Sunday in New York


Getting to NYC was almost as big of an adventure as being there. Our flight left bright and early at 7:00am, so we had to hit the road at 4:45. We went to turn the keys to our apartment into the people at the front desk but of course, they can't accept them until 8am. As much as we insisted, saying that we needed to catch a flight, they refused to cut the bureaucratic red tape. They called someone who was authorized to come pick them up, so we wait for the guy...and wait...and wait. Finally, he comes down but then of course he can't find our room's paperwork to sign us out. Not our problem! We leave him with the keys and hit the road with our bishop, who was kind enough to give us a ride to O'Hare at such an ungodly hour.

I'm not sure that our bishop knew we lived 20 seconds away from an entrance to the freeway (to me, the most obvious way to get to the airport), but I didn't question him because I assumed he knew where he was going. As it turns out, he doesn't spend much time on our side of town so...he didn't lol. We went waaaay out of the way into the boonies, driving through residential areas and who knows what else. Once we finally got to the freeway, we missed the exit. As we were turning around to get back on the freeway, our bishop blew through a stop sign that he didn't see.

Cue the flashing red lights.

I'm not kidding. We got pulled over by a cop! Then our bishop couldn't find his insurance card, so after about five minutes of rummaging through the glove box the cop was just like "Umm...I'm going to go write you up...we'll deal with that later."

As you might have guessed, we missed our flight! We were five minutes too late to check-in via SkyCap. Luckily, the next flight to NYC was only 2 hours later, and we made the stand-by list! Phew! Our bishop felt so bad, but honestly, how could we be upset? The guy drove us to the airport at 4:45 in the morning! And we got to read/sleep for two hours in the airport. Hakuna matata!

Despite the nightmare of a morning that it was, it was nothing compared to the afternoon. Try lugging two 50-lb suitcases, a gym bag full of books (we went a little crazy at Borders in Chicago!), a 10 lb backpack, and 15 lb carry-on. Oh, and a purse. Now do it in 90-degree weather, 80% humidity. Throw in a smelly subway station with no disability access (aka sans elevators...have fun carrying your luggage up and down flights of stairs!), and you've got a hell of an afternoon in front of you!

But we made it! 2 1/2 hours after our flight landed, and two pitted-out shirts later, we trudged into the air-conditioned comfort of the Thirty Thirty hotel (located on 30 E. 30th St....easy to remember!).

Here's the awesome thing about being poor: your hotel room is always laughably teeny! Our bed literally took up the entire order for Brock to get around to his side, he had to side-shuffle through about a foot of clearance between the end of the bed and the wall! Oh, and we had a lovely view of the brick wall of the building next to us. Sure, we couldn't see for miles...but we could watch the happenings of the alley right below us! We joked that our TV, (which was probably a 20-incher) was, when compared to the size of the room, a big screen!

But I'm being too harsh here. Our room was actually really nice! It was clean, very comfortable, and the bathroom was surprisingly spacious! What more do you need? Plus, you can't beat $100/night in NYC, and the location of our hotel was awesome--right near a subway line, a stone's throw away from the Empire State Building and an 8-minute walk to Times Square. If you're ever planning a visit to the Big Apple, I highly recommend the Thirty Thirty!

On a side note, you can get everywhere via subway. Do not, I repeat, do not rent a car in NYC! It's a complete waste of money. Parking rates are astronomical and it's just too much of a hassle. A 7-day unlimited pass on the Metro costs $27 and will literally take you anywhere you want to go.

Anyway, after we settled into our room we stripped the sticky clothes off our bodies and took much-needed showers. And having been going full-speed since 4am, we were in a state of exhaustion that not even refreshing showers can cure! So we cranked up the AC, plopped into bed, and napped for about an hour. Aaaahhhh :)

We spent the rest of our evening strolling around Times Square, which was so much fun! Times Square is an overwhelming place--you've never been bombarded with so many advertisements in your life-but that's it's charm :) The city of New York has, for the summer, shut down streets 42-47 on Broadway to car traffic so that people can have more room to walk around. They've even layed out beach chairs so people can sit down for a rest!

For dinner, we ate at a BBQ place called Famous Dave's, which was very, very good. But the best part of our meal was our server, Alex. Not only did he give awesome service, but he had the most inspiring story! (Being the talker that I am, I always seem to extract these out of people!) He's an immigrant from El Salvador who just wanted to come to America to provide for his mother (his father abandoned the family when he was little). He's been living in Brooklyn for the past six years, and instead of getting a job working around other latinos, he chose the harder route and chose jobs that forced him to learn English. He's now a US citizen, has his real estate license, and owns two apartments! He talked to us about the 90-hour work weeks he used to pull in order to send his mom up to the States. It was just so inspiring (and humbling) to talk to him because he gave so much to follow his dream. It also made me realize what a sissy I am! I'm worried about getting a part-time job with a 17-credit semester coming up at school, and he was working 90 hours a week in a place where he didn't speak the language! Wow. Buck up, Kristi.

More than anything, talking with Alex made me realize something important: the American dream is still alive. For all those people (you know who they are...) who harp on the news that "The American dream is dead!" "We're past our heyday!" "Nobody likes us!" SHUT UP. That is so not true so don't you dare believe it for a second! People like Alex are risking their lives and giving everything they have to make a living here. Don't take your citizenship for granted! America has always been great, remains so today, and always will be.

I learned a lot on Sunday. How to fly stand-by, how to navigate the NYC subway system . . . but the lesson I got from Alex was the most valuable. Don't be afraid to talk to people. You never know what they have to offer.


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