I was just cleaning and my thoughts drifted to 16 years ago when I was fresh out of college and excitedly headed to new city, a new career, and a new home in Washington D.C. I had grown up on Long Island but I was looking for change, something new. I loved my new life and never expected to return to where I grew up. I went to graduate school, found a wonderful husband, and had 2 daughters all while at that great job I still have today. I made a life for myself and I was happy.
Last year, I turned 40 and decided to do something big - run a marathon in Paris. In April, I made my second trip there and it was the experience of a lifetime. My brother bought me a small Eiffel Tower on his visit there years ago, but it now holds a special significance to me.
Two weeks before flying to Paris, I learned that I had gained entry to my dream race - the NYC Marathon. There was a 12% chance and I got very lucky. I could not believe it. I remember all the years living in New York when I would watch people out there in the freezing cold and wonder what the heck they were thinking and the years that I would go to visit my parents and have to race out of New York across the Verrazano bridge before they closed it early in the morning for the start of the race. Never in my life did I think I would become a runner and be one of those people on the bridge, but there I was last November. It was surreal.
The race conditions were not perfect that day but I was determined to enjoy every second and I crossed the finish line filled with absolute joy. Such an amazing experience.
Since then, I've been homesick and I wish I could go back. I think of the typical things New Yorkers miss like the bagels, pizza and buttered rolls that are so easy to find. I miss the excitement of the city and it's gritty imperfection. I also miss the people - their accents and attitudes. I miss how I could wake up and be at the beach in fifteen minutes reading a book. I miss the familiarity of it all.
I brought my daughters for the first time last month and it was then that I got the Empire State Building to go with my Eiffel Tower. I have likely retired from marathons, but I have continued to run and in two weeks I will return to New York for the NYC Half-marathon. I cannot wait! I also really hope to make more visits this year.
Paris was wonderful, but New York ... it will always be home.