Monday, August 22, 2011


Our trips back to the East coast are mostly about family, and just being together acting idiotic and eating and  drinking and laughing and laughing and laughing. And singing and swimming and laughing. But mostly drinking.

In this last year, it's been very much about Dad. Aw, dad. But it's also about going home, and revisiting the haunts and adventures of my youth, and sharing those experiences with my kids. One adventure I love to share with my homies is the obligatory sojourn into the city. I mean The City. The one. New York.

Last time I was in town, I was flying solo and had a grown-up type adventure* in the city The City. *if I may be so bold as to suggest that you click on the link, I will. I love that story  

This time, we had a tourist agenda. The kids wanted to go to the top of the Empire State Building, and I wanted to take them on the Circle Line (toot toot). 

So, the day after the kids and I got back to Mom's after crashing in New London for a couple of fun nights, we joined forces with Mom and Ann and took ourselves to the train. Without drama. 

Why does she look so nervous? She always assumes that I'm doing something scandalous.
We arrived at Grand Central in no time at all, and hopped in a cab for the short ride to Pier 83.

Mom navigated
The cruise was really great, interesting and gorgeous and cool. We passed beneath 19 bridges! The views of Manhattan from every conceivable angle were breathtaking. Still, nearly 10 years later, it's impossible to overlook the giant gaping hole in the skyline. 

The kids wanted to talk a lot about September 11, and were full of their usual jarringly frank questions and comments. We all speculated about whether or not the Circle Line was running that day - why wouldn't it have been? And how terrifying it must have been to watch those wretched events unfold from such an unobstructed vantage point. Ugh. 


After the boat ride, we walked a bit with Mom and Ann with the intention of hailing a cab for their return to Grand Central. It was a busy summer day though, and cabs were scarce. It wasn't long before we were closer to their destination than our starting point, and they decided to hoof it the rest of the way.

The kids and I had sights yet to be seen, so we parted ways and explored the quintessential freakshow that is Times Square.  

By then it was almost time for our lovely Mary Beth to bust out of work, so we started the trek uptown, thinking that we'd hail a cab at our convenience.

I had several opportunities to step out from the curb and show my kids how it was done, this hailing of an NYC taxi. I showed them the casual three finger salute, the enthusiastic wave, the urgent pointing finger, even the  grand jete. And then we finally got a cab when one pulled over to let another guy out.

But no matter! We got there, and after a lovely visit at MB's much-loved homestead, we headed out for a fun and festive meal, highlighted by half price sushi and stupidly cheap margaritas. Those margaritas were so cheap, it made us stupid.

Stupid enough to order about a dozen. But look at that table!
After dinner we did some exploring in MB's magnificent 'hood. We headed to the river and MB took us to the perfect spot for an after margarita dinner drink, and dessert for the kids. It was such a high point, visiting and gabbing and soaking up the city. After a while, we skipped home. 

yes we did.
And had a fun little ending to the night where I may or may not have hired my kids to babysit themselves while safely ensconced in MB's double bolted apartment in her doorman protected building so that she and I could slip out for just one more. 

The next morning came obnoxiously early, and Mar had to go to work! Poor bastard. I suffered on her sofa bed for a while feeling sorry for her about that, until I remembered that the small people hanging their heads out of the 4th floor window had been promised a trip downtown and then up to the 86th floor. Oy.
We got ourselves up and out the door, and grabbed some provisions while I scoured the deep, dark recesses of my addled brain for the helpful information MB had given me the night before about how to reach our destination via subway. She had let us know that it would be tough to get a cab in her neighborhood on a weekday morning. So, I knew which direction we were supposed to walk... but oh God, the thought of going underground made me want to hurl. I took a fleeting, desperate peek over my shoulder with a halfhearted hand raise to see if maybe, just maybe an empty cab might fall down out of the sky. [cue angel choir] One did!  

I had the kids tell our driver that we were headed to the Empire State Building. He was a chatty guy, I admitted to the over consumption of margaritas and he told me a few stories of his own. Soon the conversation returned to our destination, and the kids excitedly speculated about how the cab would look from our intended vantage point. After a few minutes of small talk, our driver said: "The last time I was up that high, I was on the 73rd floor of the South Tower." I asked a few tentative questions. He talked a while. We listened. His story was like so many others, so stunningly many others'. But unlike so many of those others, he was around to tell it. He told it right away, almost ten years ago, when the gaping hole was still smoldering and he and his pregnant wife were still reeling. He must still be reeling. Aren't we all?

All of the cabs looked tiny from way up there.

We tried to imagine having to outrun terror from that high up, but it's impossible to put yourself into that place and time.  I was hanging out with my girl on that awful Tuesday morning in 2001, she was 12 weeks old. Now she's ten, and something lovely is being built inside of the gaping hole.


loves NYC in Central PA said...

oh, that fateful day...and that beautiful city that I love so much.

Thanks for sharing both the fun and the reflection. The link to the firsthand account brought it all flooding back.

10 years...

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Oh how I love that train story from last fall. And how I love your stories from this summer too. Your kids are so great with the questions, questions, questions. They make you laugh right through your tears, those two.

And Aunt Mary Beth and your homies skipping down the NYC sidewalk? Pure perfection.

Lovely, Jacquie.


MB said...

Jacq, your blog & pictures are making me smile at my desk this Monday morning. Love it! Miss you guys! xoxo

Me, You, or Ellie said...

I'm with Central PA, that first-hand 9-11 account really brings it all back. Like you, J, I was holding tight to a little baby girl, only 1 week old, wondering what kind of crazy world I had brought her into. 10 years indeed!

Great mix of the tragic and joyous! Your kids look totally at home hoofing it uptown.

And, you know, maybe your girl is on to something with her scandal-nervous expression! Just kidding -- of course.

Great post.


Mom C said...

excellent Jacquie, I miss you guys. love, mom