“I’ve got a great idea,” I blurted out with a cautiously enthusiastic tone one evening about three months ago as my artist wife and I got ready for bed.
The idea had been percolating in my mind for years by this point. Travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic had left it closer to a distant dream, no different than the planned trip to Cooperstown.
She stopped brushing her teeth and looked at me.
“What is it?” she asked plainly through a toothpaste-filled mouth with zero enthusiasm. Zero.
Due to my cautiously enthusiastic tone, she must have known that things were likely about to go sideways.
You see, my artist wife has wanted to go to New York City for as long as I’ve known her, which, at this point in her life, is longer than she hasn’t known me. (Bless her heart for her ability to persevere.)
With many distinguished museums, galleries, and pop-up exhibits, the New York City art scene is among the greatest in the world. I don’t know any artist who wouldn’t want to spend days, if not weeks, immersed in the Big Apple. My wife is no different.
In fact, with 100 paintings and 60 sketches and lithographs, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum owns the world’s largest collection of artwork by Wassily Kandinsky, my wife’s favorite historical artist. In addition, the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art both have Kandinsky pieces in their collections.
As a direct result of these facts, to say a trip to New York City is “on her bucket list” would be understatement.
We went to Chicago for our 10th Anniversary, and I have always had New York City in the back of my mind for one of these milestone anniversaries. This year was our 15th anniversary, but there would be no trip for her to The City That Never Sleeps.
To the contrary for me, however.
When one of your dreams is an MLB stadium tour with your son — the ultimate trip of a lifetime for two baseball-crazed boys — and when you have about six days in which to do it, you look to the area of the country with the highest concentration of stadiums.
That would be the Washington, D.C. to New York City corridor. The stadiums of the New York Yankees, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Baltimore Orioles, and Washington Nationals are all within that three-hour corridor.
Of course, New York City is on that list. Twice.
I knew this idea — bringing her son to New York before I brought her — would go over as well as an iceberg in the north Atlantic on the maiden voyage of the world’s only unsinkable ship. That ship, it should be noted, was also headed to New York.
New York being on that list — twice — meant I had major damage control to do before I hit the icy ocean of cold shoulder.
… I had built in some factors that would mitigate damage to our relationship and hopefully to my body.
Fortunately, in my planning for this once-in-a-lifetime trip that would see her son step foot in New York City before her, I had built in some factors that would mitigate damage to our relationship and hopefully to my body:
- First would be the fact that he and I would quite literally only be there for one day and that our only purpose for setting foot in New York City was to attend an MLB baseball game at Citi Field in Queens. (Thank you New York Yankees for not having a home game that week and making it two days in the Big Apple.)
- Second would be the fact that he and I would almost certainly be staying away from any of the above-named museums. There would be no repeat of The Van Gogh Visit on this trip; and,
- Third would be that I was letting our 11-year-old son choose the extra activities we would take part in, which my loving wife would most certainly realize would be focused on activities that she would have no interest in.
So, there we stood. Her with her toothbrush hanging out of her mouth and me with a contrite but steadfast look on my face as I shared my great idea.
After I spilled the beans and shared all the mitigating factors I had worked into the trip planning, she shrugged and continued brushing.
I stood there. Waiting.
Was that it? Was something more coming? Were those slightly more aggressive toothbrush strokes than normal? Was that toothpaste spit-out harder than her usual spit-out?
The silence was killing me.
Finally, she finished brushing her teeth.
“Have fun,” she said.
I didn’t know how to respond. Was that really it? Have fun? Had my mitigating factors worked? Really?
“Ok,” I replied, but wanted to see how she truly felt. “But I think we might also hit up the Guggenheim. It’s a cool building and…”
Immediately, her eyes were piercing through my soul.
“Ah, uh, never mind,” I said immediately, “We’ll just stick with the stadium and whatever two or three activities he comes up with for that day before we head down to Washington.”
Sinking of my dream averted.