Big city life has always enticed me—people walking up and down the streets in the winter with their Starbuck’s in hand, wrapped in their long black coats and decorative scarves; a full and exciting life awaiting the dawn of every day so that it may weave its fingers through the sunrise once more. A man sits on the street corner, cradling his saxophone in his gloved hands and playing a slow melody that brings peaceful energy to those listening. Tourists snap pictures of the big buildings and walk slowly, drinking in the sights and sounds of their surroundings.

Having never been to New York City, Chicago, or other such cities brimming with the richness of culture and sensationalistic atmosphere, my views of these places are shamelessly romanticized. However, in December of 2007, I was given the opportunity to experience a small taste of the city life which I so earnestly desire to experience in all its glory.

My dad had planned to take a one night business trip to Kansas City to deliver Christmas baskets that he had put together for his customers. I always loved traveling with him—so, I asked if I could go. To my great pleasure, my parents decided that I could. I woke up early the morning of our trip, around 5:00 AM. I never had trouble waking up early when I had something to look forward to. Dad and I had fun in the car, listening to music and talking on the way to Kansas City. Later on, dad informed me that we would be spending the evening at the Plaza. I had never heard of it before, but it sounded nice. After visiting several of his customers, we took our bags to the hotel we were staying at and prepared to set off for dinner at the Plaza. We drove for probably 45 minutes through downtown Kansas City in rush hour traffic before finally reaching the Plaza.

The sun had already rolled out of sight by the time we had parked our car in the massive parking garage inside of the Plaza. As I walked out of the concrete building, a strangely foreign and yet familiar world entranced me with its bright lights and waves of people—some in business suits, and some in jeans; almost all wearing smiles and breathing steam in the cold winter air. I must say, I’ve never felt so “at home” in my life. Perhaps that’s the purpose of those places—maybe that’s why so many people flock to their luxuries and excitements in places like this.

As we walked down the red brick sidewalks, Dad and I looked for a restaurant where we could get some dinner. We found a place called Houston’s which we chose. I must preface this next part by saying that in the few months before this trip I had developed a near obsession with the movie Ratatouille—stunning animation, an enchanting score, amazing story, and a talking rat chef; I mean, seriously…does it get any better than that?

As we walked into the dimly lit restaurant, we were greeted by a woman dressed all in black who led us to our table. The table which we sat at was candlelit, creating an atmosphere that gives you instant goose bumps if you have a flair for the dramatic. After our orders were taken I took a better look around, breathing in my surroundings. I peered over the tables next to us, trying to catch glimpses of the busy kitchen. I heard pots clanging merrily and shouts from various people in the steaming room. As I continued to stare, I began to talk, partly to myself and partly to dad, about what the positions of the different cooks were, based on what I had learned from observing Gusteau’s restaurant in Ratatouille.

Apparently our waiter, a young man also dressed completely in black, had noticed my looking into the kitchen and walked coolly to our table to see if we needed anything. My dad chuckled as he related what I was doing to the man who patiently listened. I was thinking “No Dad! Don’t tell him my pathetic story or my illusions of class will be gone forever!” Much to my relief, after straightening the napkin that lay over his arm, the waiter smiled and began his slightly more relaxed reply by relaying to us why he thought Ratatouille was such an excellent movie. Of course he would like it—why wouldn’t he? After all, he worked at this exquisite place! Still, it surprised me…I guess I thought all of these people were just drones, putting on a show for my fascinated eyes.

So, it wasn’t New York City, but it was my first taste of the life that has always given me the warmest feelings. I hope someday to experience it again—the sensation of complete and utter well being that the city brings is inexplicably refreshing. Until then, I’ll just keep dreaming it up—sipping a warm mug of strong, black coffee, listening to my favorite jazz artists, and scribbling out my daydreams in the form of words.


To read more memories, please visit Lynnette Kraft @ Dancing Barefoot.


Anonymous said...

Beautifully written and what a rich memory. City life can be so exciting can't it? But there is that 'grass is always greener' saying and I can imagine the city folk thinking, 'Oh what I'd do for a break away in the country'. Variety is the spice of life and all that jazz! Thanks for a good read. I really could picture the scene. Have a great week! Sarah x

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Abigail - the innocence in which you look to these "romantic" places is charming. Hold onto them now but remember it is not even grass is greener sydrome - the big city is NOT all it is cracked up to be and defintily not romantic at all. Maybe like your Mom said in spurts - the shows, the lights, the rest's, but in the end home is where the heart is, love is deep within your soul, romance dims and fades but true love lasts forever!

Hugs and blessings precious one!
Mrs. S

Lilyofthevalley - Tanya said...

Enjoyed reading! :)

Anonymous said...

Fun Memory!

(We love Ratatouille as well. Although it did take me a bit to not get grossed out by all of those rats!)



Pen to Paper; Spirit to Soul said...

I love your writing style! I don't like the downtown Dallas area but I understand the excitement of a fancy restaurant! I'm glad you enjoyed your visit to the big city!!!

