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Greetings from New York - Kathy Jefcoats

Well, I made it. I completed my first airplane ride, from Atlanta to NYC, Saturday and am now sitting in the business center of the hotel where I am staying in New York. I am on Long Island so I take the train n Long Island Railroad n into the "the city," Manhattan. I will be here all week and will return back to work Monday. But I am not thinking of that right now. I am in the city I love and having a ball.

The plane ride was not as pleasant as my friend would have me believe. Oh, did I mention I am with my best friend, Claudia? She is from Long Island, Glen Cove to be exact, and we flew up together. She is a world traveler but I had never flown before Saturday. I am afraid of heights and definitely afraid of traveling when I have no control over the circumstances. She let me sit by the window but I think that made it worse. My stomach dropped when we took off and landing wasn't fun either. We hit turbulence, she thinks, around North Carolina, and I wasn't happy with the jostling and trembling that went on. The plane shaking didn't help either.

We went into the city Sunday and shopped of course. I bought my first cashmere sweater. It is so soft and pretty. We stood in line to buy half price tickets to see "Chicago," which was a good show, if you haven't seen it yet. I was not familiar with the storyline, not having seen the movie, but it was OK. I didn't know how much I would enjoy the choreography, all that synchronicity was amazing.

After the show we went to the Stage Deli, which is a local landmark, and got a mile high sandwich named for Matthew Broderick. I had my first egg cream and first taste of corned beef and pastrami. They brought us not bread but four different kinds of pickles when we first sat down. Weird but good.

We window shopped and looked at everything around us. NYC is an amazing place. There is literally something to do around every few feet and the street vendors are everywhere, hawking knock-off designer handbags and $10 cashmere scarves that Claudia said feels more like flannel so I didn't buy one. People everywhere. The noise, the sights, the activity n I just thrive on that. And I can get around better in NYC than I have ever been able to in Atlanta and I have been in Georgia most of my life.

Of course, this is my second trip here so I knew what to expect. My first trip was in April after Sept. 11. The whole mood of the city was somber but hopeful. I don't feel the solemnity this time but there is still a definite pall over some areas.

The strangest thing for me about coming to NY is feeling like I belong here. It was weird in April to be coming home to a place I've never been before, as John Denver once sang. Now it feels even more familiar but can't figure out why.

Plans for the rest of the week include returning to the city and doing all the things I missed the first time around. I do have a list, culled from several travel books about the city, filled with reminders of what I didn't do in April 2002. Museums, shops, restaurants, sights I don't want to miss this time. I have a camera to record it all, just like the first time, and will probably relive it over and over in my mind whenever I am having a bad day.

The hotel where I am staying is fantastic. I am not a seasoned traveler but I have stayed in quite a few motel/hotel rooms because my husband sometimes travels for his business. This is by far the nicest and if you are ever in Plainview, Long Island, N.Y., I would recommend staying here. It becomes the Four Points Sheraton next year. Free breakfast is included every morning, which helps save more money for shopping.

I guess I should let my readers know, too, that the week I come back will be my last week at the Daily Herald. On Nov. 8, I start a new and exciting adventure with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a reporter in the Clayton/Henry office, still covering cops and some court. I am happy and excited about the change since I get to stay in my beloved profession and focus on my chosen field of reporting, criminal justice. I minored in the subject in college and am happiest when I can talk or write about it, study it, dissect it, be involved in it.

I have one more column to go before I leave so I guess I will wrap up things one final time then, not to get all sentimental this week.

Kathy Jefcoats covers public safety in Henry County. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or by e-mail at kjefcoats@henryherald.com .