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I was sitting outside tonight, lazily tossing the ball to Kianna, who follows that thing like… god, what is more drawn to something than a labrador retriever to a ball? A moth to a flame, sure, but that’s a pretty boring metaphor – what else works? Like.. Micah to Minecraft? Like Moxie to trouble? Like Mack to me? Maybe all of those work and maybe it’s time to wrap up our trip to New York in posts, since we have some things we need to talk about soon. Like ducks.

[Before you read the rest of the post did you click on the “reading mode”? – it’s in the right hand corner of this page, if you are on a computer. See it? You might love it]

New York:

Meriah Nichols New York-5Moxie came to see me as I sat on Helena’s kitchen floor in the dark of a New York morning, busy working out theme stuff for A Day in the Life with Down syndrome. She came on up, reached for my hand and was gently tugging me – my heart swelled, thinking she was in for some lovey-dovey mother/daughter time, but she softly smiled and said, “TV”

The Korean Spa

Helena & Bryan took us to the most amazing Korean spa that I have ever been to outside of Asia. It Blew My Mind. They also took us to eat these Shanghai Soup Dumplings in Flushing – have you eaten them? Heaven.

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I wish I could have taken more photos of the Spa because the entire concept was amazing.

A chunk of Asia just splat-smacked in Queens, New York. I would never have thought that something like that could work, but good thing they never asked me because it DID! It was jam packed with every race – mostly Latino and African American in the upstairs swimming pool and jacuzzi area, more Asians in the downstairs gender-segregated naked area. I don’t understand why there isn’t something of this magnitude in the Bay Area yet? I mean, WHY? And if I had a cool chunk of change, that’s exactly what I’d invest in because it would FLY.

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after hours of soaking…

Circle Line

This is so uber touristy that it’s a total blast. Sooooo grateful that Helena & Bryan got this together

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Meriah Nichols New York-27 Meriah Nichols New York-31 Meriah Nichols New York-30 Meriah Nichols New York-29 Meriah Nichols New York-28 Meriah Nichols New York-15 Meriah Nichols New York-23 Meriah Nichols New York-22 Meriah Nichols New York-24 Meriah Nichols New York-25 Meriah Nichols New York-9 Meriah Nichols New York-17 Meriah Nichols New York-16 Meriah Nichols New York-19 Meriah Nichols New York-21 Meriah Nichols New York-18 Meriah Nichols New York-5 Meriah Nichols New York-14 Meriah Nichols New York-13 Meriah Nichols New York-10 Meriah Nichols New York-4 Meriah Nichols New York-26 Meriah Nichols New York-8 Meriah Nichols New York-7 Meriah Nichols New York-6 Meriah Nichols New York-34But that’s not all!

I know, it’s kind of amazing how much we were able to pack in, isn’t it? It’s because of Helena and her knack for organizing and planning and creating brilliant adventures!

One that I’ll be treasuring for the rest of my life – Hedwig and the Angry Inch –

20150818-IMG_2229 20150818-IMG_2234 20150818-IMG_2239 20150818-IMG_2235 I was totally sobbing like a small child by the end. Taye Diggs did a good job.

20150818-IMG_2253And still more!

Here’s the last smorgasbord of photos – from fabulous food (street! international! walk-up McDonalds?!!) to fabulous friends – Beth, one of my closest friends from high school in Hilo, Hawaii, and Morgan (newly married!), who worked with me in Berkeley. Lost teeth on the subway, smiles, big laughs, pouts, long stroller naps, B&H Photo (!!!), glances through doorways, love alight.
20150819-IMG_2305 Meriah Nichols New York-1 Meriah Nichols New York-3-2 Meriah Nichols New York-2-2 Meriah Nichols New York-1-4 Meriah Nichols New York-2 Meriah Nichols New York-1-2 Meriah Nichols New York-32 Meriah Nichols New York-33 Meriah Nichols New York-2

Beth! One of my closest friends from HIGH SCHOOL!!!
Beth! One of my closest friends from HIGH SCHOOL!!!
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Morgan!!! And his husband!!

Meriah Nichols New York-6 Meriah Nichols New York-4 Meriah Nichols New York-3 Meriah Nichols New York-7 Meriah Nichols New York-35 Meriah Nichols New York-36 Meriah Nichols New York-3 20150819-IMG_2262We had so much fun that to be honest, I felt it all kind of bubble and brim over and I wanted peace on earth, a resounding kumbaya! and for everyone – especially Mikey (whom we missed terribly) – to have as good a time as we did.

