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Credit: 
Linda Nylind for The Guardian
Hadley Freeman

When I was nine years old and still living in New York, my mother decided to fill the long summer holiday by taking me and little sister around our hometown which we took so much for granted, pretending we were visitors. She endured the hoardes of tourists, and New York's sticky summer temperatures, to entertain us as she took us up and down the island, from Columbia University, to the Empire State Building, to Battery Park. (I don't remember us ever leaving Manhattan that summer or, indeed, ever during my childhood. Some things were just too much even for my parents.) But the excursion I remember most is when we went to the Statue of Liberty. Living uptown, I'd never even seen the Statue of Liberty when we boarded the ferry and, to be honest, I wasn't all that impressed. The boat ride made me seasick (pretty much everything made me motion sick back then) and the rickety climb inside the green statue, on a winding staircase that felt tiny even to me back then, while Spanish tourists kept kicking me from behind in their excitement, still haunts my nightmares. But when we finally reached the top, it was wonderful. My mother picked us up so we could see through the windows of the statue's crown and we saw for the first time how our city looked, sparkling in the August sun, enormous, varied, magical. Liberty.

 

Hadley Freeman was born in New York and is a staff writer at The Guardian newspaper. Her second book, Be Awesome, was published by 4th Estate in May 2013. She lives in London. 

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