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New York City

Destination Wedding, North America

A Junior Prom Adventure turns into a Lifetime of Love: NYC Wedding

April 5, 2016 • By

It’s a beautiful spring afternoon; the beauty salons are bustling with anxious young women and excited mothers. Friends advise, “wear your hair up or I like it down.” The salon reeks of fragrant flowers with a hint of alcohol, aerosol bottles of hairspray empty quickly and bobby pins fall to the floor. The prom is many hours later but the limo arrives at 4:00 PM for pictures.  There isn’t a moment to waste.

For Marla and Paul, it’s 1989. Marla is dressed in a powdered blue, calf length, strapless stunner and Paul is donning a stylish, black Italian custom cut (rented) tux with matching powder blue bowtie and cummerbund. She is radiant and confident; he is handsome in a sheepish kind of way. Think Debbie Gibson meets Jon Bon Jovi.

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Marla and Paul, Jonathan Dayton HS, New Jersey – Junior Prom

The charming couple connected in a high school class at Jonathan Dayton High School in Springfield, New Jersey. Marla being the temptress invited her older classmate Paul to the Junior Prom. He left for college months later and as Marla stated, “He implied, see you later.”

Since life reminds us to be present and look forward, Marla and Paul simply parted their respective ways attending college, studying abroad, moving from apartment to apartment, city to city until the evolution of Facebook. This time Paul took the bold initiative and requested Marla as his Facebook friend.

It would be almost a year before they would meet in person in Florida, where Paul lived.  He nearly missed his chance ditching Marla on their first attempted date due to being exhausted from work.  An excuse Marla accepted thankfully.  A day later on a bright and sunny Sunday afternoon, the couple reunited.  Moments before a pigeon expelled itself on Marla, which she took as a positive sign because Paul and Marla have been laughing for the last six years.

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Under the Chuppah at City Winery. No nerves for these love birds

Marla and Paul married on a magical fall evening in New York City. The day delivered overcast skies, drizzle and blustering winds but the electricity inside City Winery suited Marla, Paul and their 140 guests just fine.

A wedding in New York City made the ideal location for Marla and Paul. They gathered family, friends and colleagues from as nearby as Greenwich Village and as far away as Indonesia.

Why choose City Winery? Marla said, “It optimized who we are and encapsulated our love of music, food and wine downtown in the city.”

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City Winery before the wedding ceremony

Being of Jewish faith, Marla and Paul celebrated their marriage ceremony with their parents at their side under the Chuppah (canopy) and a very cool modern, female rabbi served as the celebrant.   The Ketubah (marriage contract) perfectly placed next to the happy couple symbolized their commitment to each other. Paul smashed the glass and guests shouted Mazel Tov!

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This prom dress 27 years later. Impressed it fits!

City Winery transformed into an elegant setting for Paul and Marla’s wedding. Guests devoured incredible cheeses and Mediterranean spreads, sipped and later slurped wine in the Barrel Room and enjoyed a seated dinner with pumpkin ravioli and fish entrees. The Greg Buford Band busted jams and people piled on the dance floor partying like it was 1989.

From young love and a special spring dance to a fabulous night on October 4, 2015, Marla traded her corsage for the bouquet.  Jonathan Dayton High School had it right all along, “It was meant to be” and Marla still has the baby blue prom dress to prove it (and it fits)!


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The bride and ME at City Winery, NYC

Marla and Paul traveled to Italy on their honeymoon visiting the Puglia Region and Rome.  Italy holds a very special place in Marla’s heart since she studied abroad in Florence and later lived there for a year.  She wanted Paul to experience the allure of sweet tomatoes, tart lemons, flavorful olive oil, freshly caught fish and beautiful, welcoming countryside.  They drank wine, lots of it, dined on local favorites and tracked the mileage of their new life together exploring Italy with happy hearts and eternal smiles.

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Now the fun part, the honeymoon! Paul and Marla in Italy

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An Italian Panini is the best but a Honeymoon in Italy is better

North America

Life on the 6 Train

February 17, 2016 • By

By definition, the word travel means to make a journey through a region or to be moved from place to place. It doesn’t necessarily mean abroad, while a foreign land would be an added perk. According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the New York Subway systems carries 8.7 million people everyday.  It moves people–lots of them. It’s an astounding statistic. I am a New York City Subway rider. I am a number on the 6 Train.

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Gates, exits, uptown, downtown, east side, west side, taking the train to work

Every morning I am in New York City, I ride the east side green line 6 Train. It’s a routine. Leave my apartment by 7:20 AM, slide my card, shimmy through the turnstile, see the train, bolt down the stairs or wait patiently along the platform edge, hop the subway, ride for 25 minutes without interruptions, arrive at 14th Street/Union Square Station, buy my Starbucks. That’s a good day.

