Somewhere Over the Chrysler Building

A trip to New York City last weekend helped me get my groove back. There was something about the fresh, freezing air there, something in the way the purposeful people walked and talked, something about the open-until-6am-bars and bright lights that helped to renew a part of me that tends to go missing in the middle of February in Illinois. I left Chicago with a bad migraine and pounds of work-related stress, and returned feeling well-rested, well-fed and perfectly pleasant. Somewhere between New York’s Midtown neighborhood and Chicago’s Midway  Airport, I found me again!

While there, everything seemed to happen the way things should. Every bad occurrence (surviving 3 freezing cold hours in a failed attempt to see a live taping of Regis and Kelly) seemed to be balanced out by a good one (getting the inside scoop on Gossip Girl filming from the bartender at our hotel). My boyfriend and I met people selling sidewalk paintings that seemed beautiful enough for MoMA. We explored the city’s history, learning that we were just 2 of the 46 million travelers that would visit  The Big Apple in 2011. We subway-ed to Jewish delis and strolled through Times Square. We prowled the streets of Fashion Week.  We gazed at Ground Zero and remembered to be grateful. We did things that regular New Yorkers do every day, probably without a second thought.

Marvelous moments are so easy to find when you are far away from what you recognize.

Having traveled to the city several times, I always like to say that New York is my happy place. But here’s the truth: I didn’t have to go to New York to get happy.  Actually, it could have been a good friend’s house, or a walk downtown, or a trip to the local Godiva shop. Whether it’s over the rainbow or across the state line, travel has proven to be my great teacher. In leaving my comfort zone, I can learn about others and hear their stories. I step away from the life that I know to visit a place outside of me. Part of going away is experiencing the excitement of somewhere new (Manhattan margaritas taste better!), but the best part of going away is becoming aware of something new.

Sometimes, leaving makes you appreciate where you come from. Sometimes, time spent away from family and friends can shine light on their incredible importance in your life. Sometimes, experiencing something other than home can give home its value. And sometimes, life just feels better when you allow yourself to see it from another point of view.