Thursday, April 10, 2008

New York/Getting Home

Well, when we landed at JFK, I almost cried, I was so happy to be back on the ground. And back on ground where my phone would work! I checked my messages, and even though we had found out about my sister's baby being born already, they had left me a couple voicemails. Considering it was about 7:30 in the morning Eastern time, I wasn't going to call them quite yet.

The passport officer in New York was quite funny, too. It was raining in New York (which made me almost want to cry!), and when I came through, he thought he'd make a funny joke on my name. "It's only raining here, not snowing yet!" I laughed awkwardly and said something stupid like, "Well it is now that I'm here!" Yeah, shameful joke, but keep the people who hold your fate of getting back into the country in their hands happy, you know?

Getting through Customs at the airport was a debacle...although it could have been a lot worse. The luggage took forever getting off the plane, but what did I connecting flight didn't leave until almost 5:00 that evening. Anyway, you have to fill out one of those declaration forms while you're on the plane, and declare all the things you've done while you were away. I didn't declare I'd been on business, so that was questionable (hey, I was visiting family!). Also, I had to put something about touching livestock since I'd ridden that camel. And a yes to the question about having plant products with me (those dang date candies!). I got up to the main officer in customs and he asked me to describe my yes answers, and then he sent me to the agriculture line. The lady there had to look at my candies (my mother had better be grateful!), but they passed, and I was good to go. I'm always afraid I'm going to screw something up when I travel alone and that I'll be considered some sort of threat on security. But I made it through relatively unharmed.

I had this crazy idea that I'd just check in for my flight to Salt Lake, drop off my bags and be ready to head out to the city. I caught the AirTran and headed to my terminal, got in line and waited, and by now it was about 9:15. Things were moving at a quick clip for my plans! I got up to the desk and the lady told me I wouldn't be able to check in for another hour and a half because they were only allowed to take baggage up to six hours before a scheduled flight. Awh crap. So I got to hang out there while I felt like forever, but I called Sarah and saw how she was doing, and I did some reading in my book. Mercifully, 10:40 came around and I got to the kiosk, checked in and bolted out of there on my way to the subway connection.

Now, I'm not professing to be a New York subway expert by any means, but I went there a little over a year ago and became familiar with the workings of transfers and the different colored lines and all. So I wasn't afraid of getting lost. Turns out I should have been a little more afraid! I was looking at the line I was on, and a little bit before it was too late, I realized I had to get off and transfer to a non-express train on the same route if I was planning on getting up to Central Park and Gray's Papaya. Luckily I figured that out soon enough and switched trains at Penn Station.

Going outside in rain and 40 degree weather after you've just spent two weeks in a virtually paradisiacal climate is painful. I just remember this big sadness swept over me, but it was quickly overtaken by the excitement to be in the city and at Gray's Papaya, famed hot dog joint. And they were pretty good hot dogs!

It was strange getting to actually listen to and understand everyone's conversations as I milled about the city. I walked down 72nd Street, past The Dakota, the apartment building where John Lennon and Yoko Ono lived and in front of which, John was shot. Just across the street was Central Park where a memorial was set up for him. It was covered in flowers and people were surrounding it. When I was little, I learned how to play "Imagine" on the piano. I didn't think anything of it, but listening to it now as an adult, how profound it is! I have a few friends who are avid (that's an understatement) Beatles fans, so they were quite pleased to see the pictures I took of the Imagine memorial.

I didn't stick around for long because I had another H&M to see. I got back on the Subway and headed down to 34th Street to Herald Square. It was the most logical H&M location for my needs of the day, and it turns out, it's right next to the Macy's made famous by the movie "Miracle on 34th Street." It was nice to have my phone to just snap a quick picture so I didn't have to pull out my camera and risk looking all touristy. The H&M was fantastic. I wanted to spend probably twice the time and money I actually did there, but my wallet needed a break after vacation and time constraints put me in kind of a rush. I did find some really cute things, though, in sizes that actually fit me! God bless America! And since I've decided to accessorize more, I picked up a cute necklace and bracelet. I also purchased a cute pants suit and the shirt I had fallen in love with at the H&M in Dubai, but they only had up to the size just below what I needed.

