“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Emma Lazurus’ “New Colossus” sonnet is inscribed in bronze within the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. When we arrived at Liberty State Park, the one o’clock ferry sounded its horn, signaling its departure. This was okay, for we waited twenty minutes for the next one while enjoying our chicken caesar wraps from Fairmount Eats in Hackensack. It was a gorgeously clear day to be tourists. The breeze from the water was refreshing and we basked in the warmth of the sun while failing at several attempts to capture the icon of freedom in the background of our selfies. And, finally – success. Well, sort of.

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We stopped for some ice cream at the Crown Cafe. Substitute the beers and, well, all identifying aspects of the infamous Corona beach commercials, and you have our Empire State commercial; duel chocolate-vanilla-swirls overlooking the Hudson River.

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Pedestal Access tickets in hand, we headed towards the entrance. $5.00 later, we entered the lobby with Brian’s worst nightmare: two green, foam crowns which would undoubtedly result in a photo opportunity at some point. A gasp echoed through the lobby as Brian held his breath. A park ranger welcomed us into the elevator leading up the pedestal and, once we arrived, the views overlooking Manhattan were breathtaking.

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We strapped on our foam hats and, after chuckling at the sight of how ridiculous we look, I asked a passerby to capture the moment with a photograph. To be clear, I said to her,”Please hurry. I’m surprised he’s even doing this at all, so we don’t have too much time.” This one is for you, Mrs. McCue.

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It was time for the descent: two hundred and fifteen steps back to the base.

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We shared stories and many more laughs before leaving the island. After thirty one years, I can finally associate the Statute of Liberty with a personal memory instead of with the recollection of the animated figure from the 1989 Ghostbusters II. My calves burned the next day similarly to the memories created which will continue to burn far after the pain in my legs have faded. Until next time, New York.

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