Have you heard that it is spring? I did too. People kept saying it. And while it is true that there is way more light in the day (no more sunsetting feelings at 3:30), it is still cold. It was just frigid yesterday. And I’m not talking about my wussy Hawaii standard of weather. I got out of my car to pump gas and the way the wind was tearing through there, I thought that I might freeze to the pump handle.
Yesterday I had to head into the city. And if you live on Long Island, there is only one city, it is NYC. A giant hulking sentinel blocking the way to get off of the island (mostly true). When I was growing up New York City was a scary place. It was dirty and dangerous. When my friends and I planned a trip into the City it revolved around drinking on the train going in, trying to get someone to serve those of us who were underage in a bar and going to 42nd street to see sex workers (thanks MFM!) I remember once some of the boys went into a peep show place. And once we somehow all got served in a random Irish bar. When I was young, going to into the City meant peril. My mother was convinced that if you went to the City you would probably be killed. So this is the lens through which I have always thought of the City.
This softened a bit when I was older and would go in with a friend. We rode the subway. Do not make eye contact. Ignore everyone else on the train and pray your stop was soon. Even then the City seemed to be a foreign place to me. A place that I could not navigate. It was a place to visit. Like a tourist.
More recently we have gone in with my son. Taken him to silly themed restaurants and tourist traps (Ripley’s’ Believe it or Not). But we were tourists. And I always relied on friends to get us around. Once I was put in charge of getting us, by subway to the Museum of Natural History. And it was a success. The only time.
We have been living out on Long Island for almost a year now and I have been, very intermittently, submitting my son’s information for acting roles. It is difficult because I do not want to take him out of school for this and many of the auditions are during the week. He was being considered for a video blog for a prep testing company but did not get it. Then we sent in a video audition for a play in NYC. It was the Wizard of Oz and he ended up getting the role of the Tin Man. This theater company seems to put on numerous plays for both children and adults for the sole purpose of putting on plays. We did not have to pay the company for him to participate (tickets to the shows aside) and there are no other fees. He had to commit to coming into the City for rehearsals for three Saturdays in a row and the performance dates over the first weekend in April. I said yes. I figured that it was a short commitment and it would be good for him. For his profile and just from an experience perspective.
But it was in the City. And I had to be the adult. I had to be the navigator. I had to be the one in charge. So I did a bunch of planning. I looked at the map where the theater was and it seemed close enough for us to walk up to it. I figured that I had to find something to do while he was in rehearsal. The first week I borrowed the pass from the local library to the Museum of Modern Art. It also happened to be the St. Patrick’s Day parade so I was a bit concerned about drunk hooligans on the train. I was also concerned about getting lost. My planning for the day worked out really well. We caught an early train back, devoid of shenanigans and we were back home (half hour drive from the train station as well) by 8:30 p.m.
This weekend was week two of rehearsal. I borrowed the passes for the Intrepid Museum and enticed my HI friend who now lives in NYC, whose mom was visiting from HI, to meet me there. The pass got in six people (how much do I love the library?) It was quite fabulous. When you do not pay $33 a head, it really changes how you look at your visit. There is no desperate attempt to get everything in, but we kind of did. We leisured through the entire museum and spent plenty of time in the hands-on space for kids. It seemed appropriate for all of us (our party did include a three year old). After the museum I hoofed it back to where my son was and we found a Thai restaurant (one of the major foods we are missing in our very haole neck of the woods).
So two weekends of just me and my son and we have not had any major catastrophes and I am feeling pretty proud of myself. I have visited two very different museums for free. I have hung out with some of my Hawaii people. It’s been really good. Next week, one of my friends will be in and we may meet up with him. I can’t deny that I may cease being the adult at that time and may let him lead us around and potentially get on the subway. But I feel okay about that.
I keep telling my son that the City is just like where we live but with a lot more people. People we know live there. Their children go to school there. That he should not be afraid. That he should not feel anxious. Part of me thinks that when I am telling him this, I am also trying to convince myself. So far, it has been pretty convincing.