Square visiting some other family members that were also in town and after we went to dinner. We had a few wines and when we got out we thought it would be a great idea to take one of those bicycle carriage things. It cost more or less $3 per minute but we didn’t care. We asked him how far we could get for $20. Confused that we didn’t have a destination he told us we could get about 20 blocks uptown. Not far but we hopped in anyways. We laughed the whole way up 6th Avenue as he zigged in and out of traffic taking selfies to document our adventure. Another mentionable moment is the time we got lunch at Whole Foods and brown bagged it with a bottle of wine in Union Square Park.
My mom has come to NYC for both my graduations, dance performances, three of the five NYC marathons I ran, a surgery I had to have, my 21st and 30th birthday, to help me move into my first apartment, my bridal shower and wedding (the legal one). We have most certainly made some memories here together, special ones at that but what I really take from my time here in NYC and the relationship I have with my mother is the shift from mother to friend. Obviously she will always be my mom and I will always need her for support, advice, and love but one noticable change in the last 14 years was my shift from being just her little girl to being her little girl who is now a grown woman and now her best girlfriend. I still miss my mom everyday but that ache in my gut that was constant for my first few years has subsided. It’s still a shock, a decade later, that I didn’t go right back to Colorado after graduation. And now that I’m leaving the city, it’s again shocking that I’m leaving for a place that is not Colorado especially because of the bond with my mother. Colorado will always be home for many reasons but mostly because home is where your mom is.
To my mom, Ma! Thank you for letting me move across the country at such a young age. Thank you for raising me to be a strong independent hard working woman. You have always led by example and now as an adult I recognize and appreciate how hard you worked specifically so that I could have a good life. Thank you for encouraging me to push through my homesickness, despite your own wishes to have me back home. It would have been a hell of a lot cheaper for you and dad had I came home!. You encouraged me to rise to my challenges and just like you always do, helped me find the positive parts of any situation. Sometimes I open my mouth and the words that come out are yours. I think, “jeez I have become my mother” and that is a pretty awesome thing. You are the best mom a girl could ever hope for and the best friend a woman could hope for. Denver, New York or wherever I am I know I can always come home to my mom. Love ya! Morewhateveryourface!
I LOVED this post. Probably because you and your mom sound like me and my daughter. When she left home years ago, the shift from Mom to BFF was immediate and enduring, although she still needs advice from time-to-time and that one-on-one mama love. I treasure our adventures SO much. Thanks for sharing!
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