This Thanksgiving I have had quite a bit to be thankful for. Last week held not only some of the most momentous experiences I have had in my life thus far, but will remain among my most cherished memories forever. After nearly a year of planning and endeavors that had fallen through due to numerous conflicts in our lives, my partner and I were at last able to meet in person for the first time, closing the 4,237 mile gap in our long distance relationship. I first met Sol in the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of university, and had never known a person that made me feel more comfortable with myself and accepting of who I was as a person and the direction that I wanted to take my life in. It is a very special thing to find someone that gives you such courage, and I feel extraordinarily lucky that those feelings extended into our first meeting in person. As Sol shares my dreams of travel and fascination with New York City, I was thrilled that we were able to work out our first experiences together – and his first experiences in America – there, none of which would have been possible without the support and generosity of my sister, who moved to the city with her family several years ago. I had visited her in New York for a week and a half during the summer, but the autumn offered an entirely new perspective of the Five Boroughs.
We decided that the best place to begin in the city was with a tour of the Statue of Liberty, one of the most recognizable landmarks and symbols of the United States. As sightseeing can become quite expensive in New York, we did a bit of research and discovered the City Pass, a program that offers you admission to three attractions of your choosing from a list, at a fraction of the individual cost. It was certainly a spectacular deal, and I am glad that we did it. From Queens, we took the subway all the way to the tip of Manhattan and did a bit of walking around Whitehall Street and Bowling Green, where I saw a black squirrel for the first time and got a bit too excited.
We presented our City Pass at Castle Clinton and received three tickets, one for myself, Sol and my brother, Dakota, and followed the signs into the airport-style security. Following the thorough but necessary procedures, we waited until it was our turn to board the ferry to Liberty Island. The excitement in the room was electric as we had a clear view of Lady Liberty in the distance from the windows.
As we stepped onto the rocking ferry, I began to wonder if choosing Liberty that day was such a good idea after all. The cold and windy weather was a far departure from the sunshine and heat that I experienced the last time I had laid eyes on the Statue, but as we found a place to stand on the bustling deck, a surge of excitement and a feeling of adventure convinced me to believe otherwise.
The brief ferry ride offered a multitude of photo opportunities as the Manhattan skyline began to shrink ever so slightly into the distance, and so many iconic buildings and landmarks were visible in nearly every direction.
As we drew nearer to Liberty Island, we were offered breathtaking views of the Statue from below. It was incredible to imagine what a sight it must have been to behold for immigrants arriving from the nearby Ellis Island in the past.
Our tickets only got us as far as the island itself, so we were unfortunately unable to go inside the statue upon docking, but the views from every direction were spectacular in themselves; both of Lady Liberty and the skylines in the distance. I even had the pleasure of taking close-up photos of the not at all shy seagulls, which, as a Midwesterner, I am fascinated with (and Sol deplores).
From the dramatic weather and magnificent views, I feel that there could not have been a better way to make our first memories together in New York. Whenever I need to lift my spirits, I can always remember the chilly air, the sea, and the warmth and joy of being in the company of people that I am incredibly thankful for.