I love senior year. Despite my extraordinary summer, I’ve missed everything about SB– my close-knit group of friends, the familiarity of the faces in the hallway, announcements, the community, my favorite teachers. My last first day felt sentimental– the last first day of hugging people I’ve known for 13 years after a summer away and driving down Dorset Street under the beating sun and being in this quaint town. It’s as if I’m beginning to notice everything around me even more. I miss the rush of summer, and the sense of uncertainty as to who I would meet or what I would do or where I would go. By the end of the summer, I could hardly believe everything I had experienced. Yet, SB has offered the routine that has been lacking from my life. I think tonight was the first Saturday night I spent at home in the past few months–the first night I wasn’t traveling or hanging out with friends or going to some meeting. I felt compelled to complete the tasks on my to-do list or to read a book, but I ended up just curling in bed and watching bits of Argo while lazily glancing over Psych and Physics notes. It’s difficult to explain how nice it feels to be home, without anywhere to go.
New York City in the summertime is beautiful, as I discovered last weekend on my end-of-the-summer family trip. We drove down for two nights, expecting to tour the city in its entirety (although we’ve been several times before). In the end, we opted for cafe-hopping (the usual Mukherjee endeavor) , Phantom of the Opera, and some new sights: the Intrepid Museum, SoHo, Columbia University, and the 9/11 Memorial.
The Phantom of the Opera left me with tears and goosebumps. I haven’t immersed myself into music for a while, but sitting above the stage, where I could peer into the orchestra pit, made me realize why I love music–the swells of crescendos, the reverberating warmth of the horns, the free-spiritedness of the strings, the power of voices. I used to listen to The Phantom of the Opera soundtrack on a regular basis after discovering it on Pandora, but eventually felt tired, as I always do, of the same music. But that night, it was as if I discovered something new and beautiful. When I closed my eyes, I felt like I was in the perfect place, an effect music always seems to have on me. However, even beyond the music, I fell in love with the characters, each poignant and sincere, and the themes–unrequited love, friendships, expressiveness of music, empathy. Not to mention, the actors/singers were phenomenal. I never expected to love The Phantom of the Opera more than The Lion King (which says a lot). I would watch it a million more times if I could (in fact, I’m listening to the soundtrack as I type).
The Intrepid Museum, which came nowhere close to the sensation of Phantom of the Opera from the previous night, offered an insight into the USS Intrepid, a naval aircraft carrier from WWII, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War, that also survived five kamikaze attacks and one torpedo strike. Aboard the ship were various exhibits, including a British Airways Concorde and the space shuttle Enterprise. Of the two, I found the Concorde to be most fascinating for its incredible, incredible ability (2 hr 52 min. to cross the Atlantic). While the disaster of one of the flights ended in a termination of all of them, I can’t help but marvel over the science behind the Concorde. What a feat.
Later in the day, we wandered over to SoHo, which was a perfect contrast to the overwhelming (and arguably ugly) Times Square, where our hotel was located. In SoHo, we discovered a Spanish Tapas restaurant with a rustic sign and quaint atmosphere. There, I had some of the best food I had ever eaten–my first Spanish experience. From Spanish omelettes to empanadas, I fell in love with the flavors of the cuisine. That night, we decided to look around Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum (after a stop to Coldstone, of course!), which was next to our hotel, and found it to be surprisingly interesting, albeit slightly creepy.
The next morning, our last in the city, was devoted to 5th Avenue, where we sauntered into nearly every store and bought bags, shoes, winter clothes, and everything Vermont doesn’t offer (basically everything). As I always do, I tried to spot some celebrities (Vermont small town problems) to no avail. Before leaving the city completely, we stopped by Columbia University–and I was blown away; it was gorgeous. My parents and I fell in love with the campus. Everything felt perfect, from the location to the buildings to the main courtyard. New students wandered across the campus, carrying fans and suitcases, their trailing parents attempting to keep up. Seeing all of that, my parents turned to me and wistfully said, “Maybe that’ll be us next year.” Thanks for adding to the pressure, parents. Having said that, I have my doubts about living in a place like New York City. While it’s the ideal city for young people, I would always feel overwhelmed, and slightly lost. I will always prefer the charm of New England. (Nonetheless, if I ever had an opportunity to move to New York City, I probably wouldn’t give it up).
I saved the 9/11 Memorial for last because I felt it deserved that respect. The 12th Anniversary of 9/11 is quickly approaching, and I know it’ll be another day of long silences and unwelcome memories. CNN will replay its 9/11/01 broadcast. Everyone will speak of their family members who were affected. And I will remember my first days here in this country, after moving from the very region that caused these attacks. People say that we were too young to remember 9/11, but I will never forget the day. I watched every minute of CNN that day, hardly batting an eyelash at the fall of the second tower; captivated, horrified, and slightly confused. In the following days, I asked questions, and my parents divulged everything they could. I quickly learned what happened, why it happened, what caused it.
When I went to the 9/11 Memorial, my parents and I sat for 30 minutes in front of where the South Tower stood. Somehow, I couldn’t grasp everything around me. I couldn’t imagine the towers rising high into the sky once-upon-a-time, or the chaos that resulted from the crashes. I had seen everything on TV multiple times, including twice this past summer at the 9/11 exhibit at the Newseum in D.C. But the puzzle pieces didn’t fit together in my mind when I stood in front of the tower. One of the upcoming aspects of the Memorial is a museum that will include the name, backstory, and picture of every victim. For the time being, there are touchscreen monitors outside of the under-construction museum with the same information. We searched for people from places we knew–first Kolkata, then Vermont. By the third name, it was too much to handle. These people had successful lives, families, smiles on their faces–all of which were taken away the morning of what began as a gorgeous day. It’s heartbreaking.
I know we weren’t the only ones to feel the impact of the memorial. While walking towards the exit, a girl I passed broke into tears; nearby, a couple held onto each other, gazing out at the North Tower; kids who were born after 2001 stood solemnly by their parents. Like the day of the actual events, everyone seemed to come together. It’s unfortunate how that only occurs in the face of a tragedy.
After coming back from the city, this week has been fast-paced, from 8am to 8pm meetings to first-of-the-year tests to falling back into a routine. This morning, I had my senior photo shoot with Beltrami Studios, which was a fun break from work (they have some gorgeous sets at their studio). Other than this, I’ve been attempting to balance everything happening, while enjoying every minute of it. I never ended up blogging about Amsterdam, but in short, it was a wonderful, frustrating, and valuable trip–all three because of dear Pablo. When we weren’t fighting about what movie to watch or what sassy comment he made to me, we acted like best friends. And the best news of all–Pablo is expecting a baby sibling in February, so I’m sure TR will be hearing a lot about that (I can’t even contain my excitement!). Just as I had anticipated with my summer at the beginning, I know this coming year will be incredible. Hopefully I can actually maintain TR.
Happy September, happy weekend, and happy autumn!
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