Friday, September 12, 2014

A New York Adventure!

I didn't sleep well last night.  I am not sure if it is from the chemo, or if it is our impending trip to NYC that has me up so early.  I have enough time to stretch, go for a bike ride, pack, wake up Kaileigh and get ready to go.  We are on the road to pick up Ayla by six, already running late since I had told her we would be there by six.   I can't remember which part of the street her new apartment is on, since I have only driven by it.  I blame it on the chemo, but maybe I wasn't really paying attention when we drove by it before.  I don't even know the house number.  I feel like a really bad mother.  We call her to find out where it is.

We pick up Ayla and Chauncey and with Kaileigh driving, head toward the Big Apple.  Chauncey has never spent any time in NYC before, so we have let him choose what we should do today.  Our first stop; the Statue of Liberty.  We sail along and make it there in three hours.  We are able to park at the Department of Homeland Security lot with Chauncey's handicapped certificate.  It is just a short walk to the ferry that will take us to Liberty Island.

While we are purchasing tickets, we find out what a sweet trip this will be.  Because Chauncey is on crutches, we get to the front of every line.  For tickets, we are our own line.  They escort us to the front of the security line, and the front of the ferry line.  We sit near the door, and watch everyone board the boat.  It is great fun to see people lurch to the left as the boat dips and sways while they are entering.  It is like they are all walking drunk!

It is a beautiful sunny day, but there is a strong breeze on the ferry, and of course I have left my gloves in the car.  Kaileigh holds my hands to warm them so they won't be so tingly.

On the ferry
A view of the city from Liberty Island

tickets are all sold out for going inside the statue today, so we walk around Liberty Island, enjoying the sights and the beautiful day.  It is fun to see so many people from all over the world enjoying the statue. 

We get back on the ferry and head to Ellis Island.  I am a little disappointed with what we find here.  We had come when the kids were little, and they had such interesting artifacts on display, things families had brought over from their country of origin.  This time there was a lot of history, much of it nothing to be proud of as Americans.  I suppose it is important immigration information, but much of it was about how badly immigrants were treated once they reached New York.  If I were a person of Asian descent, I would come out of that exhibit feeling very angry at this country.  I know that we didn't do things right for many people, but I felt that the whole exhibit was kind of down on the country.  I thought it could have been a little more balanced than it was.  And the kids stuff was pretty lame.

Even back then they had graffiti

After Ellis Island, we jumped back on the ferry.  I was relieved to get back to Homeland Security and find that the car was still there.  I was a little afraid, that even with permission, we might get ticketed or towed, but all was good.

The drive to the other side of the city, to Central Park West, was easy and trouble free with the help of the GPS.  We found a parking lot two doors down from the Society for Ethical Culture Building, which was perfect.  At the end of the day when we are all tired, we won't have far to walk.

With the help of Yelp! we find a well recommended food vendor not far from where we are.  I get chicken and rice with a salad for five dollars!  Such a deal.  It was very good too.  We sit next to  a Waffle and Dinges cart, which smells heavenly.  By the time we are all done with our lunch, we have no room for trying out dinges though.

Chauncey wants to see the piano from "Big" at FAO Schwarz.  We walk a long way for someone on crutches to find it.  We even had to stop and do a repair along the way, but Chauncey was so excited, he didn't mind the distance.  At this point, I think he started to get blisters on his hands, but he was undeterred.

In the middle of a street fair
Once we arrive at the huge toy store, I realize that it is just about time for Steven to meet us at the Ethical Culture building.  I hustle back, finding and shorter way along the side of Central Park.  I wait on a bench across the street until I see him, and try to get his attention by calling him.  He doesn't hear, so I thy to quickly follow him in the building.  Once I get in the door, I have no clue where he may have gone.  There are five floors, so I start looking.  The second and third lead to a large auditorium, so those floors are easy.  The fourth is a corridor with many doors, but I don't see any sign of him there, just some caterers setting up for the dinner to be served at six.  The fifth is another floor filled with doors, but just as I get on it, Steve is coming out of one of the doors.  He is so happy to see me!  He introduces me to his classmates and mentors, and we have a couple of minutes to catch up.  I give him his new phone so we can now have contact.  Even though he knew it was a new phone, he didn't know it was going to be a smart phone and is very touched and surprised.  He needs to work on the graduation ceremony with his classmates, so I head to the toy store to find my crew, and lead them back.  It turns out they are on their way to Times Square.  I change route, and make it there before them, so I call to see where they are.  They have found a street fair on their way and have stopped to get a cronut, which is a delicious cross between a croissant and a doughnut.  We make it to Times Square, but decide not to go too far in.  We still have to get back to the West End of Central Park, which is a fair distance away.

We are happy to snap photos of the huge electronic billboards and visit the Hershey store and the M&M store that are nearby.  They are both packed with tourists, like us, and it is just enough of an experience to leave us content with what we have seen.
Times Square!

