Cheap-ish Dates in New York City for the Wheelchair Traveler

 

But Maybe She Wheel NYC

There’s nothing like sightseeing in the Big Apple. The tourist crowds, the smell of roasting nuts from the vendors on the street, and the never-ending stream of taxis and traffic make New York City a truly amazing experience. But when the starry eyed traveler tries to see all the sights, the high cost of living in New York can quickly drain the budget. Here’s a quick way to have your New York experience, but pay the lowest possible cost.

Note for the wheeling travelers; New York City, while a tourist destination, is VERY inaccessible. There are no elevators in the subways above 51st St, so the only chances of taking the subway will be in Lower Manhattan. All the buses are accessible and both the driver and riders are accommodating. However, as the bus stops every other street, this is the slowest way to travel. Here are some of the other options available to the rolling traveler-

The easiest way to navigate the city in a chair is by an accessible taxi, which can be found here. They even have their own app to have a taxi arrive in just minutes!

6 1/2 Ave and Lunch Paley Park

On the many secrets of Manhattan is a pedestrian walkway below Central Park from Le Parker Méridien at 118 West 57th street to the AXA Building at 787 Seventh Avenue, between 51st and 52nd streets. As a way to escape the bustling traffic, a person can walk through the streets without needing to wait for the lights to change (not that many “real” New Yorkers will wait, anyway). An perk to this secret walkway, as well, is the fully accessible sidewalks free of curbs or cobblestones. At the end of the stroll up the walkway and after turning down one block is the perfect spot for you and your hunny to have lunch; the secret garden waterfall along an entire wall called Paley Park. Business professionals in suits and students in sweats alike seek lunchtime refuge in this quiet corner, the sounds of the waterfall cascades reducing the NYC traffic to a dull buzz. So slow down, take a stroll up the secret avenue and then relax at the waterfall while sharing a croissant and coffee with your love.

But Maybe She Wheel NYC
Paley Park, NYC

 

Cocktails at the Times Square Lookout

When we first started dating, my now-husband and I took our young and dumb selves to Times Square to see the ball drop for New Years. Barely 18 and 20, we were awestruck by the crowds and enjoyed the adventure of being frisked, jostled, and corralled into the pens that control the New Years crowd at Times Square. We met a great group of students from Kentucky, Dusty played in a hacky sack competition, and together we danced to keep from freezing as we waited the 18 hours until New Years Eve. No bathrooms being available, we sparingly shared a single Diet Coke and went in with the Kentucky group to order pizza that was delivered across the pens. Finally, when midnight struck, we danced to Auld Lang Syne as confetti rained down. It was magical, incredible and an experience I would never, ever do again.

 

Thankfully, I learned of another way to see Times Square without having to endure the crowds and craziness. The Renaissance Hotel, on 48th and 7th, has a quietly kept secret of the R Lounge, a cocktail bar with giant windows overlooking Times Square. The lounge faces the New Years Eve ball (which is actually tiny and anticlimactic) and the view encompasses each corner of the triangle Square. You have to order to be seated (reservations are requested rather than walk in seating), but the price of a $10 cocktail and splitting a delicious $7 appetizer makes the experience of watching Times Square come alive after the sun sets less than $30 for two people. This is MORE than worth the price, even with the 20% tip that should be left for the waiter.

But Maybe She Wheel NYC
Times Square, NYC

 

 

The Secret to Broadway

A trip to New York is not complete without a Broadway show, in my opinion. But at upwards of $80 a ticket, the cost is too high for our modest budget. With a little flexibility, there is a way to cut that price in half. Every day of the week in Broadway there’s a show playing and the goal is to have a full house each night. To do this, TKTS Broadway will sell the rest of the unsold tickets the day of a show at half price! These half-priced tickets can be bought at 10am by calling TKTS Broadway or visiting the ticket booth. **WHEN BUYING TICKETS BE SURE TO ASK FOR WHEELCHAIR SEATING** as this is a different ticket than the ones otherwise sold. The night before you can scroll through the website to see what’s playing and see if tickets are available the next day. You possibly may not get to see some of the great headliner shows and that’s where a little flexibility is needed. We got the chance to see Cirque de Solei Paramour this way, which was an incredible show and well worth the $30 ticket/person.

 

Before enjoying the show, we had our cocktails overlooking Times Square and then strolled the two blocks over for a night at the theatre!

