The Trip Story: Part 2

by mssinglemama on August 19, 2009

As we drove in to New York City and out of the gorgeous Poconos mountains, John Bear and I started wondering if we should have stayed in our peaceful cabin. But we knew his little brother, Patrick, was overdue for a visit. Easily one of the nicest guys on the planet, Patrick gave up his room for the couch so John and I would have a place to sleep. His room, about the size of a walk-in closet only had a few inches surrounding each side of his futon mattress.

We dropped our bags on the mattress and headed out for a drink in the Bronx and on the way home spotted a mysterious trunk waiting to be picked up with someone’s trash. Patrick and his wing man, Thomas, decided the odds of the trunk containing a body were slim to none and picked it up.

trunk on the street

At home, with the help of Patrick’s roommate they busted the thing open.

old chest wardrobe suit case

There were so many young dudes around I felt like I was in a college dorm again, only this time I felt entirely too old to be there so I acted the part and told them to tilt the trunk-wardrobe-suitcase thing upright to make a neat hallway dresser.

“And look, you would each have your own little drawer,” I said. So old. Such a mom. Can’t turn that part off, no matter how hard I try. And when I think about it, I’d rather not.

The next morning Patrick let John and I shadow him on his commute into the city for work.

new york subway

After 35 minutes of subways, trains and much walking we popped out of the darkness at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge.


We followed Patrick up to his office for a quick meet and greet with his awesome co-workers at Mammoth Advertising.

mammoth advertising

I think Patrick was really happy his big brother was there to see where the magic happens. By the way, follow Patrick on Twitter @professortruth.


After a few hurried instructions from Patrick we headed out to brave the city on our own. First we tackled the bridge of all bridges.


At this point in the morning the temperature was probably in the upper 80s, maybe creeping into the 90s but by the time we crossed the bridge, if you want to call it that, our jeans were clinging to our legs, the sweat was dripping down our backs and I think the temperature was into the upper 90’s with a heat index over 100 degress.

“A store, we need to find a store, to buy some new clothes,” I said. There was no way we could head back to Patrick’s to change, we may as well been blindfolded in a jungle.

“Okay, but where do we find one?” John Bear asked.

We hadn’t the slightest idea of where to go next so we wandered around the Financial District with a bunch of other tourists and dodged the speeding New Yorkers. I began to wonder why they were all in such a rush. A few minutes later after an incredibly rude visitor information booth guy gave us a map and a curt direction to Times Square I decided they were probably all trying to get away from each other. At the onset every New Yorker we met had a rough exterior, but as soon as we talked to them (typically when they were forcibly seated and calm, like on a Subway) they were nice, and it seemed almost craving friendly human interaction. Or maybe, and more probable, this Midwestern girl just can’t cut it around tough city people.

After a quick outfit change we did what every good tourist, yuppie would do and stopped in Times Square.

Times Square, New York City

You can’t tell from the photographs but Times Square stunk. A few of the smells were so strong that even John Bear could pick them up, and that’s saying something.


There I met the two nicest guys in New York City.


“You’re not from around here are you?” one of the one on my left asked.

“Hell, no!” I said.

“It’s that smile. You are actually smiling from ear to ear, that’s how we can tell you’re not a New Yorker.”

So sad. To live in a place without smiles freely flowing. By now the heat was beating down on us. Even in our new outfits we felt like we were walking across the Sahara. The Sahara with the smelliest, stinkiest odors oozing out of every corner. Puke. Garbage. Sewer. Rotting food. It was bad and the heat made it worse. John Bear wants me to tell all of you that I have a super human sense of smell, so my opinion may be ultra biased.

After Times Square we started looking for Central Park and after a while finally made it to the shade and the trees. Utterly exhausted, we took a seat on a pocket of the park filled with sweet, young couples.


And then I realized we were one of them too. A couple. I often forget I am one of a couple now. There is an us instead of an I. A we meaning us three, instead of us two. I snapped this picture before leaning back into John, using him as an impromptu chair.


