Writing Prompt #70: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 32)

Week #32: A City You’ve Visited.

I will always feel like a part of me belongs in New York City. I don’t ever want to live there now, although I used to dream about it for years. Yes, I was that kid who wanted to leave Virginia far behind and either start by going to college there, or become a famous writer and live in an apartment and enjoy the city.

Being born at Mount Sinai Hospital, it’s directly across the street from the west side of Central Park, one of the most amazing parks in our country. I could spend hours upon hours looking at Google Images of people’s photos. When I take Al to visit the city for the very first time next summer, I want to spend as much time in the park as possible, getting as many photos as I can. I have fond memories of practicing softball with my dad when we were there to visit the hospital. I need to find those photos and share them. I’m definitely an awkward 13-year-old there, but we had so much fun.

My parents took me back to the hospital every summer until I was 16 years old. The story that’s been told is the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses say, “Our greatest joy is seeing these children grow.” The last time we were there as a family, in 2004, there were two gigantic bulletin boards on one wall of the unit, completely covered in pictures of kids who “graduated” from the unit. Most are school photos, but some are family photos. Every single one is precious. My parents did that for a few years, and we found an old photo of me on the bulletin board when we were there. It was staggering to see how many photos were there. My parents have a photo of that visit – Me, Dr. Ian Holzman, and my mom – on their refrigerator.

But, the nurses also remember the babies who didn’t survive.

When I was 18, and a senior in high school, the Oscar Smith Chamber Orchestra was invited to play at Carnegie Hall. It was such an amazing experience to close out my high school years. It rained the entire weekend, but everyone had a blast. Many of my classmates had never seen the city, and one long weekend wasn’t enough to take it all in. We played our hardest. I almost cried as we walked out on stage, seeing the historic venue from that perspective absolutely took my breath away. Many of our families were there to support us. My mom invited the head nurse from the Mount Sinai NICU, Doris Haddad, to come to the performance. She cried. She gave me flowers. It was awesome! I graduated from high school about two months after we performed.

I’ve been fortunate to have seen a lot of New York City throughout my life – Broadway shows, Times Square, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the World Trade Center before and after 9/11, the Statue of Liberty, being on the plaza at The Today Show, Radio City Music Hall, FAO Schwarz, Macy’s, the New York Public Library, the Ghostbusters Firehouse, Tribeca, Soho, the subway, The New York Times building, different museums, Katz’s Deli, Ellis Island, Governors Island … I could go on.

But, now, as an adult, I’m realizing that I’ve only seen a very small fraction of what the five boroughs have to offer. When we visit next summer, I want to see Madison Square Garden, Brooklyn, The Bell House (home of NPR’s Ask Me Another), Coney Island, Staten Island, The Bronx, and Queens. I want to experience a variety of restaurants. I’m sure there’s many museums that are new and different, too. Plus, I’ve never been to an American Girl Store. The New York store is one of their flagship stores, so, why not?


Have you ever been to New York? What did you like about?

If you haven’t been to New York yet, what do you want to see or experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

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