But Maybe She Wheel NYC
The greatest view of NYC can be found at the World Trades Center Building and Memorial. Take some time to read the names of the victims of 9/11 in the looking ponds before venturing up the tallest building the America

 

Grade-A Comedy at a Cheapskate Price

If Broadway is not your thing, visiting a comedy club is also a great way to enjoy the vibrant theatre community of New York. One of my favorite comedians, Amy Poehler, helped to start a comedy club school in New York called the Upright Citizens Brigade. Performers from the UCB Theatre have gone on to host and write for shows including Saturday Night Live, Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Daily Show, Veep, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Inside Amy Schumer, and more . The Club has grown and has locations in the East Village and Chelsea. Schedules are posted each week with little blurbs about the skit and performers. Tickets are RIDICOUSLY cheap, as is the beer served for each show. A nice perk is the wheelchair seating is right in the front row!

 

We happened to be visiting New York during the first presidential debate. The night of the debate we went to see the Upright Citizens Brigade perform a satire “mock” debate, which was spot-on and hilarious, and then all the performers joined the audience as we watched the real debate screened on the stage. Watching this debate with a crowd of New Yorkers was a singularly enlightening and humorous experience. When the “Stop and Frisk” law was mentioned, the New Yorkers behind us booed and hissed at the screen. When Trump and HRC spat at each other in their remarks, the audience cheered when HRC spoke and laughed at Trump. But the audience in Long Island physically sitting at the debate cheered at Trump’s remarks precisely when the audience behind me booed. One of the comedy writers for The Jon Oliver Show spoke at the “Round Table” the Club held after the debate, where all the performers and two comedy writers discussed and evaluated the candidates. She spoke on how eerie it felt to hear proof of how vastly different two groups of Americans feel at this election, the boos coming from one side while cheering was heard on the other. “How are we going to come together after this election,” the other comedy writer asked. “How are we going to be able to accept and love the “other side” when this election is done?”. How indeed.

 

Finding the Benches in Central Park

 

Central Park is a different scene with each changing of the seasons. The bright colors of fall fade into the white landscape of a snowy winter, changing then again to the bursts of colors of spring and summer. But the walkways, horse and carriages, and happy parade of dog walkers are the ever constant heartbeat of the park. A trip to the park is not complete without first seeing the Apple Store at the 5th Ave  entrance and then slowly meandering past Belvedere Castle. For an insider’s experience in Central Park, make sure to take note of the benches lining the sidewalks. Each bench has a unique engraving, a message from friend long gone or a memory of a loved one past. Some of the messages are very dear, while others smirk with the sarcastic wit of the messenger. These benches mark the history of the park, as well as encapsulate the spirit of the New Yorkers past and present.

 

But Maybe She Wheel NYC
Don’t forget to check out the always accessible Central Park!

 

Discounts for Disabilities in NYC

But Maybe She Wheel NYC
Chinatown, NYC

 

 

But Maybe She Wheel NYC

 

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The Pike Place Nightmare

Pike Place Nightmare

Thursday, May 19, 2016

7:16 PM

This story has no ending, no moral resolution or lessons learned. There’s no way to tie up this story with a neat little bow at the end and leave with a satisfied sigh. It’s unfortunate and for this, I apologize. If a resolution is to be found, I hope a reader could find it and let me know. I would love to an ending.

 

Being the overzealous twenty-somethings that we are, Dusty and I have yet to learn how to “ease into things” or “take it easy” or even “slow the eff down”. We throw caution to the wind and follow the pace of our beating hearts; fast and with a fury. We decided upon leaving Salt Lake City that we’d next try the infamous Yellowstone National Park, a monument to the West often making the news for some form of wildlife or another approaching stray tourists. Challenge accepted, we dared fate. From Yellowstone we then chose Seattle, home of the famous Pike’s Place Market and newest dwelling on Whidbey Island to another recipient and family of the Service Dog Project, Renee Le Verrier and Sir Thomas. Renee’s Tommy is also Ethel’s uncle, his brother having sired Ethel’s litter. It had been over a year since the two dogs had seen each other.

