The day did not begin according to schedule. I boarded a 6 a.m. Southwest Airlines flight from Milwaukee to New York, a half hour before my wife, Mira, got on an AirTran plan from Atlanta to meet me at the same place. Poor visibility caused LaGuardia Airport to shut down while both planes were in the air, so my flight was diverted to Baltimore while hers had to refuel in Richmond. We ended up reuniting in Gotham four hours later than planned.
That's right – Gotham! As I tell Mira, a native of Brooklyn, all the time, "New York is a great place to visit. It's just that I had to visit seven damn straight years." An editor once told me that every journalists should work in New York or Los Angeles at some point in his or her career. After getting to work at Newsday – covering everything from the 9/11 terrorists attacks to City Hall and police on weekends to criminal courts in Queens – I agree. No time now to list here all the reasons it was time to go, but let's just say it's a lot easier living in Chicago, Milwaukee or Atlanta.
Anyway, we're spending my 50th birthday in New York because I'm presenting at the College Media Association's Spring College Media Convention at the Sheraton Times Square Hotel. Mira and I first met in the hotel's presidential suite on Dec. 7, 1997 – the day my life changed forever – after the New York Association of Black Journalists' annual awards and scholarship dinner. We're going to see the premiere of "Motown: The Musical" on Broadway on Monday. I had hoped to see the Marquette University men's basketball team play in the Big East Championship at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. Alas, #mubb won't play until Thursday, hours after we leave New York.
As for today, however, more than 250 people – including friends from high school and college, colleagues from my many workplaces, friends from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and my students at Marquette – wished me "Happy Birthday" via Facebook. I always say birthday wishes are the best reason to be on Facebook. The day ended with three friends joining me and Mira for dinner at the Sea Grille Restaurant at Rockefeller Center.
We enjoyed watching the ice skaters circle the famous rink outside our window. Most of them moved with trepidation, with more than a few holding the rail all the way around so not to fall. A few sped quickly and with assurance. One man, especially, moved along carefree, dancing even as he chatted with strangers, as if nothing or no one could bother him. As I start my second half century – yes, my sister and an longtime friend both reminded me today that I have lived one already – my hope is to keep living with the same ease and joy for life. God willing.