When my mother approached me about a quick New York City road trip with her and my sister for Martin Luther King Jr. Day , I first thought about every reason I shouldn’t go. My mother, my sister and I in a car for four hours and then a hotel room for 24 hours sounds like a marathon of WWE Smackdown. Despite every negative reason I could think of, I could hear the optimism in my mother's voice. “I just want a vacation with my girls,” she enthusiastically said. I could swallow my reservations for a quick overnight travel. And, I do love an excuse to travel.
Every time I’ve traveled to the Big Apple, I visited Manhattan. The hustle and bustle of the city’s streets and the tourists packed like sardines into overpriced stores have always sent me rushing back home to Baltimore. The lights of Times Square were ostentatious and reminded me of the cheapness of an “Open All-Night” sign hanging in the window of a crappy diner. The city has always left a bad taste in my mouth, like maybe it was overripe and brown. It’s never been my taste, until Brooklyn.
After surviving a 196 mile-long road trip to Brooklyn with my mother and sister, we arrived at our hotel, Fairfield Inn & Suites By Marriott, which had a modern and hip vibe. It appealed to my aesthetic. In the lobby bathroom, there were sculpted men hung in a way it appeared that they were climbing the wall. Some people may dismiss that feature, but for me, I live for those type of details.
We had a few hours before checking-in, so we decided to walk to Flatbush Avenue to grab a quick bite and do some light shopping. I loved walking through the streets of Brooklyn. There are literally people from all walks of life strolling the streets. In Manhattan, you have too many sensory points that distract you from this special New York characteristic. So, this was my first time to really people-watch. It was beautiful because I view people like art pieces in a museum. I study the colors, the wrinkles in their faces, whether they’re smiling or frowning, and how they sift through the crowd around them. Although, everyone seemed to be so different from the next person just a shoulder’s distance-apart from them, it all came together and I felt like I fit right in. Even the way I dressed fit the New York scene. I could walk down 5th Avenue in a pink winter coat, black sweatshirt, baseball cap and over-the-knee boots; and no one even looked twice in my direction.
Brooklyn has lights, stores, and even, tourists. I was there. Something about the BK, though, was different than Manhattan.
Later that evening, we met with my Aunt Yvonne and Uncle Bill who reside in Bedford. They took us to Williamsburg for dinner at Thai restaurant, Qi. We parked next to a colorful wall mural of Brooklyn-native and artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat and artist, Andy Warhol. Both legendary American artists spent their lives in New York and contributed greatly to our culture. At Qi, I enjoyed a three-course dinner: Mango Soft-shell crab for an appetizer, Steamed Ginger Chilean Sea Bass in a Cast Iron Pot for dinner, and Matcha Cheesecake for dessert. It was delicious.
After dinner, my cousin ,who lives in Harlem, met my sister and I for drinks. We walked 15 minutes to this Afro-Caribbean club, Bembe.There wasn’t a neon sign or a huge marquee screaming for us to come in or even letting us know it was there. It was a corner brick building with a huge wooden door that my cousin pushed open to enter. We parted our way through thick, heavy red velvet curtains into a room shrouded in crimson light. The DJ was playing Reggaeton, Salsa, and other sounds of the Caribbean. People were twisting and turning on the dance floor. A small Dominican man was beating on bongos to the beat of whatever track the DJ was playing. If New York hadn’t impressed me yet, it had me now.
We sat at the bar and I ordered a mojito. The tequila bit the back of my throat, but the hum of the music soothed it. After a few more sips, my hips were swaying back and forth on the bar stool. By the bottom of the glass, I ditched the bar stool and moved to the dance floor. Next, I was dancing Salsa with a Haitian man. I had no idea how to, but I knew if I was ever going to learn, it was going to be in this moment, on this dance floor, in Williamsburg. When he dipped me, I leaned back and let out a belly-roaring laugh. It was liberating.
When he brought me back up, I exhaled. I realized every single reservation I had before the trip hadn’t bubbled up to the surface in the last 24 hours. At that moment, I could very well be back in Baltimore, not spending money and probably just getting to bed after a long day at work. My reservations could’ve kept me away from this moment--these moments. After a couple hours of dancing, I walked outside to get air. To the right of me, all lit-up like a Christmas Tree, was the Williamsburg bridge. For a split-second, it appeared as a lighthouse shining in the night guiding the ships into the harbor home.
God is always sending us messages and signs. Either we ignore and pass them off as mind tricks, or we see them for what they are: gifts from God. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I am in a transformative period of my life. While looking up at the Williamsburg bridge, I thought to myself, “I could do this; I could live here.” That though wasn’t only about relocating to New York. It was about the fact that the life I envisioned for myself is manifesting--right now. It’s going to require a lot of sacrifices and shedding of my reservations. If I want the life God has for me, I have to let go. I have to lean my head back, let out a big laugh, exhale and then, let go. So, cheers to Salsa Dancing in BK for teaching me that.
Do you remember a time that reservations kept you from an a great time? Did you let them hold you back or push pass them? Share with me below.
Sidenote: I am reading everyone's comments and I love them. I hope to sit down and reply soon!