Up against my make shift chair I mapped our subway course back to the Bronx. Turns out there are two trains and two stops at Woodlawn, for the Woodlawn Cemetery, a 400 acre cemetery 30 minutes north of Manhattan and home to monstrous tombs, many of them larger than my apartment. Rather than take a cab or a bus to the right Woodlawn exit we decided to walk. But being so desperate to escape the people, the noises and the smells we chose to walk through the cemetery – the walk, the guard told us, would take 20 minutes (at least). We took it, gladly and enjoyed our first few minutes of relative quiet in over 24 hours.


That night we busted out of New York City, vowing to come back with more time, more patience and a more agreeable weather forecast. Rather than drive out the same way we came in we decided to spend our last night of vacation in Philadelphia. After the hideous New Jersey turnpike dumped us onto the the Philadelphia freeway we hit a traffic jam and stayed still in the Fiesta for 45 minutes. We sat there in silence, out of words and patience for one this busy world we’d entered.

By the time our heads hit our pillows at a hotel for business travelers, sterile and cold – it was nearly midnight. We slept like babies. Me dreaming of being back with Benjamin the next night and John Bear dreaming of heading up to Cleveland to grab Murphy. But all of those plans were suddenly derailed when we ran into an unexpected pothole the next morning.

To be continued…

[Get a sneak photo peak at the next chapter here and then here in the Wedding album. Hint: scroll down to see the latest photos, they’re all in chronological order]

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren August 19, 2009 at 8:03 pm

I’ve only been to NYC once, and I don’t remember the smells during the day… but I DO remember the stench at night when everyone had their trash out on the curb to be picked up!

That pic of you and John Bear is so cute! — It’s still strange for me too when I realize that I’m part of a couple. For me, I think it’s because my current relationship has such a different vibe than all of my previous ones. I’m not really sure how to explain it.


Christina August 19, 2009 at 8:35 pm

As most Long Islanders, I live just a train ride away from the city but never visit it. I try to go once a year around the holidays though. I LOVE the smell of the city on a cool winter night. I stay far away on a hot August day though, so I’ll take your word on the stench.


maureen August 19, 2009 at 9:29 pm

Interesting…the idea of a big city is so foreign to me and outside of the quiet island lifestyle that I’m currently living, I love my small town and rarely miss the city life I left behind when I graduated from university and left Vancouver. However if all of the big city boys look like the bear’s brother sign me up…


mssinglemama August 20, 2009 at 8:09 am

You live on an island? So jealous. I think moving in with my mom and into the woods for that year took all desire of mine to live in a huge city away. Even here, in Columbus, I often want to escape to a more peaceful place.


christine August 19, 2009 at 10:32 pm

oh, new york city! i lived there for several years, and it still pulls at my heart strings like no other place i’ve known. but yes, it stinks in the summer. and it is so hot and humid in august! and times square sucks. new yorkers avoid 42nd street if at all possible. 🙂


daniel August 20, 2009 at 1:17 am

You Rock!


min August 20, 2009 at 5:23 am

Hey, I am a natvie New Yorker. So sorry you didn’t get a good taste of the city. We are friendly here! TImes Square is full of tourists so those people not smiling were probably not from the city. Financial DIstrict is full of people going to work and at rush hour in the morning they are just in their own little worlds. YOuhave to remember outside the city people are in their own little worlds on the way to wrok==tehy wre just in cars. HEre in the city you just see everyone more. You missed the Village, Soho, the upper west side, the museums, the neighborhood s in Brooklyn the FOOD–you’ve got to come again. We ARE happy here. I hope you give it another chance.


Tina August 20, 2009 at 6:38 am

Oh, I wish I knew that you had been here in Philly! I would have bought you both a beer!!


Phoenix August 20, 2009 at 7:10 am

only a midwestern girl would capitalize ‘subway’!!

