New York The Ciriza Way

Mike’s view from the Empire State Building

Our first trip to the Big Apple was in the early 80’s. As soon as we exited the taxi, there in broad daylight was a dead body in front of the entrance to our hotel. The police had just arrived and were investigating the matter. Before the man’s body was completely covered with a white sheet, I could not take my eyes off deceased person. To the New Yorkers, this was just another day and business as usual; no one seemed to really be overly concerned. This left a hard impression on me and it was difficult to shake off.

Mike and I settled in our room and could not wait to explore the sights. Not 10 minutes in our walk did we witness a crime. An attractive, well- dressed black woman grabbed a handbag from an innocent bystander and ran away with the purse in tow. Mike just looked at me and we both changed our direction. It was not that we did not want to get involved, it was that we were afraid. It did not take long to pick up the spirit of the detached New Yorkers.

We walked for miles until we finally reached Bloomingdale’s . This store is the original iconic heart of shopping in Manhattan, and all I  wanted was to be carrying a small, medium or large brown bag from Bloomingdale’s. Mike gave me a time to shop and told me to meet him at trendy restaurant called “Yellowfinger.” He pointed to the eatery, but I was too caught up in the overwhelming sights and sounds of my newly  discovered best friend Bloomingdale’s, so I was not paying attention. I wanted to experience every inch of Bloomingdale’s. I was about ready to try on some clothes when an older sophisticated sales clerk looked at me and said, “Honey, do you want to get mugged?”  “No,” I quickly answered. Then she took my handbag and gave me a tutorial on how to carry my purse. “Keep it in front of you at all times and whatever you do, not look up.” I still carry my handbag like this today.


It was time for me to meet Mike, but I came out another door on another avenue. No cell phones yet, so I reverted to panic. There are way too many exits to Bloomingdales and I was lost. I did not serve the Lord the with such fervor, so prayer was not even an afterthought. I did what came natural, cried and got really upset with Mike. After about an hour I finally made it to Yellowfingers. Poor Mike was so worried about my whereabouts, but I still have him and earful. I suffered from PMS back then (premenstrual symdome) but Mike referred to it as (pissed-off-at-Mike syndrome).


It was in 1985 when we took Mikos and Sonja to New York for the first time. It was summertime. Mikos was about to enter junior high and Sonja was 9 years-old. Mikos was going through braces and in the stage of too cool to be seen with his parents.  I made an appointment for him to have his braces tightened the day before the trip. For the first few days it was as if I had intentionally asked the orthodontist to make the braces extra tight, and  Mikos held me accountable because he could not eat due the brackets being too constricting. I’d look at him and  just roll my eyes; through most of his adolescence that was my reaction, my voice being mostly in a screaming mode during these formative year but this helped with Mikos be becoming a fine young man.

Belle France Boutique

I heard of this boutique  “Belle France” on the chic side of town that I wanted to visit. The front door were kept locked so you needed to be buzzed in. This was a stuffy store with sales people trained in snobbery. We walked in and my eyes gravitated toward the sale rack. Mike was helping me pick out  dresses, then I picked a dress with a white collar that was two sizes too small. Why? I still don’t know, perhaps I was trying to impress my husband. I had a handful of dresses to try on, the dressing room was an ample size, and the full-length antique mirror added to the charm of the store, so I was happy.  I tried on the white collared dress and something went terribly wrong. I got stuck. I was hyperventilating and did my best to free my arms, but the dress was more like a straitjacket. My arms were contricted and any move would cause the dress to rip.  In the meantime the sales lady kept asking me to come out; Mike too was adding to this already stressful situation. I could not breathe and thought this was a terrible and embarrassing way to die. When I opened my eyes the white collar was all I could see, and  I felt as if it was strangling me. This struggle had lasted several minutes when I finally called for Sonja to come into the dressing room. At first she laughed at the sight, but I explained that I could not breathe. In Sonja’s words, ” Mommy this happens to my Barbie Dolls all the time; you just need to put your arms straight up and I will pull it off.” Out of the mouth of babes, what wisdom, she was right and I was freed from the white-collared dress.  By the time I was done,  I looked more like I had a wrestling match, because my hair was a mess and my face was flushed red. I developed a phobia for any white-collared clothing, and I get claustrophobic in dressing rooms. I did purchase a dress that day, but not one with a white collar.

Battery Park

From Battery Park, we could see the beautiful Twin Towers proudly displaying their grandeur. Who would ever in a million years have thought that one day these beautiful skyscrapers would be so violently  taken down? I had forgotten about this photograph; it is sad to think that my grandchildren will never experience this breathtaking view.

We did all the tourist stuff like a carriage ride through Central Park, a boat ride to the Statue of Liberty and a purchase of a Cabbage Patch Doll for Sonja, and we also attended a Mets game. Washington D.C. was our next stop.

Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

I’m still evolving; thank God for that!

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