Sunrise in New York.
One of the things I was looking forward to the most was being able to communicate and understand complicated ideas. That paid dividends almost immediately upon entering the country. First, I got pulled into a special room to chat about my trip. I suspect it had to do with the Syria stamp in my passport. They let me free soon enough. Then, I had to chat with the bag checkers. For some reason, when I changed my flight date, they broke it into two different flights. When I went to recheck my bags in New York, they tried to charge me for having a bike again. I was able to talk to them and explain that I had already paid. Problem solved. Being able to work out things like that had me excited to be back.
When I left the airport for my 10 hour layover, I grabbed my favorite subway into Manhattan. I didn't really have a plan of where to go. I just wanted to stroll around a city I love. A few years back, I joined my friend Liz at the Christmas tree lighting after Thanksgiving. I was in town on the day before Thanksgiving when they were still setting it up. I was curious what setting the tree up looked like. I headed into Rockefeller Center to take a look. It was almost complete, but still had the scaffolding around it. They were driving a Zamboni around the ice to get it ready for skaters.
Rockefeller Center ice rink and Christmas tree.
As I left, I saw a huge crowd. They were watching Kings of Leon practice at 6am for their 9am spot on the Today Show. I had heard Betty talk about the huge crowds outside her work around 9am for these shows while we were traveling, but I had never seen them. I certainly didn't think people would be there at 6am to see a rehearsal. It was crazy.
Kings of Leon 6am rehearsal.
Shortly after, I reached a friend in Brooklyn. We set up a time to grab breakfast. To pass the time before I met them, I went to the ridiculous Apple store on Fifth Avenue. I can't believe it was open before 8am. I am looking at getting a laptop to travel with and a MacBook Air is on the potentials list. I left without a thing and headed over to Central Park. Surprisingly, there were still some colored leaves on the trees. I was really excited because I was worried that I had missed my favorite season, fall, for the second straight year.
Late fall in Central Park.
My friend in Brooklyn and a sunny day gave me a chance to throw the Frisbee for the first time in almost six months. It felt great, even if my shoulder didn't appreciate it. I can't throw a backhand more than 10 feet, but my flick was passable. I miss chasing that piece of plastic. I miss the teammates that go along with it.
It was a short day, but it was filled with so many tastes of home, so many tastes of America. I loved it. It was refreshing and a great first step back on home soil.