There are a whole lot of surprises about being a parent that I’ve run into, but one of the biggest is the amount of times I find myself saying, “no” in a given day. It’s a real drag and it makes me feel like the biggest Wet Blanket, ever. Big ole’ bucket o’ “NO”, and that’s me.

“Mommy, can we buy this cereal?”

– “that box of sugar? NO”

“Mamaaaaaaaaa – ?”

“NO”

“Meriah, let’s watch a movie!”

– “it’s 9 o’clock isn’t it? Bedtime… NO”

Sometimes I find myself remembering what a FUN PERSON I used to be, you know, before I become this No-Sayer-Ball-Of-No-No-NO. (I even feel like there isn’t anything quite so pathetic as a mom-person passionately declaring that they used to be A FUN PERSON)

Any-waaaaaay, so, Helena felt the same way (what Mom doesn’t???), so we thought we’d give our kids the shock of their lives and just say “yes” to everything. One colossal Day of Yes, at Coney Island, no less. We’d say yes to everything they asked and just have a blast.

And we did.

And it was. One of the best days I can remember having, just really, really FABULOUS.

Here are the photos:

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I have to tell you this: when we were on the flight to New York, Moxie was flipping through the in-flight airline magazine in the seat pocket ahead of her and she came upon this picture of a merry-go-round carousel. She just stopped and started pointing to it and said, “Mama! ME!” over and over, making it abundantly clear that she wanted to ride that thing.

We changed flighted in Dallas, and on the next flight, she reached for the magazine and deftly flipped it right open to the very spot that hosted that carousel image. This time however, she actually tore the picture out of the magazine.

Yeah.

Little Miss knows what she wants, uh-huh.

So, we *had* to go on this. And I’m not sure there is anything better than watching her be thrilled, just beside herself in a moment that she’s wanted.

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Mack had a lot of firsts. First time on a kinda-scary ride:

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Meriah Nichols Coney Island-7Meriah Nichols Coney Island-12First on a ride with just his big sister for protection:

Meriah Nichols Coney Island-18 Meriah Nichols Coney Island-17 Meriah Nichols Coney Island-16 Meriah Nichols Coney Island-13 Meriah Nichols Coney Island-15Meriah Nichols Coney Island-4Meriah Nichols Coney Island-10Meriah Nichols Coney Island-9Meriah Nichols Coney Island-8Meriah Nichols Coney Island-2Meriah Nichols Coney Island-3Meriah Nichols Coney Island-1

I’ve never lived in New York City and I don’t plan on ever living there. Yet it ranks waaaaay up there as my favorite city.

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It’s something to do with the pulsing energy. The racial diversity always but always knocks me over in a swooning delight. I can’t get enough of a place in which conservative Jewish kids play alongside African American kids and kids who are actually speaking Chinese, Spanish, other languages. It’s a microcosm of the world, it’s the all of us in a city-shell.

20150817-_DSC6285 20150817-_DSC6276 20150817-_DSC6273 20150817-_DSC6269 20150817-_DSC6260 20150817-_DSC6255 20150817-_DSC6253 20150817-_DSC6242 20150817-_DSC6237I can’t put my finger on it, but I feel like the survival piece is just as strong in NYC as it is on the Lost Coast. There are a million differences, sure, but there are a million similarities too. There is a rawness in both.

In any case, we walked all over the place. An average of 7 miles a day! (thank you, Pacer app). In the photos above, Helena took us walking on the Washington Bridge – so lovely – and below, Belen took us to this wonderful park where kids run around in their swimsuits through spray water.

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20150817-_DSC6182 20150817-_DSC6194 20150817-_DSC6185 20150817-_DSC6204 20150817-_DSC6210 20150817-_DSC6177Park schedules were fun to read. Lots going on.

20150817-_DSC6213There was only one day in which Helena had to be at work and I had the kids, solo. It wasn’t really “solo” though, because Helena’s daughter Belen was there and she knows things inside out. 9 years old, and she was like a little mommy with the kids.

They adored her.

20150818-_DSC6294 20150818-_DSC6296 20150818-_DSC6310 20150818-_DSC6313 20150818-_DSC6323 20150818-_DSC6328 20150818-_DSC6348 20150818-_DSC6343 20150818-_DSC6358 20150818-_DSC6362 20150818-_DSC6369 20150818-_DSC6355The park in the photos above is this stretch along by the Brooklyn Bridge – it’s this long series of parks that are each, in and of themselves, worthy of a trip to see. Together, going from one to another (- the spray/water park to the climbing park to the sand park to the art parks to the forest/butterfly park, and so forth), it’s just an awesome mind-glow.

