The drive from Northern Virginia to Long Island (east of New York City) should be five to six hours. My younger daughter and I got onto the highway (495) at 4:22, after stopping at the store for essentials (aka junk food, but we did each get an apple, too), getting gas and returning a book to the library. The easy, breezy longish trip that should have gotten us into my brother’s house at around nine ended up becoming a trip to see how long we could be delayed in traffic in Maryland and Delaware. Delaware may be one of the smallest states in the Union but it sure didn’t feel that way as the hours ticked by. But we were both in good moods the entire time. This proved that, indeed, the journey is the key part of a trip. Or, if you’re going to get stuck in traffic don’t go with your extremely impatient child. We didn’t rouse my brother from his slumber on his LaZBoy until 1:30.
On Saturday I took my daughter to her camp friend’s Bat Mitzvah, and then I was independent until Sunday morning since the invite ended up including much hang-out time, including a sleepover at a hotel after the big party at a country club.
I was off to Manhattan to meet a friend. The rain cleared for what would be a glorious spring day. I was in the mood to walk (as I always am when I am in Manhattan). So I walked from Penn Station at 34th Street and 7th Avenue to 54th and Fifth Avenue where we were to meet, in front of Tiffany’s. While I waited for her I watched as countless tourists took pictures in front of the Trump building or the Tiffany’s sign, while others came out of Tiffany’s with their little TIffany blue bags. Me, I leaned against a planter and watched the river of people walk by.
As usual, I’m thinking that all or a part of my wardrobe is lacking. So while I’m thinking that I should have waited to buy more attractive walking shoes my friend comes up and greets me, telling me how great I look and how my red jacket looks so nice. Her, I haven’t seen her for at least six months and I was surprised and saddened by how drawn and drained she looked. She’s been trying to find a job in New York for a while but has only managed to land temporary things here and there, and it seems that even temp jobs have completely dried up in New York.
We walked up Fifth Avenue on the Central Park side to the Metropolitan Museum. Instead of going in and looking at the artwork (which we did last time), she used the restroom and then we walked and talked our way across a very crowded Central Park. We were on the search for Thai or Chinese food, but we could find neither. We walked from the park to Amsterdam Avenue to Columbus Avenue and then down from 84th Street to 72nd Street to find a Chinese restaurant. Not only was I surprised by the lack of expected diversity of restaurants, I was surprised by how many closed stores there were; although, the pizza places seemed to still be intact.
After lunch I headed back to Penn Station. I should have taken the subway, but I was in push-yourself mode, so I walked back down to 34th Street. At one point I was glad that New York didn’t have the muggings it used to have, since I didn’t think that I would have the energy to fight someone off.
Luckily for me, the moment I got to the train station they announced the tracks that my train was located on and that it would be leaving in eleven minutes.
There was a very loud four-year-old boy in my section of the train car. Just as I was thinking of asking his parents to tell him to keep it down, I realized that it would be useless since the mother was equally loud. I mean I didn’t even have to strain to hear their conversation, it was as if pumped into my little corner of the car. Alas, the man with the Kindle in front of me was not held back; he asked them to keep the boy quiet. And then the New York experience occurred. Another man defended said boy and derided the quiet-seeker. Really. Two grown men started trading insults (“What do you do that you’re so sophisticated?” “If you have kids I feel sorry for them”). I quietly told the man that he was right but to just let it go.
The boy continued to be LOUD. The mother continued to be LOUD. When they stood waiting to get off at their station they looked at the quiet-seeker and made condescending looks at him, made comments to each other and then traded we’re-so-much-better-than-that-asshole looks to each other. Class. You just can’t teach it.
When I got off the train I hobbled to my car and called another friend to meet me for our diner dinner of booth talk. We agreed to meet where we met last time. Twenty-minutes later she called me to ask me where I was. “I’m sitting in the first booth,” I responded. I got up but didn’t see her. There is, of course, a valid reason why I didn’t see her and that is because she went to the wrong diner. So while she was driving over to where I was I recalled my senior moment of Friday night when I got back on the highway going south (as in back to Virginia) instead of north (as in to New York) after a bathroom break. At this age, or as we age, I’m assuming that it is key to have friends who are falling apart at the same rate you are so that it feels normal, and not that you are an anomaly.
The talk lasted for a few hours until the waiter got down on his knees and begged us to leave so that he would have more tips for the night so he could feed his starving family. Okay, maybe a nasty look and not on his knees, but he looked ready for that.
On this my second night of sleeping in a bed (my nephew’s) my body was getting comfortable stretching out and moving around, as opposed to twisting around on my love seat. Oh, how I long for a bed of my very own.
The next day was my birthday. My brother and his family took my daughter and me out for breakfast. It was lovely being amongst enough people at a table to have more than one conversation going.
When my daughter and I got into my car to continue our journey home she gave me my gift from her and her sister. It is a gift card for Aveda. But the card, the card says it all.
We hope you have a relaxing, stress-free, amazing birthday!
That’s spa treatment to this mother’s ears.
The drive home was smooth sailing the entire way; it took us five hours. It rained at the end of the drive with the sun peeking out between the clouds. I was hoping to see a rainbow, but none appeared.
When we got home younger daughter went to her BFF’s house; when she came home she told me to go look, there’s a rainbow in the sky. I went out and walked partway up the street in my bare feet because I had just painted my toenails hot pink looking for the rainbow. And there past the house and the trees was a faint rainbow. My rainbow, my sign, my gift.