The drive to Smithton PA to meet KatieKat was pretty awesome. I had plenty of time, I even managed to stop at an Aldis and obtain supplies for the trip (trail mix, anyone?). I drove through the straight flat part of Ohio and then all of the hills and valleys as I moved closer to West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
I made it to the Flying J in Smithton where I had a delicious egg white veggie omelette with fruit. Yes, I’m on vacation to NYC and sticking to my food plan. I’m going to stay healthy until after my 5k and then I will allow myself a NY bagel. Otherwise, I was planning to stay on healthy carbs only…..and I did, thank you very much scale at KatieKat’s sister’s house. Lucky that object was there to taunt me daily…..oh and yes I broke my vow with myself not to weigh in 2013. I needed an intervention. I’m even counting calories and tracking every minute of training now….but I digress, rambling and running on tangents as usual. KatieKat was there at the gas pump looking all blond and sexified…..as usual, for the record. So we reconnected, bought some water and quickly hit the road for Island Park, Long Island NY. A lifelong dream realized.
It was a silly, dark, long drive. But we made it. We caught up. We had girl time, we laughed, we ate, we talked. It was a good time to understand what cannot be clearly communicated in text. The whole trip, her Mom and sister called all the time. I know it drove her insane, but the sister calls were caring. I was envious of the love there, even with the judgement that sometimes accompanied it. The Mom calls I get were more selfish in nature, I wasn’t fooled. I know how that rolls. But the description from her sister of walking up and down the Vegas strip trying to find the perfect thing for Kat, well, that was sweet. I saw parts of my friend’s life I couldn’t have seen otherwise. Her sister and brother-in-law were so sweet, generous, kind to me. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer place to stay. Kat made me take the bed, she slept on the air mattress. Yes, that was sooooo appreciated.
At this point I’m sure you’re wondering why it has taken me this long to finish the blog about a trip that ended on June 24. Why am I struggling so much with talking about a vacation? I’m not sure I even know the answer. Maybe it’s because I felt acutely free in NYC, free to see exactly what I wanted and eat where I wanted for days in a culinary wonderland, maybe it’s because though I loved the freedom, I longed more than anything to be shackled to some man with whom I would have to negotiate food choices and stops and order and which way to walk down the street or which subway train to take, or maybe it is because I missed my children acutely and many times I day I took pictures because I couldn’t wait to share them with my kids, who were at home missing me too. I’m sure it’s all of those reasons because let’s face it, I’m complicated and there’s never just one answer.
A word about my hosts….gracious, amazing loving people. Kat was selfless and loving and wonderful, really. It was the best vacation I’ve had without my kids since I left my husband 3.5 years ago. It was great, and they were a huge part of that. HUGE people. Just huge. I can attach a million pictures of NYC but the fact is…..these are the pics that shows it. Kat only had one night and one day she could go out, and she spent those with me. Me. Gave me all of it. Not to her sister……to me. I recognize and appreciate that gift. I love her, and I wouldn’t have been in NYC without her. It was supposed to be my escape from relationship pain and it became a trip that meant so much more.
Me and Kat on the Staten Island Ferry, returning to Manhattan. Best pic 🙂
There’s so much to tell about what I saw, what it felt like, what it looked like. I do not know where to start and if my bloody iphone battery weren’t so horrid I could have blogged as I went. But in retrospect there are moments that stood out. Like the 9/11 Memorial. Kat was even more affected than myself. It was painful, sad. The Staten Island Ferry was before then, so it was joyful, fun. Then we went to Chinatown which was so dirty and busy and smelly and so not what I expected. Great place to shop and buy junk though. I went crazy for the kiddos both times I was there. My first glimpse of Times Square was with Kat and it was getting dark. My jaw dropped and I knew I needed hours to hang out there the next day. It’s sensory overload but wow…….these are the highlights of my first day.
Day 2. I was scared. I kept pep talking myself that I could tour NYC alone, including the train to and from Island Park Long Island to Penn Station, and all around the city. I planned to see the Empire State Building, Central Park, and hours and hours in Times Square. I didn’t get lost once. Not once. I made it all around the city and I took train after train, walked block after block after block until at times I was nearly delirious despite trying to stay hydrated and fed. I carried water and trail mix but still…….I had many weak moments in the heat of the city. I survived them all, though, obviously. The only real downside to this day were the three times people reminded me that I shouldn’t be alone because I was too beautiful to be alone….WTF, I mean, really, WTF is that.
Day 3 was the race at Long Beach. Everyone stared at me. I’ve never felt so conspicuous at a race. It was a very small, community race, the Sean Ryan 9th Annual Memorial; he was a police officer who died of cancer. It was a joyous and somber event I think, and I really felt out of place. I was slow, Asthma Girl as usual on a very HOT 80 degree morning (why oh why?) and I knew I would struggle. I asked someone to take my picture, explained it was my pre-race ritual and they looked at me like I was insane but a girl did it anyway.