Antelope Island, Utah But Maybe She Wheel
Our last day in Utah, on Antelope Island

Our first clue that we might be in over our heads occurred just south of the entrance to the park, as a traffic jam rivaling the staus of Stuttgart, Germany welcomed us. Throngs of cars, RVs, bikers and tourist buses honked and waited for the slow crawl to advance. Any hints of trepidation I’d felt began to mount. Thus far, Ethel and I had not encountered crowds together. There was an infamous day at Lamberts Café (a notoriously packed Missouri restaurant made famous by the waiters and waitresses actual throwing the rolls at the patronage), where Ethel tried her hardest to stay down amidst the piles of stray rolls and other food fallen on the floor. We had only been together a few weeks at that point and it was a rougher day for both of us.

But Maybe She Wheel in Washington State
Washington State

But I still hadn’t been prepared for those two days. It had been over a year since I was been made to feel like such a spectacle, a show to satisfy someone else’s curiosity and provide entertainment. It began shortly after we parked the RV and I took her for a run, holding onto her harness and letting her gallop as I rolled with her. “I think that’s cheating!” a potbellied middle aged man in a trucker hat yelled across the parking lot and then proceeded to guffaw at his own joke. That was followed by an entire family yelling at each other to “Come, look!” and each held up a camera to their faces and shot away as I urged Ethel to “Giddy up” and get us out of there.

 

The next day we set out again on our morning run and I tried avoiding any crowds leaving the lodges. No such luck. “Hey, I’ll getcha a saddle!” I heard someone yell behind me and I steered Ethel off into some deserted parking lots.

 

But suddenly Ethel stopped without warning, her nose high in the air. “What’s up, girlie?” I asked her and looked around. Not twenty feet ahead of us was an enormous, bushy bison.

 

“Ok,” I said, trying speak softly, slowly and not as hysterically as I felt, “Just back up, that’s right, we’ll walk backwards for just a little bit… do not show fear, Ethel, that’s the key, don’t show fear”. We crept backwards until we were a safe enough distance away and then, with impressive speed, pulled out my phone and snapped a picture. Because, I mean, photo opportunity of a lifetime. Then at my command, Ethel took off galloping us to safety.

Bison at Yellowstone National Park
Run, Ethel, RUN!

But the day went downhill from there. It started to pour and didn’t let up until that evening. To keep dry, the three of us huddled down in one of the lodges and drank hot coffee. But not in peace; we were interrupted every 1o minutes by someone, or a group of someones, wanting Ethel’s picture or wanting to tell us about their dog or the worst, just reaching down to pet Ethel and get their hand slapped away by me. It was exhausting. “No, she’s not a Dalmatian, she’s a Great Dane from the Service Dog Project. Here’s their poker chip”, “No, you cannot pet her, she’s a Service Dog and she’s working”, “No, you cannot take her picture, you’re interrupting us and she’s working”, ” I’m sorry you lost your dog, but you absolutely cannot touch her” and “Ma’am, please tell your children to stop bothering my Service Dog. They’re distracting her and that’s endangering me”. I put in headphones trying to deter their attention, but that left Dusty getting bombarded instead.

 

We left Yellowstone for the safety of our RV and made a team decision to lick our wounds and take refuge in the welcoming Service Dog Project that awaited us in Seattle. For two days we relished in the rich love of the Le Verrier family, laughing over the antics of our Great Danes frolicking and Ethel stealing any bone or bed that her uncle Tommy had. They sympathized with our experience at Yellowstone and shared similar stories. Capturing the fantastic and resolving curiosity seemed to be of greater priority than respecting personal boundaries or privacy to many of the people we had encountered.

Sir Thomas and Ethel, But Maybe She Wheel Sir Thomas and Ethel, But Maybe She Wheel

 