I was in NYC once, and that was enough!!


Bill August 20, 2009 at 7:12 am

It’s like your very own Seinfeld episode!


maureen August 20, 2009 at 9:43 am

Yup…west coast of Vancouver Island, you drive through my town on the way to Tofino/Ucluelet…definitely a far cry from NYC!!!


Restless Mama August 20, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Those two dudes are right. My first time in NYC I was a starry-eyed college girl spending the day in the big city. The 2nd time – I still had stars in my eyes but was not charmed by the buildings taking up space inthe sky. The last couple of times – the energy would lift me up and drain me out. When making the decision to either live in NYC or Boston – it became an easy choice to live in a mystic city in New England.

I’m happy you were able to find some peace in the cemetery.

Very excited to hear all about part three.


BK Mom August 20, 2009 at 3:44 pm

ok, I must speak up here and defend my city…I am a NYer, born and bred. I love you and this blog, but must say you happened to visit the worst possible places during your short stay. A little more research could have warranted a much more delightful trip; brooklyn, harlem, the west village. I can’t even remember the last time I was in Times Square-that is a nightmare for sure! As for the financial district, it is all work during the week, so of course everyone is rushing around. I, work within view of the bridge and can hardly stand it myself (especially now with the hoards of, no offense, tourists that descend upon the area in August). New Yorkers have always, and remain to be, the mot misunderstood folks around. Life in this city is not easy, and does take its toll. We are all just trying to survive, work really hard, but are not ogres. As for the smell, it can be quite nasty during the summer months especially in chinatown, I will give you that. Sorry if I sound defensive, but its one thing to hear NY be routinely bashed as a city, and another to hear its people classified as rude and miserable…I’m one of them!


mssinglemama August 20, 2009 at 5:57 pm

I’m so sorry I offended you but I didn’t mean to classify you all as rude and miserable. I didn’t even use those words… but please read this sentence again:

“At the onset every New Yorker we met had a rough exterior, but as soon as we talked to them (typically when they were forcibly seated and calm, like on a Subway) they were nice, and it seemed almost craving friendly human interaction. Or maybe, and more probable, this Midwestern girl just can’t cut it around tough city people.”

Remember, you grew up there, but I grew up in the quiet country of Ohio and Michigan – and yes, John’s brother didn’t give us much direction, we should have done some more research but didn’t have time. As I also said – I’ll be back with more time and more patience.

Thanks for your comment… hope again, I cleared that up a bit.


min August 20, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Hear Hear BK Mom ! NY is tough but amazing. I am proud that my kids are being raised in this crazy edgey diverse city. It is not for everyone but this city has heart===you just have to stay clear of Times Squ.are. I would have taken you to John’s Pizza in the west village for pizza that melts in your mouth, to the Esplanade a few short blocks fromm the financial district for a beautiful walk along the Hudson . NYC is gritty, just like single moms, I can’t help believe that someone like you wouldn’t discover the vibe ===ayou needed someone to turn you on to the poetry of the city, at native tour guide.. Hey, you didn’t even get to vist TopSHop in SOHO.


mssinglemama August 20, 2009 at 5:59 pm

I know, my trip was WAY too short. I can’t emphasize that enough. Next time I come, I’ll stay for a week and let all of you be my tour guides or, at the very least, you can tell me where I should go. That pizza sounds amazing.


aussiechic August 20, 2009 at 6:15 pm

Oh I am an Aussie chic and I lived on the Upper East Side of NY for 8 years. I know live in New Jersey – married with a 10 month old little boy. Yes, Times Square is a bloody nightmare. UGH. Yes, it stinks and is noisy and full of unfriendly people who just push and shove….ugh. Most NY’s avoid it like the plague. However, when you wonder into neighborhoods, like the UES and Tribeca and Battery Park, that is the NYC that I miss and the one that you would enjoy. You need to avoid the crazy parts, they are exhausting.


