I had the best commute of my life last week. That is an insane sentence, I know. But 100% true.
In NYC commuting means smooshing yourself in a sardine-packed subway or watching the meter tick higher and higher as you sit in a taxi in stand still traffic. When I worked an event on Ellis Island, however, commuting meant boarding a ferry and enjoying the journey to work like a sightseeing tourist.
The weather was gray and foggy. No one, not even the tourists from Istanbul, was more excited than me when the sky cleared enough to see the top of One World Trade.
This was not a short commute. The ferry stopped at the Statue of Liberty before docking us at Ellis Island. Which meant we got to see Lady Liberty in all her glory. Guess who waved at this American beacon of hope? Not the fanny-pack wearing, white bread eaters from Omaha. Nope, me. The blogger who’s lived in New York for eight years but never set foot on Liberty Island.
I’m planning to book my ticket to go up in the crown as soon as I can find someone New York crazed enough to go with me! Who wants to be the third wheel on my date with Lady Liberty?
I’d never been to Ellis Island before either. Neither has any of my family; I felt disappointed I couldn’t look for a name along the wall of immigrants who had passed through. Their stories are seeped into every crack of the island, the remnants of hope and hardship still feel so tangible every where you step on this tiny little island in New York harbor.
Even though I was working, I made the most of every bathroom break. Peeking at exhibits and even running up to the main hall where 5,000 immigrants came through every single day at its peak.
It’s easy to let your imagination run away with you, though it’s impossible to fathom what coming to this island after crossing the Atlantic was like.
These days, we freak out about moving to NYC by a 6 hour plane ride. Even when we speak the language, know a handful of people, and have the full scope of the internet along with hundreds of agencies to help us find a job. I might say I moved here with nothing, but Ellis Island gives that statement such a reality check it makes me want to slap myself.
If you just moved to New York and feel overwhelmed, visit Ellis Island. If you’ve lived in New York 8 years and feel like you’re never going to make it, visit Ellis Island. The perspective will do you good. Also, the views are killer and learning history, standing on the ground it took place is 5,000 times more powerful than any classroom or book.
The commute back was spectacular as well. I don’t know how often people get to be on Ellis Island at night, but it felt even more special.
Guess who waved good bye to this incredible little island, glowing with warm light in the cold, dark New York waters?
Hint: she’s a New York Cliché.