Still wanted to experience Seattle, we borrowed the Le Verrier car they graciously offered and headed to the city. Ethel wore a borrowed blue vest and collar from her uncle Tommy for me to see how I liked the design, with the words SERVICE DOG printed much more boldly than on Ethel’s normal vest. After finding parking, we meandered to Pike’s Place Market in downtown Seattle. The wind coming off the ocean masked the roar of the throngs of tourists occluding the market and spilling out into the surrounding streets. People yelled for family members, high pitched shrieks of children echoed off the walls and sellers laughed loudly at the inside jokes they shared with one another. The Market, being a true maze in itself, was too packed to wander deeply in and Dusty went on ahead to find a stall that sold something to have for lunch. Almost immediately as the people swallowed Dusty into the crowd in front of where I stood with Ethel, off to the site of a part of the entrance, a finger tapped my shoulder. A woman motioned to her camera, which was pushed so close to my face I had to jerk back to avoid head-butting the invasive object. I pointed to the “SERVICE DOG” clearly written on Ethel’s side and shook my head no. Before she could respond, a man squatted in front of Ethel and began to baby talk “what a pretty girl she was”. I asked Ethel to back up and told the man to “Please stop interacting with my service dog, she’s working” to which he said “Geez, sorry” and walked away. I spoke with Ethel, explained to her what had just happened but was then poked again. “Oh, she is just a doll,” a woman with a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt cooed. “So what do you have? Cerebral Palsy? MS? I’m a nurse practitioner,” she explained, as if that gave her permission to ask about my private medical history. Before I could answer this baffling invasion of my privacy in such a public setting, I noticed that two separate people behind her were filming me with their phones. “Stop. Leave us alone”, I told the group with what I hoped was a voice that hid the exasperation I was feeling. Suddenly there was a high-pitched wailing coming from a child being held by her overwhelmed mother already holding the hand of an older brother. “She gets to have her dog in here, why can’t I have Maxy” she cried, her red face glaring at Ethel and me. “Why don’t we ask her if we can pet the dog?” the mom said, trying to placate her crying child. “No, I’m sorry, she can’t. This is a service dog,” I answered, fearing the child’s reaction. The girl’s entire face seemed to split open as the loudest shrieking cry heard yet emanated from the gaping mouth. Ethel and I quickly turned around and fled the market.

Pike's Place, Seattle But Maybe She Wheel

Wearily, our trio returned to the warm embrace of the Le Verrier as the sun set over the splashing waves of the sound. We retold our nightmare of the market to their indignant faces, outraged and disappointed that our Seattle experience had matched Yellowstone. They fixed us dinner, gave us beer and seltzer water to soothe our souls and regaled us with stories of their new Washington life. Their happiness and contentment in their new surroundings was evident, even in the quiet face of their 14 year old son who failed to have the surly demeanor 14 year old boys are usually prone to having.

Washington State, But Maybe She Wheel IMG_9112 Washington State, But Maybe She Wheel Washington State, But Maybe She Wheel Washington State, But Maybe She Wheel

Washington State, But Maybe She Wheel
Washington State
Washington State, But Maybe She Wheel
Washington State

Washington State, But Maybe She Wheel Washington State, But Maybe She Wheel

We set off from then to the refuge of Oregon, desiring the trees and ocean to be our only companions and the seals and seagulls our only interactions. I do not know the lesson of our Nightmare at Pike’s Place, only that I lack the thick skin and steely demeanor of someone who knows how to survive in an overpopulated area just like the seemingly cold personalities of so many people I’ve met in New England cities who’ve adopted that attitude out of necessity. If I must, I’m sure Ethel and I can adapt to this lifestyle. In the meantime, I have lunch with a seagull awaiting me and I really can’t miss it.

 

An old friend, now an international Occupational Therapist, perfectly surmised this experience and gave me her insight. As someone who is an advocate for disabilities and has the unique perspective of having watched me transition from able-bodied to disabled, she identified the true need in both these nightmares: education.

 Moral of this story: a complete lack of education provided to our society. Lack of education regarding people that appear “different” than us. Lack of education regarding resources for individuals, such as yourself, that utilize various forms of assistance throughout their daily lives. And lack of education for the respect and dignity of people of all cultures, races, ethnicities, and varying degrees of abilities! You should honestly start carrying a brochure around with you. Every time someone tries to touch sweet Ethel when she is working you can emphatically hand them the brochure with a large and friendly 😉 stop sign on the front and then details on the inside about Ethel’s role. Unfortunately, our society, while better than many out there, doesn’t adequately educate the public on abilities and disabilities, and therefore our American people go on living as if they are entitled to handle your service dog!” – Hayley C., Pediatric Occupational Therapist

But Maybe She Wheel, RV, Washington State, Olympic

 

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Finding my Mother's Hug in Sevilla

Seville, Spain

I’m named after my mom’s best friend from her twenties, Julianne. They lived in Palo Alto, California together, where my mom worked as a nurse and Julianne worked at a university. Julianne befriended my mom, who was in a bad relationship and needed a friend. Julianne helped my mom regain her strength and her faith, giving her the courage she needed to end the relationship and move out on her own. My mom moved into one half of a duplex and together they prayed that someone nice would move in next door. The next person to move in was my dad.