“This is a Brooklyn Bound 6 Train, the next stop is…”

I’ve taken to nicknaming my fellow riders. There is the professional, religious zealot, the student, mom and dad, the girlfriend, the boyfriend, an exerciser, the reader, a mobile phone/tablet game addict, the worker bee, the coffee drinker, the loud talker, the deafening headset listener, a sleeper, a pusher, the local, the foreigner, the performer, and sadly the sick person and what that implies.

Rats scurry below the platform. When the train approaches, an ear piercing rrrrrrr screeching sound sometimes causes me to cover my ears. The noise dissipates and the doors open. Passengers exit and passengers enter. The wheels start to turn and inside I make believe an old-fashioned steam engine is puffing along until I hear the dreaded voice over the intercom. It’s muffled. Passengers struggle to listen but most of us ignore it. Announcements are never positive. We are thanked for our patience.

I eavesdrop on two young men about 30-years-old dressed in scruffy business suits. They work for the Governor of New York. They are in heated conversation about a rebranding effort in Buffalo. They offer me a seat but I am too absorbed in their conversation to pivot from my perch to take THEIR seat. One young gun says to the other, “It’s a process right. It takes months or even years to form a relationship with a reporter.”  They are ambitious and I like them.  They offered a woman their seat, a rare occurrence aboard a New York City Subway.

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Stand back, get ready, the anticipation

It’s 8:50 AM on a Wednesday. I’ve missed the window of opportunity for a hassle free commute. It’s no man’s land. Time to toughen up my belt for the boxing match that will ensue in my attempt to find space for a 5’6, 130-pound (58 kilos) woman with a 20 pound (9 kilos) over the shoulder bag wearing a ankle length winter coat. The first train arrives and there is no chance for me. I can’t squeeze onto the second train either but I am assured another train is minutes behind this one. The third train arrives and I brace myself for the fight. I inhale and like an Olympian athlete thrust myself through the doors and into or maybe even onto the maddening crowd.

“Sorry, So Sorry, S–o–r–r–y, excuse me” words most spoken by New York City Subway riders.

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Courtesy Counts. The MTA posts these signs to remind passengers they are humans and not animals a small distinction on the subway

The doors of a subway are like the jaws of a crocodile, when I step from the platform edge into the metal moving box I never know if I am going to be eaten alive or if I will escape free of injury. We are packed shoulder to shoulder nose to nose. Sweat forms on my forehead and my body screams for air. It’s not worth removing my hat or gloves because I cannot move. My fellow New Yorkers are holding me into place, which is a good thing. Signs overhead remind us that Courtesy Matters yet we are animals, hunting our prey, a handrail or a seat, pushing, shoving every morning and night.

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Let me squeeze in please

The train slows before the next stop and then abruptly halts tossing the standing passengers into the arms of strangers. People fortunate to steal a seat would not dare look upon other passengers in fear of shame. Embarrassed today he or she got lucky as the rest of us are manhandled like a game of Tic-Tac-Toe. There is an incident ahead and so it goes we wait and people groan. It seems impossible to remain on schedule aboard the 6 Train.

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A man at 68th Street station plays music in the morning hours

Alas, my journey ends at 14th Street to the sounds of Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond. The subway musicians at Union Square Station are my favorite performing quality music throughout the day. Sometimes their performances can ease the pain of a horrible commute. (Check out Music Under New York

Another afternoon, a 26-year-old Pakistani woman is hovered over me. I am sitting and she standing swaying as the train moves.  She holds the above handrail to steady herself. It’s possible she could fall onto my lap. We study each other and she asks what I am writing. I tell her I am working on my to do list. I lied. She volunteers that she is reading Harry Potter and a book for her driving test. She speaks three languages and divulges she really isn’t sure of her age because of the way they create documents in Pakistan but she is a New Yorker now.  She asks my name. I say, “Kelly.” She is intrigued and wants to know the meaning and I respond, “It means bold in Irish.” “Oh,” she says, “Do you speak Irish?” I giggle a bit, “A little.”  We talk for several minutes but I never ask for her name. I assume she would have provided if she wished. I hear the piped in voice, “the next stop is 68th Street Hunter College,” and I stand up, greet my friend with a goodbye and good luck and dash out the doors.

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All aboard the 6 Train at the 68th Street /Hunter College

It’s Friday. I decide to leave the office later to avoid the 5:00 PM crowds. It’s quiet for a Friday and I secure a seat. My iPhone is dead. I read the advertisements in Spanish and English mostly about health and education.  A man in his 30s boards the train. I eye him skeptically. He is sprouting words and phrases from some sort of religious book and I decipher every other world, “Satan!” “Damned” and I can’t help myself. I look up. We lock eyes and he says, “You don’t see him but he’s here.” The doors open at the next stop and like a mirage he is gone.

I am left to listen to the sounds from above making the last leg of my journey home feel painfully long.

Please step aside and let the passengers off the train

Step all the way in please

Stand clear of the closing doors


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Let me out of here. I want to go home