And back to the Subway where events got a little scary for a few minutes. I missed the transfer I needed to take the orange line back to the blue line which would take me back to the airport. I got out my map and frantically began trying to find an alternate route. Fortune smiled upon me, and I found a stop that would get me there, just a few down the line. Phew!

Back at the airport, I realized I didn't have a ride home once I got to Salt Lake. I had talked to my friend Ben who wanted to take me to the Collective Soul concert upon my landing, but I really wanted to go see my niece. I had emailed him but never heard back, and in New York I had no access to the Internet. So I was texting around, trying to see if someone could come get me. Turns out that he (Ben) had given away the tickets and he called to offer to come get me from the airport anyway. AND to go visit my sister and the new baby in Ogden. Talk about a knight in shining armor! I was very happy that he was willing to play chauffer that night.

So I boarded the plane in New York, at ease about having a way home once I got there. The flight was jam packed full. I was expecting to get some blogging done, maybe having some time to read...but I was so claustrophobic and annoyed by everyone else on the flight that I got restless. One of the women in the seats across the aisle from me was speaking SO loudly to her children, and they spoke loudly in return. It was probably about five families, each with three or four children, each of them trying to keep their kids happy by buying all the snacks and movies that became available. And I was so tired after traveling for so long and having so little sleep that I wanted to reach out and strangle someone. The lady sitting next to me was traveling with her teenage daughter, so she was getting disgusted with all of the commotion as well. I kept hearing her make these snide remarks under her breath, and that just set me off even more. I finally just put on the noise cancelling headphones and tried to take a nap, but that woman's screeching was so loud that it penetrated my bubble. I can still remember her daughter's name: Ella. I heard it about 23490875384 times. "ELLA! Hand me this!" "ELLA! Get the game out of the bag!" "ELLA! Do you want a snack?!" And another woman wasn't seated next to her kid, who was about ten. She had to yell back to him whenever he wanted anything. "Want me to buy you a snack?! Which one? Huh? What?!?" I mean, yeah, take care of your kids, people, but we're in a plane, and everyone can hear you. And there ain't no getting away because we're all stuck listening to the dilemma of trying to find milk for the baby's bottle. Whoa...this post just got a whole lot of bitter.

Suffice it to say that I was once again so happy I could cry when we touched down in Salt Lake. I found my way to the baggage terminal quickly, hoping that I could avoid some of the confusion and frustration from the plane. I got there and it was already swarming with children and parents looking for their skis...I figured out that it was Spring Break and everyone wanted to come for a fun ski weekend in Park City. I sat a ways away from the baggage carousel and that's where Ben found me, slumped in a heap of travel mess. I was so past feeling and so tired (I had only slept about three hours in 48), but so excited to go see my niece. We talked there for a little bit and then found my bags without a problem, and we were on our way.

After the drive up to the hospital (I think I already blogged about going to see my niece for the first time) and then back to Provo, I was beat. Home felt so strange. But a good strange. I could sleep in my own bed, drive my own car, eat my own food. Yes, vacation was fantastic, but even though I didn't want to face the reality of it...

I was home.


Blogger Erika said...

So I KNOW for a fact I would have gotten so so lost and probably curled up in the middle of the city and cried. My sense of direction is ZERO. So I really really admire you for getting yourself around New York! I would have asked someone for help and they would have mugged me I know it. Okay... and ALSO we're taking our two kids to San Antonio next month, I will definitely try to be more courteous to those around me on the plane, because that sounded like HECK. I may have strangled someone too. Hopefully someone won't strangle me when we go. That sentence was pretty disturbing, sorry. You know what I mean!

April 23, 2008 at 10:19 PM


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