We had our first day in New York today and I would like to say that we were amazing, that New York was amazing, that everything was amazing and that I currently had an ego as big as Donald Trump’s hair but I can not say that. I am obsessed with Donald Trump’s hair at the moment so I like the chance to bring it up at any opportunity I can. I seriously don’t know why everyone is not asking themselves the obvious question that has bothered me for months. The man has billions right? Or millions. Whatever, he has a lot of money. So the question I ask myself all the time is that if the man has millions and can’t sort out his hair, how the hell does he think he can govern a country? It does my head in. And don’t even talk to me about the orange glow of his skin. His hair is a disaster, he always leaves the fake tan on for longer than he should, and he thinks he can deliver a State of the Union Address that is not akin to bad stand up? It is just not right.
Anyway, I digress. Today was hard. It involved tears, anxiety and high levels of stress from both my children and their mother was up there with the best of them. Saying that, we are so excited about the next 10 days and everything it promises, but our first day was not the triumphant, ‘Aussies in the Big Apple” movie in my head that I was hoping for.
From the moment we arrived in Grand Central Station we were overwhelmed. The heat, the number of people, the speed in which everything moved – we were like three little country bumpkins plonked into the middle of the metropolis. I have been to New York before but I have been with work and that is very different. Airport to taxi to hotel to conference room to meeting to taxi to bar to hotel room to breakfast buffet to meeting to taxi to airport. So many of my work trips that did not involve extra leisure time did not constitute really getting to know a place. New York was one of those places. But it is a city that I am dying to get to know and it is a city that I am dying to explore with my two monsters. Just today it sort of beat the shit out of us.
Anyone who reads my blog knows that I am fond of movies, books, hysteria and I have an active imagination. So I imagined all sorts of things for our first day in NYC but I did not take on board the fact that we live in a town of just over 3000 people and New York City has a population of 8.406 million people. Fuck me. I must admit I just looked up that figure and that was measured in 2013. Well no fucking wonder we were a bit overwhelmed. Next time Lara get your fucking act together and be more prepared for your little adventures!!!!
It is not that anything bad happened. We negotiated Grand Central Station, we found maps, we sorted out train tickets to come in and out of NYC. A lovely man helped us organise a weekly subway ticket which worked out brilliantly. Nothing bad happened but it was a day that was very difficult for the three of us. Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. I had my directions of how to get to the Brooklyn side all printed out. We were going the scenic route which meant a bit of a walk.
In working out the subways we got our left and right confused and the number of times we were walking on the left and getting in people’s way was astonishing. A gobshite man was really rude to Archie as he was getting on our first subway. This was the first time that Archie and Rissie had ever been on a subway and some arsehole was telling him to back off and stop being impatient. His little face crumpled up, but then these two amazing guys who had obviously watched the deadshit rude prick speak to my son, jumped up, gave us their seats and were so incredibly nice to the kids that it made me get teary. (Bad mistake to get teary this early on). I eye-balled the guy until the next stop and once again had fantasies in my head about what I would say to him but I never do anything with my fantasies. He got off on the next step and I gave Archie a thumbs up and his little smile made my moment.
My scenic walk to Brooklyn Bridge was probably a stupid idea with kids who were tired and overwhelmed and we ended up getting lost, but then a lovely man pointed us in the right way and was so nice to us we forgot we were lost. The actual Brooklyn Bridge was too much for me. It was a bucket list, one that for a little while, I did not think was possible. I was walking the fucking Brooklyn Bridge. So of course I started to cry. It meant the world to me. But I think the kids just wanted the walk to be over! But we loved the views, we saw the Statue of Liberty, the traffic underneath us was amazing. It was a dream come true for me.
Once we got over the other side, this was after a negotiating a bridge that in the kids minds, was hot, long and very congested with people who, like us, had no idea of what side of the path they were meant to be on combined with aggressive cyclists whizzing past and hurling abuse at the stupid tourists. We got to the other side to deal with a toilet, we found one in a subway over the bridge that I knew I could not use. As soon as I opened the door and got a whiff I had to stick my face into my smelly cleavage as that was preferable to the smell emanating from that space. Archie however braved it and Rissie chose to hold on. It was at that stage her little face absolutely broke and she burst into tears and said to me, “Mummy, can we just go have dinner at home with Huck. I just want to go home” and she had a little sob.
It was overwhelming. I sat her down and listened to her and suggested instead we find a place for a sandwich and a cold drink. I am so glad we did that as we had a chance to regroup. Rissie felt 100% better but she had no desire to go to Times Square and seek out m&m world (top of her bucket list). We decided that it was time to go home to Huck. We then negotiated the subway, with a bit of assistance from friendly strangers and the kids repeatedly asking me if I knew where I was going. We made it to Grand Central and then were advised by another friendly person that our train to New Rochelle was leaving in 2 minutes. So we all sprinted to our track. The train was by then peak hour but this absolutely lovely man who was a bundle of joy offered me his seat so I could sit opposite the kids.
As soon as I sat down, tears started trickling down my face. Archie kept on telling me that I was crying and despite the fact I kept on shaking my fucking head at the cretin he did not shut up. Then the lady next to me asked me if I was ok to which I replied, “No worries of course I am ok” and promptly burst into my best snot everywhere tears. She then patted my arm and listed to me say over and over again that we had had a wonderful day but it was just a bit overwhelming. She was lovely. Her name was Kiely. I suspect she thought I was unhinged. But she was like an angel.
On our walk home the kids got an ice-cream and I got some alcohol. That is actually my first alcoholic purchase since I left Australia, but I just fancied a glass with lots of ice and something bubbly. We walked Huck, the kids had showers and cuddles with Huck and we all felt so much better. I firmly believe there is medicine in the love of a dog.
A couple of things I have learnt is to have a plan. The kids don’t respond well to not having a plan. So I will plan each day. I am still not sure what the plan is for tomorrow afternoon, but I will fucking organise one. Pack more water. Wear better shoes. Teach the kids it is ok to stop and say right now it is overwhelming me. Tell myself it is ok to stop.
New York City. You are there on our doorstep. We will conquer you, you glorious bastard. Just you wait and see.