My parents moved from California to be near to my mom’s parents in Indiana, where I grew up, and Julianne went on from that university in California to working for the Universidad de Sevilla, Spain. I grew up hearing stories of Julianne and repeating the foreign word, Se-vee-ya, to myself. As soon as I was old enough to understand where Spain was, I knew that was where I was meant to travel.

Traveling was a tradition in my family growing up, but not the fancy way of flying in airplanes and taking taxis. Nope, we were all piled into our six passenger minivan, made seat forts with our Ninja Turtle sleeping bags and spent the miles fighting over who got to play with the Bop-it next. I loved every minute of it. From my suspiciously sticky back seat window, I saw the plains of the Midwest, held my breath as we climbed the Rocky mountains and fidgeted to get out and feel the sand of Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The four of us kids slept, ate ungodly amounts of potato chips and (believe it or not, read books and quizzed each other with Brain Quest flashcards. My mom made a fight for education in every minute of our free time) and counted the hours we’d been on the road. No amount of highway mileage was too far for my mom to want us to see a certain destination, so driving 22 hours was not an unusual amount. By the time I was 16, I had seen or driven through 48 states and down the coast of Mexico.

We knew she was terminal in her fight with cancer by my 17th birthday. My parents insisted that we celebrate; I wanted nothing less than to remember it was my birthday. I knew that age 17 would always be the age that I would have to say, “I was 17 when my mom died”. I wanted with all my heart to stay 16, stay the same age that I was when my mom was alive, stay the same age that I was before she told us she had cancer. Once I turned 17, she was going to die. Once I turned 17, I would have to start my life of living without her.

I was lost in those months once she was gone, but I hid my grief and pain as much as I could. People surrounded my siblings and I, consoling and loving us in ways so innumerable that we still can’t count them all. Food always found its’ way to our fridge for months, whether or not anyone was shopping. Friends were always even less than a phone call away. I will forever have an undying gratitude for the magnitude of love I felt during those months and years and even present day. But I am my mother’s daughter. And as such, the attention and care became stifling to my confused, lost heart. At school, I went through the halls feeling like I was an exhibit at a zoo. “Watch, it’s her, she lost her mom,” “Wait, was that a cough or a sob? Is she going to start crying now? Is this grieving?” My guidance counselors gave me these long looks after they embraced me, their eyes almost saying “ok, ready, set, grieve!”

I needed to get out. I needed to follow my mom’s lessons about the world; there is always something beautiful to see at the end of the road. I needed to see that the world is more than the pain that I was feeling, more than the overwhelming tides of exhaustion and hopelessness that consumed me. I connected with the local university and a local church; they were on their way to Tegulcigalpa, Honduras for mission and I knew I had to go with them.

I received a tremendous amount of support to pay for my ticket and I left to regain my spirit. And through travel, I did. I returned the next year and received the same affirmation of the goodness of the world that I desperately needed the year before. I began dating a guy my mom had always liked and our first dating adventure was to drive to New York from Indiana. We drove for hours and drank coke on Times Square as the New Year’s ball dropped and confetti rained down on us.

Seville, Spain

Fast forward 7 years and here I am, once again driving in a car on a road trip to see the world. I have that boy by my side once again, but now I have a ring he gave me on my left hand. We’re roadtripping for 9 days from our home in Germany to the Atlantic coast of Portugal and back, hugging the southern coast of Spain, the south of France and northern Italy along the way. We drove into Sevilla on Day 4, Christmas Eve day, after climbing the cliffs of Portugal and munching the tapas of Lisbon. Sevilla is a city of ambiance, complete aesthetic delight but was built on ideas from adventure. Queen Isabella listened to Christopher Columbus talk about “finding Asia” on his quest and she knew this was the beginning of another era of the “New World”. She expanded the royal palace, Alcazar, for a whole section dedicated to quests like Columbus’s. But painted on nearly every building’s walls is the true face of Sevilla; depicted as crying, the concerned but proud Mother Virgin Mary looks over Sevilla to bless every voyage, every journey, every traveler. Sevilla holds a statue of the Virgin Mary, south of the city center, made famous by her tears leaking from her stone face. The tears are now studded with crystal, but the Virgin Mary of Sevilla still blesses her city to this day.