Then we went to the Highline park. I’ve been wanting to visit that since I read the National Geographic piece on it years ago when it first opened.

20150819-_DSC6394 20150819-_DSC6399 20150819-_DSC6405It was pretty crowded, and very manicured. But the vibe was still friendly – and largely art-centered – and there were some stunningly delicious popsicles to be had.

20150819-_DSC6434 20150819-_DSC6411 20150819-_DSC6442 20150819-_DSC6438 20150819-_DSC6448Right behind us as we were taking these photos, a guy was proposing to his lady. She accepted. There were kisses and tears and it was a magical moment.

20150819-_DSC6457 20150819-_DSC6459Thanks, Helena – for the day and for the photos with Micah. I have soooooooooo few of us together.

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On the way home:

I met Helena 20 years ago. Exactly – almost to the day, 20 years ago.

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She and I were just arriving in Tucson, Arizona. Both of us were planning to marry people other than we are currently married to, and we were going to attend grad school at U of A. We met at the Spadefoot Housing Co-op across from Time Market, which Niles and Paul had just started – the basement was still full of frat-boy frat-house filth..

It was just one of those times, you know? I was 22, fresh off the plane from Macau. Helena was 22, fresh from New York City, via Milwaukee. We were young together. We dreamed and talked and drank our lemon-filled diet cokes and talked more.  And we fought – explosively! – because we were 22 and young and that’s what can happen, maybe, sometimes? But the love that we’ve always had for each other really kept us through. She’s my sister from another mister.

I wanted to see her again. This trip was largely about that – being able to reconnect with her and her family and get to know her daughter, Belen.

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We left Meredith and her clan in New Jersey and took the train to NYC, where Helena’s husband Bryan met us at Penn Station. (I think it was Penn Station?!)

This is the thing: everyone always talks about New York City being this rude, awful place but I’ve never gotten that. Every time I’ve been there, people have been fabulous. This time was no exception. In the 20 minutes at the station in which we were trying to find Bryan, no less than FOUR PEOPLE offered to help me. No kidding. Four.

Another guy helped Bryan carry the stroller down the stairs, and then yet MORE people helped me on the train after Bryan left to go back to work. They heard me tell him that I was nervous because I couldn’t hear the announcements on the train, and when our stop was coming up, they touched my arm and told me. And helped me off. And smiled.

New York City, man…

_DSC6119Helena met her husband Bryan at the Co-Op in Tucson (after she broke up with the other guy!) and they’ve been together ever since.

_DSC6058 _DSC6059 _DSC6080 _DSC6084 _DSC6086 _DSC6088 _DSC6098_DSC6114Belen is their daughter – she is 9, and beautiful, precocious and bright. And loving. I think the kids forgot I was their mother.

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Moxie cut her hair while I was in the kitchen talking with Helena.

_DSC6026 _DSC6035 _DSC6052No guilty face there!

Anyway, here are some more photos from the first couple of days in NYC –

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New York made so much sense to me.

I mean, what better place can you imagine to take a vacation to, when you live off the grid in a yurt, have an outhouse, an outdoor shower, your nearest neighbors are in the vicinity of the next mountain away… and in which you actually eat bear and wild boar?

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Right, exactly.

And no small piece of that was my friend Helena living there, and really wanting to spend time with her, her husband and get to know her daughter. So New York it was.

_DSC5686 _DSC5693 _DSC5695 _DSC5714Choicest vacation spot, ever.

We drove on down to the Bay Area to take off, and spent time with my good friend, Stefanie and her family.

Her son has been friends with Micah since they were babies.

_DSC5727_DSC5736 _DSC5739 _DSC5748Or at least we think they were friends. Stefanie and I would sort of prop them up and they’d look at one another in that interested way that babies have, but that’s really as much as we know (for a fact). But I like saying they have been friends since they were babies, so is it okay if we stick to that?

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Stefanie and I had a total blast at the Mac store.
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Moxie did, too.

I can never get enough of that place. In my next life, I want to be a makeup artist!

We also went swimming and got to see Sarah, another good friend, and my Grandpa Jack and my mom. And we got ready-set prepared for NYC

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Which would be me, the double stroller, the kids and a couple of hella long flights

 

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