Sunday, March 7, 2010

Where Are You Now?

6 am in New York City's JFK airport. I'd been in the air nearly 6 hours. An aisle seat.

Damning myself for being too scared to take the Ambien I'd been given just hours before takeoff (have you heard the horror stories?), I tried to rub the sleep out of my eyes to look for my driver. Ah there he was, my last name scrawled in black marker across a Carey-branded sheet of paper. He chuckled at the obvious exhaustion with which I carried myself up to him, and I stood wearily by the baggage claim as he hustled to retrieve the car.

Oh, did I mention the white knuckled landing conditions? Friday morning's landing put me right in the middle of the storm as snow and wind pummeled the Big Apple. The plane may have slid around on the runway a bit, and I may or may not have peed my pants just a little. I was hard pressed to stay awake on the drive to the city. Listening to the comforting tones of the driver's explanation and exasperation at the unplowed roads and his upcoming job to Massachusetts (it's gonna take me owas!) lulled me into closed eyes and a wish that this had been my cross country experience rather than the extreme discomfort that is a red eye in coach on the aisle no less.

An hour after landing, he dropped me at the Sheraton New York, just blocks north of Times Square. I dragged myself to the reception desk, fantasizing about the comfy bed into which I would soon be falling. Oh, why oh why hadn't I the foresight to ask for early checkin? Hours, they said before a room would be available for me. Hours. 7 am in the City? No sleep? Starbucks called to me. I pulled out my trusty Android device and tapped Starbucks into Google maps and practically ran the few blocks north to a grande extra hot skinny cinnamon dulce latte. The first sip was a bee line to cloud nine. I perched on a stool in front of the window as New Yorkers scurried by in the snow on their ways to work and dragged out my laptop, reluctantly diving into work. Hours disappeared and the last drops of my latte became an icy dreck. So I packed up my laptop and braved the blizzard again to walk back to the hotel in hopes that my room would be ready.

It was, but there was no time to sleep. The West Coast was waking up and with that came email after email, conference call upon conference call. And the snow kept falling and my exhaustion was mounting. I couldn't believe that I had come all the way to New York City to hang out in a Starbucks and a hotel room. What a crime. From desk to bed to easy chair to desk to chair to bed, I was like one of those scenes from a movie where they speed up the footage as time goes by. Night fell and I still had hours to go before I could break. I grabbed the Room Service menu. Could I really let my fist real meal in NYC be room service? Why not? Breakfast had been a Starbuck breakfast thingy and lunch had been trail mix from the mini bar, so why not order a $22 BLT? Damn my three friends for being entirely unavailable - one in Vermont skiing (jealous!), one in Philly visiting a friend's newborn baby (jealous!), and the other working (same boat!). So much for knowing people. A Chicago friend recommended a place in the Village - buuut I can't remember the name and I didn't go, because it was snowing, and I was determined to walk everywhere. Another friend recommended Junior's. He had me at cheesecake. So my $22 room service BLT turned into a $20 Chicken Salad BLT and piece of New York cheesecake accompanied by a stroll into Times Square. If you like bright lights, do I have a place for you? Just like Piccadilly Circus, only I prefer Piccadilly Circus to Times Square because it's in London, and in the stack up of cities I've been to, it goes London, London, London, Chicago, NYC. And so, I walked to Juniors and they sat me all the way in the corner, because what else do you do with girls eating alone in a big restaurant on a Friday night. I wondered what I was doing there too.

I stared at my phone, refreshed my Twitter feed repeatedly, posted a picture to Facebook of my corner vantage point on the restaurant and wrote something witty about putting Becca in a corner. Oh, and I eavesdropped on the two young British chicks sitting next to me waxing poetic about putting themselves out there to find the perfect guy. Overrated, I wanted to say. It's not all that life's about, I wanted to say. Here is my long list of mistakes, I wanted to interject, learn from them. And then I chuckled to myself wondering how I'd gotten to the place where I thought I might know better. I don't. Except, I do know to stay single, at least for now. This fool isn't rushing in anytime soon.

And then I took my cheesecake back to my room and worked until 1 am when I collapsed for good in a vow to catch up on sleep and refrain from touching my laptop for the entirety of my Saturday.

And that was my first day ever in New York City.