Prompt Images

I went to New York City for five days, and this picture was my favorite moment.

Photo credit: John Papageorgiou

Why? Because sometimes you go to NYC for five days and all you get to do is take a picture next to a trash can at one in the morning on your final day of vacation.

I’m a planner.

Not just by personality, but also by profession. Which means it’s my job to anticipate things going wrong and having solutions for problems that may never even arise. In my humble opinion, this is a great skill to have for a job, but not necessarily in your personal life—because you will drive yourself insane trying to anticipate everything all the time.

After spending a decade of anticipating everything for another client, I found myself single and ready to do something on my own. I decided to spend five days in my favorite place, which I hadn’t been to in far too long.

When I boarded my train for NYC last week—after 2 months of planning my perfect trip—I immediately knew something was wrong. Not in a my dad will need to use his particular set of skills to get me out of this kind of way. But, as in, I was uncomfortably overheated.

I’m a real girls’ girl. Which means I’m always cold.

My favorite fashion accessory is three fuzzy blankets. But here I am, in the middle of February, on a train, stripping down to my tank top, sweating bullets.

By the time I reached the city I was full on patient zero. Sweating, sneezing, coughing, headache, dizziness—the full nine. I got to my friend’s empty apartment, said hi to the cats I was taking care of while she was in the Bahamas, and took to the bed for three full days.

Fortunately, I was so sick I could barely care that I was missing out on all the fun I had planned. I had a warm apartment to myself with a comfortable bed and all the Netflix I could binge watch.  Also I had the two fluffiest kitty companions to entertain me. Even if I died, there was an automatic feeder and waterer, so at least the cats would survive without me.

I spent the three days in bed taking enough cold medicine to take down a baby elephant, which granted me enough sleep to feel well enough to leave the germ-infested abode on my last full day in town.

The subway took me from Harlem downtown to Times Square, where I had a lovely day with a good friend who was willing to put himself at risk of the plague to spend some time with me. I put my planning instincts aside and let him take the reins and guide me about this city that I love so much, trusting that he had my back and would make the day great. And it was.

Which brings me back to my picture.

My being sick sidelined just about every part of the plan I had spent two months making for this trip. And yet, this one moment—where I was sick, but smiling, because I got to spend a few hours with a friend laughing at inside jokes about Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, in the center of this City that I love—was everything to me. I could have understandably been miserable and crabby, but I decided to let go of those terrible feelings. And now have this wonderful and funny story, not to feel sad about, but to look back and smile.

That’s what being an adult is, recognizing these small moments as some of the most important. Giving up control to the universe, or to a trusted friend, can make all the difference.

Cecelia Halpert

Cecelia is an amateur storyteller, writer, and adult. She hopes to go pro in all three someday.

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