Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New York - Day One

We arrived at 7 am.
(Can I say something about those pods in first class? They look stupid. But wow. Someday I want to fly across the country in one of those.)

Our flight's configuration was 3 seats, aisle, 3 seats, aisle, 3 seats.
Clint, Max and Drew sat together in a row in those middle 3 seats. And I had the 3 seats behind them to myself.
So I took a sleeping pill and slept.
It was kinda wonderful.

We got dropped off at 8:30 am and Jean let us in (7 hours earlier than they usually let folks check in). I was ready to get going; the kids had different ideas:

So I napped on the couch too.
But by 3 pm, I started poking them to get up. They didn't pop up all happy and cheerful. It was like trying to get them up for school.

I thought we'd "ease our way into New York" by finding the subway, taking the 2/3 line to Times Square, then walking across to Grand Central Station and taking the 4/5/6 line back to Harlem. At 7 we'd walk over to the Apollo Theater to watch Amateur Night at 7:30
Our neighbour's brownstone:

Our street:

At the end of the block, where the romantic look ended:

Our brownstone is adequate but the neighbourhood is sketchy. We are feeling conspicuously white and vulnerable here.
Many, many men with very dark skin of a variety of ages just stand around on the sidewalk smoking pot and yelling at each other.
In one particulary scary area, (two blocks from our suite) I started praying for safety. It was at that moment my foot twisted in a break in the sidewalk and I did a slow motion tumble - landing at the bottom of a brwonstone's stoop in front of an audience of black men. I crashed down with not an ounce of grace, sacrificing my left elbow and right knee but saving my camera.
Those men were off the stoop in seconds punching me in the face and grabbing my backpack and camera equipement.
They were gentlemen, concerned and helpful.
I rolled myself over and sat upright; flat on my bum with my legs outstretched. Two inches beside my left thigh was the nastiest noogie a person could thwack out their mouth. So yeah. Not an ounce of pride left in me.
They (the audience to my gymnastics disaster) kept trying to pull me up but I asked for a few minutes to compose myself. You have no idea. My knee? Was smashed. And the pain that was radiating from it was making me ill. Soooooooo embarassing.
Max came back to give me hand, so between Max and some older African American guy, I got back on my feet and limped towards the subway, trying to catch up with Clint. When I did he hissed, "I can't believe you."
I was stunned. "Your compassion is heartwarming. I wasn't flopping around the sidewalk because I wanted attention. What is your problem?"
He just shook his head.
I was ready to ship him back home.
Who raised that kid?
Anyway, we got to the subway, bought our passes (WAY more confusing than in should be) and took the underground train into the city.
This was the first sight we say when we ascended the bowels of New York:

HUGE billboards!
Acknowledging that lack of food was likely contributing to our general grouchiness, we immediately found a place to eat. Maybe you've heard of it? Applebee's. After our food had been placed in front of us, Clint said, "I'd like to pray for us." And he did. In busy restaraunt in Times Square. Something he's never done before. So he redeemed himself.
And then?
It started to rain.

Can you see it?

Buckets of water dropped on us.
Not just us, but everyone. The whole city was getting soaked.
But what made us special is that we didn't have umbrellas. Or hats. Or jackets.
It was like standing under a person's bathroom shower. I was wet to my skin. Even my underwear was drenched. And my hair? Yeah. It looked just like that. My makeup? Dripped off my face and is on some sidewalk in Manhattan.

We got over to Grand Central Station where there are alot of stairs. I'm only mentioning this because a person with an injured knee does not negotiate stairs well. And from the time I fell (or flung myself at the sidewalk, depending on your point of view) we encountered well over 250 stairs.
We made it back to our suite at 5:30 completely and totally wet. Looked like we had gone for a dip in a lake, fully dressed.
Max had another nap.
I attended to my hair.
The other two grabbed the laptops.
At 7 we walked over to the Apollo Theatre, walked through the most 'ghetto-like' area where less than half the buildings were occupied. We were representing. Every other nationality and skin color were in abundance. We were the white folks in town. Yay us. I suggestion that "after the show is over, we are catching a taxi back to our place." No one argued. Yay. I made a good decision! (Even though it's going to cost me alot, we are going to be using the New York taxi service more often than anticipated.)
The show?
Like an African American Idol search. It was Amateur night, and the entertainment was fabulous. The building had so much history, and the audience was happy. But, maybe we were too tired to fully appreciate it all? Maybe my knee was rebelling against our climb to the top of that very old theatre? Maybe we're not cultured enough? I'm glad we went but wished it had blown us away. We needed a WHOA moment today and didn't get one.
When we got back to our suite, there was a note on facebook for me.
My mom fell again and broke her ankle.
It's in a cast and Jule will be spending alot of time over there next week looking after her and dad.
If you aren't sick and tired of praying for me and mine, could you pray for Mom? And dad (he doesn't understand) and Jule (she'll be their only caregiver til I get back) and Mandi (who took mom to the hospital) and me. And my kids. And this trip. And the drama that my life has become.
Three things I'm thankful for:
1. Fun things planned for tomorrow. And it's expected to be sunny.
2. So thankful Mandi was there to look after things when mom first fell. Mandi - you rock and I love you. Jule? I love you too. I will take my turn next week.
3. Internet friends who pray.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ha ha, you're having as much fun as we are in Disneyland (the happiest place on earth??). Good times, eh?
I can tell how racist I am now that we're here: every time I see an obviously well off black man, I wonder to myself which NBA team he plays for and I size up his girlfriend/wife to see if she's what I imagine an NBA player should be with. I only realized I was doing this yesterday afternoon!