While I was in line for the bathroom, there was a woman struggling who had been in a stall for ages, and when I was told that, I whispered back, “Oh, poor thing” and the woman replied, you are too sweet. I replied with what Kat had told me….”Oh, my Ohio is showing again.” She said don’t ever lose that……..and I can say many days later, that I won’t. I will stay sweet. Compassionate. Kind. Nice to strangers. I will say please and thank you. I will cry like I did when Sean Ryan’s children and wife took the stage to give out awards. It’s who I am. I am Ohio. Since my return, I’ve happily embraced it. Ohio, that’s me. Super K from Ohio.
As usual, I suffered from some heat exhaustion, and it didn’t hit me until about two hours afterward. But I ate what I could, I drank fluids, I tried to recover. I had to take this huge stupid nap and missed the rest of the day I could have been at the beach. But since with two days in NYC and the race had depleted me, I stayed in. Sucks but it’s my body, I don’t want to kill it on vacation, or end up in the ER. That evening Kat and I went out, so I had that fun at Pops, the crazy sandy beach bar restaurant place. Fire pits were awesome, it was super cold and I wished I had a sweatshirt and flip flops, but I was in a dress, and my Ohio was showing oh so badly (many girls were in dresses but it’s a better story that way).
Ok….so now I have my last day in NYC and I had to plan what I would do. I debated over the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET for short) or MoMA the Museum of Modern Art. MoMA had VanGogh and Monet. Sold! I managed to use my student ID (score) so that was my first stop for the day, and here are a couple of beautiful pics…..
So those were masterpieces. And then there is the concept of modern art. And that, my friends, in my not esteemed opinion, is backwash. Crap. Garbage. Mess. Not art. Here’s some of what I mean, and I apologize to Jackson Pollock fans because it’s not garbage or mess but I swear my five year-old makes the same stuff on our kitchen floor.
After MoMA I was tired but refused to be tired….it was really, really hot that day. I went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, it was under incredible construction, and then I walked to Rockefeller Center, through the NBC building, to Radio City Music Hall, got sick, drank a protein shake, felt worse….kept walking, went to St. Patrick’s to hear part of mass, then finally went back to Chinatown to shop while dehydrated and to Little Italy to hydrate and eat. I drank an entire liter of sparkling water, ate melon and prosciutto and clams….heaven.
Eventually….I was worn out. I did NYC so thoroughly I felt like I couldn’t move any further. I was praying we would make it to the beach before I left. And………so I said farewell to NYC subway to head back to Island Park, Long Island for the last time.
Ok. So that night………the beach. I should wax poetic about what it looked like and felt like, because it was poetic. The sky was darkening….we had Starbucks and I had a sweatshirt on and I got into the water to play….because I could. It was so beautiful, oh so unbelievably gorgeous to watch the sun set and moon rise…the cycle, symbolic of life, which continues so relentlessly, even when we desperately wish for it to slow down and tick by not so quickly.
We went home…me chattering nonstop about how soon we needed to leave in the morning to head home, did Kat want to go to the beach before we left, did we want to eat breakfast first…..like a little kid. Often I reminded myself of my own daughter, and I missed her chatter all the time. I missed my son’s chatter and questions also….as I neared the end I just felt guilty that my babies didn’t make it to the beach. I packed up that night. In the morning we were waiting for Kat’s sister going crazy so we could go to breakfast and the beach…..had our first good omelettes. They SUCK at omelettes in NYC, they’re better in Ohio. HAH!
The beach, in the morning, Hempstead Beach….almost made me cry. Cry for missing my kids, cry for joy of the sand between my toes, the ocean rushing over my body. It was…….ecstasy. Better than sex….yep, the beach, for the Ohio girl….better than sex. I’ve never had sex on the beach………it’s on my bucket list, for sure. (sorry if anyone young is reading).
Now for the sad part. We head home. It rains. We miss an exit and end up headed east again. Drive through Philadelphia. Have a new joke. Yep, that’s an aquarium…in a deadpan, scary Daria voice that should never come from the ebullient AGR. I wish I loved Phillly but I love Pittsburgh, so nope, I cannot. I wish I loved the long drive home but it made me pretty exhausted. It took 15 hours to get home. It was like the worst jet lag ever of my life…..seriously.
I miss NYC. And this has taken forever to write. And I miss it. The stinky milk smells in the street, the underarm odor, the people touching and brushing and bumping, fighting for entrance to the subway and the Long Island Railroad trains….I miss the tall buildings. The heat rising off the sidewalk. The people and their crazy, brash personalities. I miss being somewhere that my Ohio shows. I’ve come to appreciate so many things about Dayton but I miss the insanity. I want something between Dayton and NYC. Maybe Chicago, I’ve been there, or Seattle? I miss the big city. I always knew I would love NYC and my experience only reinforced all it has to offer. I know I don’t want to live there, I’m not delusional. These apartment buildings, endless miles of them convinced me.
I conquered NYC as much as I could in the time I had……..it’s inside me now and I cannot wait to take my children back with me. We will visit the Bronx Zoo, Grant’s Tomb, and the 9/11 memorial because my daughter was born that year and she feels that inside of her, even though she was 8 months old, because she’s seen the images her whole life. We will visit Times Square and I will have them tethered or something……it’s rather insane for a parent there. I will take them to the peace of Little Italy, so quiet and calm, and so pretty. I will show them how to ride the subway and how to hold on for dear life….how to survive in the big city with bottles of water and Gatorade. I hope to return in two years time, life permitting. I love New York.