7:01pm NJ Transit Train to Newark Airport
Whoa. 24 hours in one of the best cities in the world did not disappoint! Upon landing in Newark last night, I jumped on the train right into Manhattan to meet my dear friend from high school Stef Walmsley at NY Penn Station. With the flight leaving Chicago about an hour delayed, I got to Penn station at 10:45pm. The station and the streets are as busy as ever with people everywhere. My eyes were big and full of excitement. I do not think I will ever get used to NYC! It was nice to be back despite the chaos, which was strangely comforting. Following Stef’s text to meet her at the corner of 7th and 32nd, I rush out the exit like the New Yorkers around me and I literally bump into an unexpected face from the past. Adham Zaki is standing right in front on me looking just as shocked as me! Only in NY would something this surreal happen. It has been maybe 8 years? And yet, he looks like he has not aged a day since our high schools days in Manila and conversation flows like no time has passed. Amazing. I am so lucky to have gone to an International School where I know someone in practically every major city in the world. I will never be alone after all!
Stef shows up and we have a laugh about the random encounter. We cab up to her lovely studio apartment in the upper east side, freshen up and head out. We are meeting some of her friends in a Filipino resto called Café 81 in the East Village. As I walk in, I feel like I have walked into a typical Quezon City bar. Pinoys everywhere! We order Kalamnsi vodkas, munch on lumpia Shanghai, and I see about 5 or 6 unexpected friends + acquaintances from Manila that live and work in the city. The night out made me realize that if ever I end up living in NY, I will never be lonely.
BUT…. Today was a magical and memorable day. Not only was it my bestie, Helen Gomez Andrews’ birthday, but I also got to meet her beautiful baby girl Mona Oisin Andrews for the first time. See the beautiful ladies in the photos below. I have completely fallen in love with this little thing! Helen makes motherhood look so easy – and looking completely fabulous despite only having given birth last week. Mona, or Oisen (pronounced Oh-sheen, as her parents call her) is so well behaved. She slept the whole time during our 2 hour dim sum lunch in her carrier on Helen’s belly. I’m so impressed and so proud of my Helen! To see one of my best friends entering this chapter in her life makes me so happy – but sad I cannot be there 24/7 to live it with her. The same goes for Dina and Vava in Manila. I cannot even think about the pain of missing my best friends the way I do because I am so afraid of the real emotional pain I know I will feel. There is nothing I want more than to also meet Dina’s Bella… my inaanak (or god-daughter for the English speakers). Sigh… will there ever be a time I can say there is no one I miss at this moment because everyone I need is right here? That is my biggest wish.
One more shout out to Miss Stefanie. Thank you for taking me in last night! And more importantly, thank you for introducing me to the Shel Silverstein story of “The Missing Piece finds the Big O”. I am not sure what I am looking for in Europe, but once I find it I will know. I will savor that chorizo sandwich at Burough Market in London just for you.
I leave you with the story of The Missing Piece. I hope this touches you the same way it did me. Au Revoir NYC, see you in a New York minute!