Go ahead. Call me a bad mother. Back in 2019, I watched every single episode of The Bachelorette with my 15-year-old daughter. I knew it was wrong. I tried my best to spin the trashy situations into cautionary tales, but those Tuesday nights were probably not my best parenting moments. Our favorite contender? Tyler Cameron. We never dreamed we would see him in person.
At first, I thought it was a mirage. I blamed the August heat coming off the New York City streets. Surely, it couldn’t be him.
It was check-in day for my daughter’s summer program at Fordham University. We were rolling suitcases and toting bags down Columbus Avenue, making our way to the Lincoln Center Satellite Campus, when it happened.
“That’s Tyler, from The Bachelorette,” I said. My daughter was skeptical. She waited until the man with shoulders wider than our biggest piece of luggage walked passed us before she dropped her bags and took off after him. I got left behind with the mountain of luggage as they chatted and took selfies. According to my child, he was nice as could be and even better looking in person. We cropped and captioned, and within minutes, all our friends knew we had bumped into Bachelorette’s best.
Our encounter with Tyler reminded me of the first time I travelled to New York City when I was 16. My mother and I were walking down Broadway when I saw Dustin Hoffman heading our way. I got my camera ready and took the first shot. Back in those days, a roll of film had limited exposures, so my first shot was my only shot. I hoped it was a good one, but it would be a while before I would know. I had to wait until I got back home. I had to drive to Sumter, S.C., because nowhere developed film in my hometown. I had to wait for the pictures to be mailed back to me. I had to wait until we were back in school to show my treasure to my friends. That was a lot of waiting for a young girl.
Between my first visit to New York City in 1982 and the last one in 2019, the technology changed dramatically, but the experiences were basically the same. Two teenaged girls on an adventure with their mothers. Two celebrity sightings. Two sets of happy memories.
2020 changed everything. We never dreamed our August 2019 trip would be the last one for a while. Corona shut down our beloved city. No summer program for my daughter in 2020. No New York City this fall break. No ice skating in Rockefeller Center under the Christmas tree. Not this year. Maybe next?
My daughter keeps asking me how long before we can plan another NYC getaway. I tell her we just have to wait and see. I feel a little bit like that teenaged girl who had to wait to get the envelope of photos in the mail. Waiting.
Corona has shown us how quickly it all can change, how quickly it can all be snatched from us. Corona can cancel our travel plans, but it can’t erase our memories. Thank goodness nothing can rob us of those.
When we do get the chance to take a trip and make new memories, I will make sure to treasure each one. Who knows who we might bump into on our next big adventure? On the streets of New York City, anything is possible.
Tammy Davis is a teacher and writer based in Columbia, S. C. Her new book, Back Porch Stories, is available on Amazon and Kindle. To have her stories e-mailed each week, subscribe at tammydavisstories.com.