Ayla waves her arm and flags down a taxi like a pro, and we end up with a limo that will take us to our destination for twenty bucks.  I think we have gotten a deal.  The driver is really nice, and impressed that we are up from RI.  He says he doesn't meet many people from there.  He could be pulling our leg about this, but he seems sincere.  He wants to know about the new marijuana laws, which none of us know too much about.

He drops us off right in front of the Ethical Culture building, and we take the elevator to the basement for the bathrooms, and then up to the forth floor for the dinner and ceremony.  The food looks good, but I am still feeling stuffed from lunch, so I wait until dessert to eat.  There is always room for cake! I do get a coke, and forget to ask for it warm, so it has ice cubes in it.  I am not thinking about the chemo on my back at all, and I take a big sip.  I am surprised at its lack of taste (a side effect) and then shocked when I swollow and think there is something lumpy in my drink.  It is just the neuropathy.  I have completely forgotten about it.  As annoying as this is, I take it as a good sign.  I have forgotten about the pack on my back!

Steve gives his speech

Kaileigh, Ayla, Chauncey and I all get introduced to Steve's classmates, friends, mentors and administrators.  He is so thrilled to have us here.  He didn't know that I was going to make it, let alone the girls and Chauncey.  Alex would have come too, but he had to work.

Passing the torch to the new class.
The ceremony is excellent.  Each of Steve's classmates give a short summary of what they got from the class, and how they are going to go out into the world and use what they have learned.  It is inspiring.

Dr. Felix Adler, founder of Ethical Culture

A statue in the auditorium

Later, we get to hang out on a NYC rooftop, at the very top of the building where they have a playground for the preschool that is located there.  The view of the city at twilight is amazing.  We are very lucky to see the city from this point of view, looking East over Central Park, with no obstructions.  I think this is a view usually only seen in movies or by those with a lot more money than many of us will ever see in our lifetime. 
NYC Skyline from Ethical Culture rooftop

Before we head back to RI, Chauncey would like to take a carriage ride through Central Park.  We find a lovely carriage, with a very nice Hungarian driver to take us.  He tells us bits of trivia as we pass points of interest.  It is the perfect ride for us.

As we head back to the car, we see some men launching some lights into the air with sling shots.  It turns out to be small helicopter like objects with leds attached to them.  They are mesmerizing.  Ayla and Chauncey each purchase on, and of course after I leave, I wish I had too.  They are so cool looking.

It has been a beautiful day in the city.

We head home, and Kaileigh is not feeling too tired, so she drives.  I nap in the front seat next to her.  Once we are out of New York, she starts to feeling sleepy, so  I take over for her.
As I  drive, I keep up with traffic, especially this one white car.  At some point at about exit 50, or about halfway through the state, I wonder what has happened to that car.  I realize that I am going down hill, and quite a bit over the speed limit, when bright flashing lights appear out of the darkness.  I am being pulled over for speeding.  I wait on the side of the road for the officer to come to the car, and realize that my handbag is in the trunk.  I put it there so I could better fit my backpack and all of my people without crowding anyone out.

The officer cautiously approaches the car on the passenger side, and I feel badly for him.  He has no idea who he has stopped.  For all he knows, we could be drunk or high gun wielding maniacs from Massachusetts.

I tell him I need to get my handbag out of the trunk, which certainly could be perceived as shady.  As I get out of the car, I forget to grab my chemo back pack, and remember when I get a little tug on my port.  I raise my hands up and carefully say, I need to grab by chemo bag from the car.  This is yet another move that could be seen as shady.  With slow, steady movements, I grab the bag, walk to the trunk and open it.  In there, along with my bag, are Chauncey's crutches.  At this point I hope the officer is feeling a little less threatened.  I go to the passenger side of the car to get the registration for which is in Josh's name, who is not in the car. The car is registered in Massachussets, and I have a Rhode Island drivers license.  The insurance is updated but the card hasn't come in the mail yet, since they have just moved, so that information is not right.  I think all of this is adding up to one well deserved ticket.

The officer instructs me to get back in my car, so I do.  I look in the rear view mirror, and he seems to be just sitting and looking out the window. I wonder what he is thinking.  After a few minutes, he comes over to the driver side window, and tells me to take it easy.  The speed limit on that stretch of highway is only fifty five.  I thank him and drive off, grateful that he has not given me a well deserved ticket.  I think it was the chemo that did it.

We get back to Providence and drop off Ayla and Chauncey.  It is almost one, and I am exhausted!


  1. Had to look up Dinges. I learned a new (Flemish) word.

  2. I enjoyed reading this entry, Katherine, and would like to talk to Steven sometime about Ethical Culture today. My parents were married in an Ethical Culture ceremony in 1944, while my mother was teaching at Fieldston. Afterwards my paternal grandfather remarked, according to my aunt, "I didn't understand a word of that, and I just hope they are really married."

  3. What a great (and ambitious) trip. I like the little kindnesses strangers (sometimes policemen!) hand you sometimes. ;-) Good for you to go for it and make some new memories!