(Part I: New York)
My daughter’s little six-year-old arm hung out the window, waving a pitiful wave, as she cried, “BYE MOMMY! I’ll miss you! wahhhhhhhhhhh!”
Airport departures are not what they used to be. In the olden days, I would have been the one actually departing, on an airplane, and she could watch the plane leave. It’s much harder to have her drive off (well, she’s not actually driving yet) and leave me on the curb. After she departed, I entered the airport to begin my own departure. Three hours early. Sigh.
Security makes me paranoid now, even though I am an old hat at crazed security. I start obsessing over my little tiny shampoos and lotion and whether or not they are in the appropriate plastic baggies. What if one sprung free? Will I be escorted from the airport, burned at the stake for dropping a shampoo in my carry-on, all loose and not contained in a Ziploc? But, as usual, I made it through the lines. I made it through the bagel and coffee line. Now I could focus on my trip. My twentieth high school reunion.
But first, to New York City for a whole 36 hours. Somehow I managed to get on a bus to Port Authority all by myself. This was a moment of pride for me because I was sure I’d end up in Detroit. I talked to the bus driver. I talked to the first two ladies on the bus. I double checked with all of them that this was the bus bound for Newark.
“Well. Actually, we’re in Newark right now.”
Oh god, I’m such a dip shit. “Oh yea, I know that, I meant to say Port Authority. Gee. I must need some caffeine. ha. ha.” That was a lie. I’d already had too much caffeine in the airport. I’m just stupid sometimes.
We drive and drive and mostly sit in traffic waiting for our exciting turn in the Lincoln Tunnel. Waiting. Oh man it’s like 96 degrees. The pathetic air conditioner on the bus can not match my overpowering armpit smell. Or is that the boy in front of me? He looks like he could be European. Yep. I’m gonna blame him. Not my natural deodorant that only works for 30 minutes (that I applied over six hours ago).
As I smell my own body odor, and that of the boy in front of me, I can hear some loud ass voices from the back of the bus. Awful, arrogant, obnoxious duck-like sounds. Without even looking, I know they are from Jersey. I have learned this from the intelligent rants on The Jersey Shore. I turn up Eddie Vedder’s Ukulele Songs. If music could get you stoned it would be this music.
We finally arrive, but no one tells me. The bus stops and a few people stand up.
“This isn’t Port Authority is it?” I pose my question to a couple who look like they could possibly be New Yorkers. I don’t know what that means because everyone is New York looks totally different. All I can be sure of is I seem to be the only one not wearing designer flip-flops or stiletto heels. I’m wearing Keens, because they are comfortable and sensible, and protect my toes from bombs and missiles and stilettos.
They look at each other, quizzically, perhaps because I am a raging dork… or perhaps they don’t speak English.
Finally, after a kind of weirdly long pause, the husband answers that yes, it is Port Authority, and I have just enough time to jump off the bus. Whew. Maybe they just wanted to see me run in my functional shoes.
Somehow I find my friend even though he blends in nicely with his designer flip-flops and we catch a cab to his apartment.
The rest of my time is a tour of beer (yay), gay bars, and designer stores… all while wearing my toe protecting Keens. Oh. There were some awful toilets along the way.
New Yorkers seem all high and mighty with their awesome theater, music, culture, art, and incredible food… why can’t they master the clean bathroom? Designer flip-flops and filthy slimy bathrooms? It seems like a recipe for disaster to me. Take my advice, New Yorkers, either clean those bathrooms or start wearing Keens. It is an accident waiting to happen.
Like a mom, I carried my wet wipes with me everywhere. I hovered over toilets. The air squat. This is really why women do lunges and squats at the gym all the time. We are toning and prepping for our inevitable toilet hover. If you are not strong, you will have to sit. Or hold on to something. I was just so glad that my daughter wasn’t with me because I’m not yet strong enough to hold her over the toilet, without her pristine booty touching the lid, while she goes to the bathroom. I didn’t wash my hands. I used my wet wipes because it seemed cleaner. In Colorado we have nearly zero diversity and rarely wear heels, but our toilets are nice.
The two gorgeous men that I stayed with had a lovely bathroom, and I could sit to pee -a nice change after doing the hover. But, when you are a guest in a studio apartment, sleeping on the couch, how do you make doo? (I don’t mean while sleeping on the couch. That’s just weird. At least I could toot though, because they had two dogs who were willing to take the blame. And after that much beer, bad smells are bound to erupt from your colon.) The nice smelling boy’s bed is right next to the bathroom. There is no fan in there, it’s one of the first things I noticed. Agh. I must not have pooped when I was younger, because I don’t remember these things stressing me out ten years ago. Suddenly travel is all about toilets. And art. I had one full day in New York City, and we spent a good chunk of it at the Museum of Modern Art. It was beautiful. The Monets, the Picassos, the Degas, and the bathrooms.
Thank you art people of the world. You not only display pieces of art I have only seen in books, pieces that I can stand in front of and absorb the size and texture and color and emotion of, but you also are considerate enough to provide clean bathrooms. Finally!
I hit the gift shop later, where I purchased a few items to decrease my guilt levels resulting from abandoning my daughter. I found craft projects, postcards, books and toys, but no t-shirts. At least no t-shirts that said,
“I took a dump at the Museum of Modern Art (and it was nice – so nice that I could have worn flip-flops).”
(…to be continued, part II: back to Jersey, 20 years later)