Here is how our travels from LA to NYC went:
Stupid o’clock am: wake
Slightly after stupid o’clock am: drive to airport. Get out of car. Wave bye bye to Jess :-( Who was, along with her husband, a fabulous host for our time in LA. Seriously, ABOVE and BEYOND.
Still stupid o’clock: check baggage. Baggage 3lbs overweight. Told by burly guy to take something out. Hide eyeroll. Take out camera and lens that I know weighs about 3lbs. Weight drops 1lb. I look at burly guy. He looks at me, my child, our other bags. Tells me to zip the suitcase back up.
Go to gate lounge, approach desk to ask for re-seat since we don’t have a seat together. Abrupt lady says she will waitlist me for better seat as they’ve had a few people not check in.
Wait some more, try to dissuade Arlo from loudly pointing out how everyone else is boarding and why hasn’t the lady given us new seats?
Wait some more. Flight due to leave in 15 minutes.
Arlo bursts into tears because he thinks we have missed the flight. Reassure Arlo.
Arlo bursts into tears because they are not going to have two seats for us. Reassure Arlo.
Lady finally prints us new boarding passes with seats together. Scheduled departure in 5 minutes.
Join queue on airbridge.
Make way ont plane. Stupid flight attendant says “We don’t allow children’s roller bags.” Arlo: What did he say? Me: Nothing, keep walking.
Settled Arlo into seat, plug him into seatback entertainment system THANK OG.
Fly over Grand Canyon and assorted other wonders of the natural world. Have difficulty seeing said Wonders as Arlo has the window seat but won’t swap, even though he is watching the same two episodes of Phineas and Ferb endlessly.
Read brand new Pratchett.
Approach New York state. Arlo fall asleep with 10 minutes of flight remaining. Five minutes later I shake him awake to see the Statue of Liberty. He looks, exclaims, falls back asleep. We land at Newark.
Out of airport. Find baggage claim. No wifi. Cannot contact Tildy, my host for the week. Stupidly arrived in NJ without anything other than her address, assuming I could hook into a wifi. Did not even note down cross street for purposes of reference for trains. STUPID PHONE is STUPID. STUPID XANTHE is STUPID. Wait 30 mins for baggage.
Find directions to train. Find that train from airport to NJ Transit station not working. Catch bus to NJ Transit station. Catch train to NY Penn station. People until this point crazy helpful.
People at Penn Station NOT helpful. Traipse around the maze for some time, without knowing which train or even which station I need. No wifi in Penn Station. Approach “Information” Booth. Ask about Tildy’s address (do not know neighbourhood, only address – STUPID ME). Man says he’s never heard of it. ‘Helpfully’ gestures at wall of tourist brochures, suggest I go look at map. Get map. Vaguely recall she is near 200 and somethingth street. Tourist map stops at 181st street.
Struggle outside into Madison Square Garden. Stand amongst a bunch of drug dealers ACTIVELY DEALING and suck up the intl text charges to get Mark (in Vietnam) to google Tildy’s address.
Realise DRUG DEALERS are actually ticket scalpers. Stop being confused about why nearby NYPD officer is not arresting them. Whilst waiting for Mark’s reply, amuse self watching mother and three daughters from Alaska try to chat up NYPD officer, who is preening.
Mark msgs me the cross street. Head back to “Information” Booth. Give man cross street. Man says “Wow, that’s waaaaaaaaaay uptown. You’ll have to go and ask someone how to get there.”
Look up at large sign saying “Information Booth”. Look at man. Look at sign. Look at bank of computers surrounding man. Heave sigh of irritation.
Walk back outside to Madison Square Garden. Mark texts me to say to take the 1 train. Head back inside to find platform for 1 train and buy weeklong metrocard (only $29 for a full week of unlimited rides, best thing ever). Go to gates. Tell Arlo to duck under barrier. Swipe metrocard, push suitcase through and attempt to follow. Suitcase too tall, rotates barrier, leaves me stuck on wrong side.
I look at Arlo, standing patiently waiting for me with his suitcase and mine. I look at him. He looks at me. Dangerously close to tears (me, not Arlo). Look around wildly for help. Arlo looks at me, completely unconcerned.
See transit worker. ”Ma’am, do you need help?” Me: “I Juswkjnfo;inrenwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah blubber blubber”. Start sobbing, whilst pointing to the cute AND ALONE blonde child standing over there DID I MENTION ALONE. Nice transit lady lets me through the doorway. (by this point it’s almost 7pm. We left Jess’s house at 6 that morning. We had eaten nothing but a donut since 4pm).
Find 1 train. Get on 1 train. Sit on 1 train for a REALLY LONG TIME. Arlo falls asleep. Wake Arlo up two stops early so he is slightly alert for getting off. Arlo falls asleep again. Poke Arlo until he fully wakes up. Get off train in darkness. Approach GFed flight of stairs topped by rotating gate. Arlo goes through. Suitcase gets stuck, jams gate. Dominican lady croons “Que lindo!” at Arlo as he struggles to pull the suitcase through for me. Dominican man shoves arm through fence and frees suitcase.
We take ten minutes to get down GFed flight of stairs.
Get to bottom of stairs. No idea how to get to Tildy’s. Mark texts to go north. I point out that it’s dark and there are no recognisable landmarks. Mark calls. I try not to freak out that I’m walking through nearly OMG THE BRONX (not really) while he describes my route. Make it to Tildy’s street. Tildy calls me. I am 5 buildings from Tildy’s place (which is, of course, uphill…but at least I didn’t take the stairs). Get in the door at just before 9pm. Tildy’s kids awake and excited.
Drink hot cocoa.
Start to feel alive. Tildy tells me there’s an express subway line that comes right to her block, basically, which would have shave almost 40 minutes off the train ride.
Drink more hot cocoa.
Kids go to bed at 11pm.
So, that thing I mentioned the other day about wanting to face the challenges of this trip and work stuff out without having to rely on Mark? This was an EPIC day and although I could have caught a cab and taken the easy, albeit expensive way, I did, in fact, lean on him. So not 100% under my own steam. Still, I’m pretty pleased with myself that I did all of that and only burst into tears once, and only snapped at Arlo once too.