Did I ever tell you about the tale of the young married mother of one that defied all the rules and flew on three planes to New York city without her husband or child in tow… doing it only to holiday solo for 10 days?
This is that story.
And it’s about me.
My mum, my brother and I are walking to the park some 1/2 a kilometre from home. A rickety bach situated among flashy mansions littered along the waterfront in Point Wells, Matakana, New Zealand. I’m 10 years old with crooked teeth, my brother Lenny is 14 with a gross wispy moustache, my mum is stunning at 39 with 90’s permed hair, a perfect smile and an amazing hour glass figure.
The day was beautiful. We had fish and chips by the sea, I had raw hands from playing on the swings all afternoon, dirt on my knees from jumping off on to the bark and tomato sauce on my D&T shirt – the very one I’d worn twice already that week, because Ryan Armstrong spoke to me one day when I was wearing it, and even though he was a year younger than me, he was ‘cute’ and he had a nice house with a computer, so for goodness sake I was going to do everything I could to recreate the conditions so that he would talk to me again.
We watched the sun go down and heard the flickering of the lamp posts coming to power with the nightfall… Mum and Lenny have the swings while I stand facing them having some meaningless conversation, the details of that moment are funnily enough pretty blank in my mind, but the next conversation rocked me in my little world at that point. Five years earlier, our Dad died in a car accident. Here we were five years later still trying to do life without him as best we could, I have other brothers, but because of the age differences, Lenny and I grew up in what was like a household with only two children.
What came out of that conversation was the information that my Dad wasn’t Lennys biological Dad.
His biological Dad was an African-American man called Grady that Mum had met when she was only 24.
My little 10 year old heart was broken. I don’t know why, it just was. I didn’t have the understanding at that moment that he wasn’t any less my brother, or that years later I would find myself with an unrelenting urge to visit the country he has blood ties to.
Little did I know that from there on out, ‘America’ would be my number one destination.
I’m 15 years old living in Sydney Australia. I’d just woken up on a muggy morning trying to mentally prepare myself for a double period of yawn worthy ‘Computer Studies’ with Mr Silver (who totally had it out for me), when I hear Mum yelling “O my gosh!!” from the lounge room. I walk in to see her and my Dad (step) watching the repeated footage of two planes hitting two towers I’d never heard of.
Within those first few weeks of September, I’d learned what a Terrorist was, I had learned that there was a man called Osama Bin Laden and I had become a veteran of bomb threat drills at School. If there was an exam, one of the naughty boys from the naughty group would ring and say there was a bomb planted somewhere on School grounds, thus putting the exam off for the next day. I actually can’t count how many times this happened.
With the weeks to follow, I had collected every clipping in the papers of the people that had lost their lives and put it in to a scrapbook. I couldn’t believe that there were people in the world willing to sacrifice their own lives in order to kill so many others. It didn’t make sense to my 15 year old mind.
My eyes were being opened to the World I was living in, that there was much more to life than living on the central coast of NSW. When Dad died – because of certain circumstances, we practically lost everything, including our house. We’d become a family needing food grants, Mum and I shared a bunk bed with my cousin at one point, we went from borrowing rooms in the houses of friends and family, to almost living in luxury in Australia… I thought it was the ultimate end. Not having a need or a care in the world, my Parents had awesome jobs, we had a huge house, a brand new car, a pool, I was doing great in School, I had heaps of friends. And then September 11… something shifted in me.
My scrapbook was something I’d look at almost everyday… I was drawn to the faces that stared back at me. My heart was broken for humanity, it was broken for the American people and even more so because I had a blood tie that had a blood tie to the land.
This was the beginning of my desire to oneday see where the towers stood.
It’s the start of a new farming season and I’m looking back on the previous year, all the hard work, all the stress and tears that followed our very first year of running our own business Sharemilking 270 odd Cows in Northland, New Zealand. I have a daughter who is 2 and a half, I’m the ripe old age of 26, Dan (Husband) is 28, we’ve finally got all the creases ironed out in our job.
