10: Welcome to New York

10: Welcome to New York

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Empowered Woman

Welcome to New York

Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass.

It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.

~Vivian Greene

My husband had already been working at his new job in New York for a few weeks. Back home in Texas, the kids and I waited for the relocation company to start the process so we could make our big move to follow him. But, as it turns out, we were waiting for a hurricane at the same time: Hurricane Harvey. And on Friday, it hit.

Alone in our home, the phone blasted alerts around the clock of potential flash floods and tornadoes. What did I do? First, I turned off the news. My rattled nerves could only handle knowing about our individual, immediate danger, not what was going on all over the Houston area. Then, we waited, for four grueling days.

Once the worst of the storm was over, we breathed a huge sigh of relief. Our home was completely intact. Many were not so lucky.

The rain continued, along with the potential for flooding. All the airports were shut down, with no news about when they’d reopen. I decided we would drive to New York, instead of waiting. Our relocation started, despite the many closed and treacherous roads.

Driving from Houston to New York on my own with our three kids and a dog was not initially well received. My friends and family were extremely concerned about our safety. I did what I knew was best for our family. One of the many reasons I wanted to get to New York soon was because I wanted my kids to have the most seamless transition possible; I wanted them to start school on the first day.

We left on Tuesday and drove north to escape the storm. Our first stop was to see our family friends in Dallas. They opened their doors to us, and their three kids greeted our kids like long-lost cousins. Everyone played, and they fed us comfort food. With soothed nerves and full bellies, we piled back into the car. Now sunny skies beckoned us on the open road, and we drove and drove.

We kept in touch with my mom in Los Angeles, and she willingly became our remote travel agent and navigator. She was a lifesaver. Over the phone, we worked out how far I’d be able to drive for the day, and she’d book us a dog-friendly hotel. We spent the first night in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Safely checked in before dark, we grabbed a quick dinner and then fell fast asleep. We rose early the next morning and started our second day.

Stopping only when absolutely necessary to go to the bathroom or eat, the kids were upbeat and surprisingly well behaved. Normally, we have epic meltdowns at Target or even walking the dog in our neighborhood, so the fact that they never complained or fought was beyond my comprehension. I will be forever grateful for whatever mysterious force pulled them from the depths of their everyday antics and bestowed on them the ability to behave, listen, and help me.

The second night, thanks to my trusty mom, we ended up in Terre Haute, Indiana. It was a beautiful, historic college town, and we were able to walk around with the dog. The kids loved watching the sun set and rise from our fifth-floor hotel room, and they played silly games in the room. They were able to make every new hotel room and every new nook and cranny into a wonderland of imagination and adventure.

By our second night, I expected my adrenaline to wear off and fatigue to set in. But no, I kept going like a machine. I never once felt exhausted or incapable of continuing. I also knew that the more we drove, the sooner we’d arrive safely at our final destination. Determination was my driving force.

On the third day, my mom booked our hotel. It was eight hours away, and I wasn’t sure if I could make it. We stopped in downtown Columbus, Ohio, and picnicked in Capitol Square. We saw the beautiful Ohio Holocaust and Liberators Memorial and met friendly people. Everyone wanted to stop and pet Bonzo, our lovable two-year-old Cocker Spaniel.

Eventually, our scenery changed, and the cool weather blew over the mountains and trees. The roads started to wind, and Hennie, especially, gushed over the views from her window. We stayed our final night in Bedford, Pennsylvania.

We hadn’t seen Steve in weeks, so our last morning we ate breakfast and eagerly headed to New York. Over bridges and through tunnels, after tolls and tolls, we could finally see the Statue of Liberty and the immense New York City skyline. We’d arrived. Gleaming with pride, we pulled into a hotel on Long Island. Steve was able to register the kids for school, so they’d start on the first day. We had done it!

There have been many times when I’ve wondered who I am now that I’m a mom. I’ve often felt like I’d lost sight of my bravery and the fierce independence that once flowed through my pre-mommy veins. But this trip reminded me that I am now, more than ever, a brave and independent woman. Capable of anything. Only this time, my bravery and confidence benefit me and, more importantly, my family.

Today, I desperately needed to do our laundry, so we attempted to drive to the laundry facilities. But I couldn’t find my keys. The rain started coming down. I’m notorious for losing my keys, so my first thought was immense gratitude that this happened today and not when we were on our cross-country road trip.

I called roadside assistance, and we waited in the rain. Just then, an Indian wedding came outside, and everyone was dancing and celebrating. The groom’s procession, complete with a decorated horse, made its way around the parking lot as we watched in amazement. The music blasted, and the DJ led everyone in dance. Afterward, Hennie and Tillie got to sit on the horse. It was the most spectacular event.

As soon as the wedding guests went inside, the car mechanic arrived and jimmied the lock, but we still couldn’t pop open the trunk. I’d locked my keys in the trunk before and had to do this exact same thing, but I couldn’t remember how.

When Steve finished work, he figured out how to pull down the back seats and reached into the trunk to open it. But the keys weren’t in there. Frantically, I searched the hotel room again and eventually found the keys. They were in my sweatshirt pocket, of course. No, I hadn’t checked those pockets before calling for assistance. I’d checked the pockets of the fleece I thought I was wearing, but not the pockets of the sweatshirt I actually was wearing. And thus I ended my week of feeling like Supermom with a little dose of humility!

~Molly England

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