My kids were appalled by my sailor mouth that tends to come out when in New Yawk. Imagine their surprise when their usually soft-spoken but firm mama busts out the F-bomb left and right. I use it to; as they say pepper my sentences, illustrate a point, add drama and flair to an otherwise boring statement, express surprise, outrage, disbelief, anger and all emotions in between. Example, “What the fuck, we got on the wrong train?” Ugh, sigh.
To better illustrate this allow me to set the scene. The kids and I embark on a day of sightseeing on our first day in New York. By kids I mean, my sons, F and T, 19 (almost 20) and 17 respectively, eldest son’s girlfriend, M, 19. We had an amazing set up, having been surprised with a generous gift of a hotel stay in Long Island City (a quick few subway stops from Manhattan). The shit. After our airport pickup the afternoon before, our fairy Godmother, informed us that we would have the handpicked room overlooking the iconic Manhattan skyline for a week’s stay! What? What the fuck? (See how smoothly that fits there?) Amazing, to say the least.
Did I mention the F***ing cold? I was so unprepared and ill informed although obsessively checking my phone’s weather app everyday for the past month. The weather app told me one thing but my body was telling a whole different story. It was in the thirties but felt more like below zero temps to us ill-prepared San Diegans dressed in casual travel gear, hoodie sweatshirts and our heavy jackets. Stepping out of the airport, I was brutally reminded of what cold felt like in your bones, in your joints on your skin. WTF? New York gave us a fresh one, saying, “Welcome to NY mofos!” We were on spring break! Wow, I forgot what this felt like! We huddled together waiting for our ride, trying desperately to get warm and shield ourselves from the gusts of wind.
Back to our first morning. We set out to conquer the city. We were on a timeline, having different travel dates back home. F would only have a short 5 days to give his girlfriend her first time experience of New York City. We were on a mission to do it all; Times Square, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Radio City Music Hall, Barclay Center for a Nets game, 9/11 Memorial, Chinatown, Little Italy, not to mention Queens and a visit to Grandma and Grandpa in Long Island.
The pressure was on or should I say, I put the pressure on myself to make this all happen. Mind you, I’ve been in sunny SD for the past 20 years with frequent visits to my beloved New York, but I’ve usually always had a family member or friend to guide me.
Thanks to Groupon, we found a deal on a hop-on, hop-off sightseeing bus tour. Armed with our metro cards and bundled up with our poor excuse for cold-weather gear, we set off. We had a 2-minute shuttle ride from the hotel to the train. We got down to the lobby a few minutes early and were so excited to see free coffee and tea! Thanks to guidance from our well-meaning family we had already gotten the MTA app for the New York transit system and had mapped out our route on the subway. I put on my brave mama face and said, “Kids, I got this. Hurry up, be aware of your surroundings, watch out for cars, they won’t stop for you here, your asses will get run over, pay attention!!!!”
We got off the shuttle trying not to look totally clueless and went into a sweet looking coffee shop, lured by the sign in the front window, “Coffee that doesn’t suck.” Fucking New York! It made my heart smile! Once inside, we leisurely looked at the menu overhead and I broke it down for them, “it’s not that bullshit that you get at one of those crappy places at home, a cold ass bagel with an individual cream cheese on the side; they actually toast your bagel and hook it up for you here. Pick a type of bagel, butter or cream cheese, toasted or untoasted, to go. Drinks? What do you want, coffee, hot chocolate, or juice?”
“Move it, we gotta catch the train! Oh shit, we need to take out cash and I gotta pee! No restroom here? WTF!”
Luckily for me, the sweet barista said that they would open up next door and let me use the restroom. I left the kids to wait for our order and headed next door profusely thanking the gentleman unlocking the door. “It’s straight back,” he said with an Italian accent. Rush, rush, rush, hurry, hurry, hurry! Oh, yes, I though, I’m in fucking New York all right. So, here goes nothing, maneuvering my bundled up ass into a tiny but clean restroom. What a pain in the ass, just to do the simplest things with all of this cold weather gear on. Ugh! I did my business as quickly as possible because how else do you do anything in New York and used the ATM machine to the left of the restroom because as cousin V reminded us, “Cash is King in NY.”
As I exited the restaurant, I picked and examined a bold red flyer for the restaurant. At the top was a crown and at the bottom the name of the place, Queens and Paupers. In bright block white font, were the words, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”
To be continued…this is only a small taste of what was to come on this life-changing, eye-opening, slapstick comedy of a family trip back to NYC.