In the three weeks leading up to the first day of school, my daughter trekked from Southern California to the Manhattan borough of New York.
She rode the subways and rides, hit a zoo and a Broadway show, two theme parks and spent some invaluable time with family on both sides.
Addy may have been exhausted by the time it was over, but I would have never known it.
Summer trips weren’t really a thing for us when I was growing up. As one of four kids in a two-parent family, traveling for six surely wasn’t in our budget.
However, on the rare occasion we did hit the road, the memories lasted a lifetime. When I was 6, we all piled onto an Amtrak at Union Station — complete with my newborn baby brother — and took it all the way to the west coast to see our grandparents. I still have flashes of playing cards on the train with strangers and trying to sleep in those crazy-tiny bedrooms on the train.
Years later, I would take a plane with my dad back out to California and had the chance to spend a day with my cousin Sandy at an amusement park called Great America. For a 10-year old, that was the thrill of my then-short lifetime.
It’s sometimes difficult as adults to put ourselves in the shoes of children having those first-time experiences. This is especially true when we are out of town, in new environments and trying to monitor of all those other things we put pressure on ourselves to keep track of in this digital age.
When Addy returned from California with her mom in late July, the countdown was already on for our trip to New York. There, we hoped, she would experience the thrill of a town of more than 8 million while also meeting new relatives from overseas for the first time, catching up with cousins and uncles and, maybe, even jumping on the subway for a ride.
After a flight to LaGuardia, bank snafu that affected my ability to grab an Uber and then an interesting ride into Queens, we were set for our first night in the largest city in the United States. We hit a taco joint that night and then stayed the night at a hotel so close to the airport we could see the passengers in the windows on their descent to the runway. It was weird for me; thrilling for Addy.
We spent part of the next week in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan with my brothers, parents, cousins, my niece and my mom’s half-brother, Rainer, who flew in from Germany with his wife Elke. It was the first time my mother had met her brother in person.
Addy asked a lot of questions about who they were and how we were related to them. Over the years she will learn a lot more about the amazing story that brought my own mother through Ellis Island into the United States.
The image of Addy on the ferry with the Statue of Liberty in the background will forever be etched in my mind. As will her smile on the subway. Her joy as we ascended the long staircase to our seats at The Lion King. Her energy at the Bronx Zoo. And her looks of amazement and wonder as we walked to the Chelsea Market one evening for dinner and a night to ourselves.
She doesn’t know the plane ride makes me a little anxious. She has no idea I am watching not only her every move, but the move of those around her in this big city. But I am also observing her wonder, her wide eyes and her inquisitive nature when it comes to every building, each corner or block we passed and cultures and customs and people new to her.
Addy acclimated to New York quicker than I would have ever expected. And, in turn, New York welcomed this 8-year-old and her 40-something father in ways I will never forget.
Editor's Note: John Beaudoin is a Lee's Summit resident and award winning writer and former newspaper publisher in the Lee's Summit community. Views and opinions expressed in his columns do not necessarily reflect those of Link 2 Lee's Summit, it's employees or any other guest contributors.