When dad called me with the specific – and sole – intention of singing the Hill Street Blues theme tune down the phone to me, I knew excitement levels had reached fever pitch. We were at the summit of peak excitement. After many years of thinking about it, and not a little time planning it, I am taking mum and dad to New York for the first time.
I'm writing about it here in a relationships column because, for me, they are my greatest love of all. It's partly because I've managed to remain single until the ripe old age of 37 and I've leaned on them more than most do. But mainly because we actually like each other and – shocker – enjoy spending time together. This is a bucket-list trip for them and I am so happy I am the one to make it happen.
When we finally plumped to book the flights, having postponed them a few times for various unavoidable reasons, dad's take was: "Ali, we've got to go now, before it's too late". He was half joking, as he always is, but we both knew there was some truth in it. He's 74 in May, which I still can't get my head around, and he's also had to pay a small fortune to insure himself to travel to the US after he had a stroke a few years ago. You can't fail to be aware that time may be short.
And that's the takeaway from this – it's easy to get caught up in romantic relationships, find yourself obsessing over the bullsh*t of modern dating (my MO for many years), and worrying yourself half to death about work. Parents often figure low down on the priorities list, especially if you don't live in the same town. But perhaps they shouldn't. While there are adventures still to be had, well, you better have them.
We've all written a list of the places we want to go to in New York. As first-timers, they want to see Ellis Island and the Empire State Building and Central Park. I can't wait to see those landmarks again through their eyes. And then throw that all over and meet up with a friend in Brooklyn who'll show them everything not on the tourist map. Mainly, though, it's just being there, soaking it all up with them.
"I just want to see those streets that I saw in films, as a lad," says dad, managing to capture the poetry in that inimitable way that he does.
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