Regardless of all the successes in our business, I feel undone.
There is something within me that just wont shut up. There is a part that is telling me I need to defy all the rules laid out for women of young children, for wives of hard workers, for people with important responsibilities and to actually stop and listen to my heart.
I want to go to New York City.
I’m a person that believes in the ultimate Creator, I cried out to Him. I know because He created me, He knows me better than I know myself, He knit me in my mothers womb after all… He knows my biggest frustration is that articulation isn’t my strong point. I feel half alive and half dead. I feel like travel is essential to my soul – but I’m remembering those rules, how mothers of young children and wives of husbands don’t pack suitcases and go to places like New York City. I’m remembering the money, I’m remembering how this is just CRAZY.
By this time I’ve been married for 6 and 1/2 years. One day I just say to my husband, “I really really want to go to New York, I can’t stop thinking about it”.
Dan has heard me go on and on about my desire to breathe in New York. To eat that giant slice of pizza, to share a kiss on top of the Empire State building, to eat off a sidewalk vendor, to walk down Fifth Avenue like Sting, to journal in Central Park, to wolf down a genuine red velvet cupcake and to visit the World Trade Centre site for years and years at this point.
He’s making a ham sandwich for his lunch when he says without even looking up, “Okay, we’ll go together in January.”
I hardly slept that night.
This is happening. I’ve only got three months to mark off on my calendar.
To cut a long story short, Dan pulls out of the trip, and he books MY tickets for two weeks time. HE is making me go because he knows it is my dream. HE is the one telling me its essential to my soul. HE is the one telling me I’m going to be fine. HE is the one telling me I need to defy the rules. HE is the one telling me life is short.
New York. Me. Alone. In two weeks.
This was my dream and the reality was kicking in fast.
I was going to New York City alone for 10 days.
I didn’t know a soul.
I started Googling how not to get mugged and murdered, the crime rates, how safe it was to go solo as a woman… yknow, just the usual. I started freaking out because it was then apparent that even though it was only for 10 days, it was 10 days with a massive half world between me and my little girl. It wasn’t like I could get into the car and see her in a few hours, it was getting on a plane and flying 5.5 hours to L.A then 13 hours to Sydney, then 3.5 hours to New Zealand, then driving 2 hours to see her… oh and the stop over times in between.
I’d read about a kid almost dying because he swallowed one of those really small circular batteries and the acid began eating away at his stomach. Nevermind we don’t actually have any in the house but what if she swallowed one and it started eating away at her insides when I was in New York?
I was letting fear get the better of me. My husband told me I needed to see that I was letting the enemy rob kill and destroy. “Don’t let him rob your joy”, was something I’ll always remember him telling me. This was my dream and again, my husband was needing to encourage it. My dream man.
The Sunday before I left, a travelling ministry was coming through town (Benny Tan), and without knowing my circumstances or any details, he tells me “God is telling you to step out of the boat – He has given you big dreams and desires, and He doesn’t give them to not deliver them”.
I was stunned. I then remembered when I was 19 I had two other seperate travelling ministries come through town and say the same thing to me! Why did I forget!?
Israel K from Africa: “God has given you big dreams and He will birth them”
Norm McLeod: “God has given you huge dreams and He will bring them in to being”
All this was about New York? Was this whole thing so much bigger than I initially thought? I knew I wouldn’t realise the enormity of it all for a while. Maybe I never will realise just how big this whole thing was.
I knew I had to suck it up and do this thing. I had to do it for me. I had to “step out of the boat” in obedience. I had to do it for the little girl that copies everything I do, the little one who wears all Mummies jewellery and trinkets and things. I had to do it for my hard working husband. I had to do it for all who couldn’t do it. For all those who were bound by the rules. For all those who were bitter toward me (I had some true opposition). For all those who thought I was having a crisis. For those who actually thought I must’ve met a man online (yep someone ACTUALLY thought this). For those that didn’t get it. Life has to be lived. I had to live this moment.
So I did.