Tracy P. said...

What a precious time with your dad. Your fascination with stories makes your affinity with the city a natural--there is a new story every ten feet!

I've had so much fun catching up over here today, Abigail. I think I should have you autograph something for me now before you get too famous. Then I'll be able to say I was reading you before it was cool! ;-)

Jared Kraft said...

Awesome post. I'm sure the city has it's share of horrors, but (as is always my opinion) a life spent reveling in worries is a life not worth living. Dreams my friend, dreams!
Long live Remy! : )

Jared Kraft said...

By the way.... I love you and think your posts and perspective rock. : )

Unknown said...

You silly! :) As Sarah said, "the grass IS always greener"! ha! It really is a more charming place in small spurts and in the movies - but of course you ARE entitled to your own opinion! (and Kansas City is very mild compared to LA and NYC).

Does it sound like I'm trying to scare you away? ha ha!

I know you love the country living too - it's just since you live it you don't have to dream about it. :)
PS And I do agree...there is something charming about city living...(until you have children).

Kristin said...

What a beautiful memory! I always tell my husband that if I was single and had never met him or had kids, that I truly believe I would live in the city and work downtown in big skyscraper. It sounds so adventurous!

Robert Zamees said...

Oh, the innocent and the ideal... you were SO CLOSE to good food. The Classic Cup was right across the street!

Julie said...

Your writing always amazes me! I wish I was as talented as you!

I love the city too...I don't think I'd want to live there, but visiting is always nice. And the Plaza is gorgeous, so it's always fun to walk around there...with Starbucks in hand of course! :)

Robert Zamees said...

Starbuck's? Noooooo!

Hit up Scooter's on 47th or, if you must, there are two Latte Land locations on both the east and west parts of the Plaza!

Support local!


And, keep writing.

Lucy Mills said...

This is wonderful! You write so beautifully and your descriptions are very evocative.

Oh, and I like Ratatouille, too!

Laura McCann said...

I love, love, love to visit the big cities with all their lights, and shows, and exquisite cuisines, and the extraordinary people, the dynamic building structures, the hustle, the bustle, the never-sleeping, always on the go, life that the big cities afford. It is a great getaway.
But when it comes to everyday living, I'll take my small town, slow paced, I-know-everybody-and-they-know-me lifestyle. Life is too fast paced as it is and in my small town it seems to move a little slower. I like it like that! Gives me more time for the important things in life.
Still, everybody needs to visit NYC at least once!

Oksana said...

Mm.. what a beautiful recollection. You know, I strongly dislike big cities ('hate' is a strong word, so I won't use it) but the way you described them really brought out a different side of the picture. It was really interesting to see a different spin on something that I'm so used to disliking... it reminds me to see the beauty in everything around me. Thanks for sharing this beautiful memory... your blog is so inspiring! :)

Jamimania said...

Abigail, you are the greatest! I love to read your stories, you display such imagery, I feel like I'm with you on these adventures. :) The Ratatouille comparison cracks me up. That movie was fantastic! Loved it.

I should tell you... I've been to downtown Chicago. There is something dreamy and romantic about it,no doubt, but I'd have to agree with your mom, it's not the place to raise babies. The cab drivers there are insane! I seriously closed my eyes so I wouldn't "see us" die. I was sure our ride would end in disaster. ha ha. It cost us $34.00 to get from the airport to our hotel in downtown. We walked what's known as the Miracle Mile - ya know the "good" street for shopping - clearly where the rich people go, because I couldn't afford anything there! ha ha. So that part wasn't fun. But I did go into Bloomingdales and picked up a few affordable souveniers. We also went to the Oprah Show and sat in the audience, went to HardRock Cafe, Planet Hollywood, and Michael Jordan's restaurant. It was a blast. Though the atmosphere was admittedly glamorous... I think the city is a place to enjoy on occasion rather than for everyday living. Honestly, I think the traffic and the busy people would make me crazy, having grown up in rural Kansas. :) I hope you get to experience the city one day. Hey... here's an idea - we could take a girls trip to New York together. Ciara can't quit talking about visiting the big city and I wanna see a broadway show. ROAD TRIP!! :D

Nutty Mom said...

You are such a great writer, so vivid and descriptive! Thanks for sharing

Caleb Howell said...

your vocabulary is so impressive--it stuns me everytime that you write another post. i also like how you built the story up before you actually told us about the plaza, it kept things simple and easy to understand.


Anonymous said...


I had forgotten that you took that trip to Kansas City with your dad. It was fun to hear you describe your feelings. That is a nice memory for you.

I love your excitement and love of life! From your eyes I see things differently,...(when you write).

I am a worry wart Grandma and would never want you to be in a big city on your own,...but in the safety of your dad's company it is fine! (:>

When I was young I wanted to be a flight attendant,...but now I hate to fly. So, I guess we never know until we experience things if they are right for us.

I would never want to squelch your enthusiam though, because I love that about you.

Always and Forever,...Your Grandma Linda

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