Jenna Jean August 20, 2009 at 8:09 pm

I always like seeing pictures of Times Square, you always see different outlooks from the people who take them.


Mandy August 21, 2009 at 5:52 am

Dude, I totally agree with you. NYC is smelly and hot and I stick out like a sore thumb.

I much prefer Boston!


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QueenNewsBee August 21, 2009 at 7:10 am

Hey, Don’t worry about the New Yorkers, they will get over it … but if you went to a lot of tourist areas the rude New Yorker is true — and, even I (a recent transplant) find myself getting very annoyed at gawking tourists who clog up the crosswalks or sidewalks and make me miss the final seconds to cross the street, catch that subway and then I end up late or waiting unduly … So that’s why New Yorkers are impatient but I have learned that if you know the language and the reason why they speak it, survival is easy.

((It’s a highly passionate, driven and competitive city where everyone is on a mission, but with millions on that same kind of mission it is critical to not miss a beat or it could cost you a lot — and where the variables are huge and the stakes high, folks have the mindset that you gotta have teamwork to get through the city so we all can be successful. Teamwork meaning, no lollygagging, no delays in moving forward at a light change, being aware of me and I you so we can both cut through the crowds without cutting each other off.))

So it’s a silent code of honor, if you will. Surprisingly, I have found New Yorkers to be the most considerate and aware residents out of the various places I have traveled and lived — centering around Philadelphia, DC-Annapolis and Nashville. Many times I have experienced or watched New Yorkers give up a seat, or two, for a mother and/or child — sometimes even a couple people making simultaneous offers for the little ones, who aren’t babes but between 4 & 7 to have their seat.

Another major difference in New Yorkers bar none, is they (in cars) will move out of the way for an emergency vehicle the second they hear the siren, even if it is yet a block away. I know that sounds silly, but I have watched drivers across this country block roadways, make ambulances remain on their back bumper honking until they finally give way, even though they had plenty of foreknowledge — presumably. So for NYC, it truly speaks to their level of consideration and awareness — again the silent code of respecting the urgency of each person’s path.

As for smiling — well, that makes you a target for panhandlers and those people handing out fliers or hawking things — by not smiling, we make ourselves less vulnerable to intruders, tourist rackets and as a woman, unwanted attention. I already get comments here and there as I pass by men, but if I turned on a 1000-watt smile, geesh, the danger factor would jump by 1000 percent. Although I do feel very, very safe in NYC.

New Yorkers are always willing to help — suggest a place to eat or see, let you know which way uptown is once you emerge from the subway, or how to get somewhere — never once have I been put-off by someone as I have learned to navigate the city. But the rules are simple: have manners & be respectful, don’t be a dingbat and be aware of your surroundings — then NYC will be your oyster!


Jen C. August 21, 2009 at 8:23 am

New York rules. 🙂 I think people didn’t care for the “So sad” comment you made, Alaina. Honestly, it put me off a little too, but you can’t please ’em all! I get why you said it and how you could feel that way, having an outside perspective. I guess we just don’t think our city is sad. We think it’s vibrant and happily alive. I’m sure you’d feel a little “Hmph!” if someone came to your beloved town and said “So sad.” But it’s no big deal. This place isn’t for everyone! It’s definitely a wild city and for someone who’s not prepared for the pace, it can be overwhelming. My mom and stepdad live in the midwest (I’m originally from Illinois) and they, despite being savvy travelers, often have a tough time when they come. We NYers love it, though.


Peach August 23, 2009 at 6:52 am

wow, your insight on NYC is exactly what i’ve been trying to voice, but unable to find the words for…
i live in the city (but originally from the west coast) and there are great parts to it, obviously. but it really is sad to be in a place where people put up such thick walls around themselves and look down on unabashed happiness…
and that smell you couldn’t pinpoint? could it have been a mixture of garbage, rats and dried urine?


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