December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)
I've been thinking about this all day, and the moment I keep coming back to is the one when I emerged onto 8th Avenue from Penn Station on my birthday trip to New York City in July. It was the first time I'd gone to New York on my own, and the first time I'd gone for more than a day in several years. It was one of the hottest days of the summer, the sun was shining brilliantly and it was just after 10 am (I'd walked to the train station in Lancaster fairly early that morning). There was the usual throng of people outside of Penn Station, waiting for buses, trying to figure out which way they needed to go, who knows. For once, I wasn't one of the confused. I came up the stairs, out the doors, and immediately turned right and pointed myself in the general direction of Union Square Park and the Green Market. I ducked briefly into a doorway and took a quick peek at my map to be sure of exactly how to get there, then threw myself into the flow of Saturday morning Manhattan pedestrian traffic.
This may not seem like such an extraordinary moment for most people, but that fact that I was where I was, on my own, confident in where I was going and what I was doing was a huge turning point for me. It was a release of a level of anxiety I wasn't sure would ever recede, and an expansion of life after six-and-a-half years of contraction, during which my life seemed to get smaller and more confined with every turn.
The four days I spent in New York (all but I few hours of which I spent with no one I knew) were a reminder that I have the whole wide world in front of me, and that I need not let it be taken away by myself or anyone else. That reminder began to gel the moment I stepped out into the July humidity that first moment.