Seville, Spain

If there was ever a harmony between two opposing religions, it exists in the beauty of Sevilla. Beautiful Moorish buildlings, white walls with tiles adorning the doorways and red tiled roofs, pack the streets and black bulls were found grafitted on severfal buldings here or there. Bull-fighting is an ancient sport of Spain, but Sevilla is the home of bull-fighting and houses the championships for the matadors every year. Green vines entandgle the pillared terraces where people stop to eat and the narrow streets are lined with bright orange trees. (Not for eating, however. They’re too bitter, but they’re instead used for fragrences, cleaning agents or medicine). The Islamic culture lives and breathes in the pointed oval windows and sacred geometrical stone carvings lining the doorways, but right next door is the largest Gothic Catholic cathedral in Europe. Sevilla’s history is one of bloodshed as these two religions, monarchies and cultures clashed, but present day Sevilla is a representation of the peace and harmony that since grew.

And I saw the city as the magical, almost mythical city I’d dreamed of for a decade. This was the Sevilla of my mother’s youth, the city she talked of taking me to before I knew of Spain. I was there for her, to fulfill her dream of taking me to see this piece of the world. I went through the city looking for pieces of my mom, looking for hints as to why she had wanted to come here with me. I paused at every sight, trying to take as many pictures of the beauty as I could, trying to navigate the small doorways and steps, opening my eyes wide as if I could take in the entire city if I just tried hard enough. I looked in doorways and small alleyways, thinking that I would see a glimpse of some art or scene that would remind me of her. It was a tremendous, exhausting day. I maxed the memory on my camera, dropped my husband’s cell phone in the looking pond of the Alacazar and then managed to fight of panic attacks for losing my husband’s cell phone in the looking pond of the Alcazar. It was quite a day.

But no matter how hard I looked, I couldn’t find her. I didn’t see traces of the proud, smiling woman with ready hugs and sharp, inappropriate wit. I looked in the faces of the women we passed; I searched in the faces of the robust Spanish cook in a tiny café who laughed at her own broken English and smiled proudly at my painful attempts to order breakfast, the caring Alcazar guard who informed me in her own unhurried way that there was no way to recover my husband’s cell phone but then laughed and gave me a long, sympathetic hug. I looked in the uplifted, lit face of the woman praying in the infamous Seville Cathedral, her face turned up to the figure of Jesus on the cross and her hands turned up towards the heavens.

But I didn’t find her. I couldn’t see her in any of these women, as unique and beautiful as they were.

Seville, Spain

As we left the Alcazar in search of tapas, I felt defeated. I’d been waiting my whole adolescence and adulthood to come to Seville, to feel the connection with this magical place I’d dreamed of, to find the parts of my mother when she was young that I’d never known. Did I fail? What if I couldn’t find my mother here? Was I letting her down?

In the swarm of tourists circling the Alcazar compound, we passed a garden with a family looking at a beautiful, intricate fountain surrounded by the orange trees that line the streets of Seville. The young boys of the family were starting to walk off, bored now that they weren’t allowed to throw any more oranges at each other and then the dad too left, chasing after the boys. The mom was hurriedly gathering the backpacks and water all tourist families are burdened by, but the little girl wouldn’t move. She was encapsulated by the fountain and the moving water. Her small hand was moving leaves on the water surface and when her mother took her other hand to lead her towards the boys, she jerked it back and began to cry. She didn’t want to go, she wanted to see more.

Seville, Spain

In a cliché moment of traveling self-realization/epiphany, I got it. I got why my mom wanted to take me to Seville and why I was meant to be here.

I wasn’t supposed to find my mom In Seville. Her dream of taking me to Sevilla was her dream of having a daughter that would have the opportunity to see the world and the curiosity to explore its’ mysteries. She wanted for me to have the spirit of that little girl, to want and desire to see more, experience more. I was in Sevilla to find myself, find the piece in me that is still her daughter, still learning and growing and connecting with the woman who will never stop loving me, even in death.

At that moment I felt my mother’s embrace, the hug that I will always remember in my heart and be able to conjure up the feeling for the rest of my life. Her arms go around and cross behind my back and she squishes my head to her shoulder while her own head rests on top of mine. Maybe it was the Spanish breeze, maybe the sweet wine and the salty olives, but I felt the reassurance, comfort and squeezing love that someone can only get from their mother’s embrace.

I finally went to Seville. And there, inside myself I felt my mother’s hug squeeze my heart and her voice whisper in my ear, “Well done, my daughter. You made it.”

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