“If I can make it there
I'll make it anywhere
It's up to you
New York, New York.”
In To Abort, I mentioned being born in The Bronx. I left when I was adopted at 22 months. I remember nothing of it. Honestly, it wasn’t the best time of my life, being abandoned by my bios.
Mom and Joey adopted me, and we lived in Howell, Michigan until she Joe Rhode about the same time she’d met me, and they married. Then, we moved to Texas. Now, you always hear about the adopted kid never knowing he or she was adopted. Wow, talk about fam secrets.
My fam wasn’t like that, we always knew Joey came from Cali while I came from New York. Mom’d always promised to take me back sometime. Of course, life happens, and it never happened, because of school or something. I graduated and started my own life with Joey as my roommate, then, with Teri as my wife. But, she left and Joey died…still, I stayed on my own. I met Joey, my wife, the Summer Joey died, who was also from The Bronx and lived there long enough to remember it. We set up house and talk about going back to New York resumed. Then, 9-11 happened when we’d really started talking about going again. Damn, Bin Laden!
Fast forward to ’04, Kat, my sis’d graduated, the folks still owned the office, so me getting off was nothing…everything was a-go. We set it up to do it in the Summer to coincide with my birthday, making it a roadtrip up the East coast to get to New York starting in the Carolinas, so Mom could see her sister, then work our way up the coast to see my brothers, John and Matt with his wife and my aunt, uncle, and cousin on Dad’s side in Virginia while getting to see my MIL too. However, we had to fly to Houston to fly to the Baltimore first.
OK, let me tell you about flying for a crip that can’t walk. It’s a bitch. First, they take you out of your chair, so you feel like a fish out of water, you watch your chair go away from you, and hope to GOD that it meets you on the other end…oh, and that the people loading it, don’t break something, which is an almost certainty. Needless to say, our chairs made the trip, and we got good seats, so we could see out the windows for the six-hour flight. We did the fam thing the first few days, which was cool to catch up and meet Matt’s wife. Also, it was cool to watch Joey with her mom since she’s not able to up to see her often. Then, it was off to New York.
My main goal was to see The Phantom of the Opera. I’d seen every version on film and read the book. That was my baby. I’d looked up limo vans and everything…but, I’m getting ahead of myself.
So, after we come from under the Holland Tunnel, we were in Manhattan! HOLY CRAP! First off, I couldn’t get over the buildings…and they went through the clouds! Next, the people…millions and millions of ‘em everywhere! We made it to Hotel Pennsylvania, where we’d be sleeping for the next four days. While the folks were unloading our kneel-down van that I could ride shotgun in, I stood outside looking up while said millions and millions of people streamed by me.
In those four days, we went to Time Square to T.G.I.Fridays, where I normally get a half rack of ribs and a shake…not in New York, damn, the prices. I got a salad and a soda. We also went to the Toy R Us that’s no longer there anymore. That puppy was two stories…with a working Farris wheel! Another time, we went to Little Italy, where I go to see a yellow Lamborghini up close. The guy saw me fumbling with my camera and stopped to let me get the shot. That night it was late getting back to the hotel, and walking the streets was cool, a little scary, and sad because he passed a guy, who obviously had CP walking on the sidewalk…perhaps drunk, because he was shouting to no one in particular. The sad part was we passed a homeless kid (he didn’t much older than us) sleeping against the wall of our hotel.
We also visited Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, Central Park, where we bought Kat a horseback ride for her graduation present, and got a New York slice of pizza, which Dad thought he was gonna be a badass and have two. He wound up sharing the second with us. We also took a ferry ride around the Hudson, I got the honor to meet Joey’s remaining New York fam Frank, Joanne, and aunt Lucy, we went to the top of the Empire State Building, where we learned the entire building was evacuated in 30 minutes on 9-11, and Joey fed the pigeons AFTER she SPECIFICALLY told me not to, because we wouldn’t get rid of them after…she was right.
As I said, seeing Phantom was to be my baby…except it was stolen from me…by the folks.
Let me back up. The day we saw Phantom, we had to hurry to get back to the hotel, so we took the bus. The first thing Joey and I noticed was we weren’t locked down like we’re supposed to be here. In New York, the traffic’s so much that there’s no need to lock us down…we weren’t going fast at all. Speaking of fast, Joey got my attention when she saw an old lady on a walker on the west side of Central Park. Old girl was weaving in and out of people…and, passing us! We didn’t catch her until we were on the other side of Central Park!
We got off, dressed for the show, which is strictly a black-tie affair, and hot-stepped it to Times Square. What? Anyhoo, we got there, and the folks’d scored Joey and I third row orchestra! HOLY CRAP! When the chandelier was lit, we could feel the heat, we were so close, OMG! I’ll fully admit I cried like a baby when the “Music of the Night” played.
In Concerts, you learned I’m not one to do things half-ass if I can. Phantom was no different. After the show, I took the chance to ask an usher where we could go to get autograph. He told me the cast comes out the door at 42nd St. I grabbed Joey and Kat and told them just to keep up. We got there. There was a small group, but we got our playbills signed, and I got to talk to The Phantom! We talked about the different versions we’d seen…I’d seen more than he.
Finally, I had the chance to find my bios, but when we passed The Bronx, I decided not to, because they had nothing to do with me coming up. Mom took us to Blythedale Children’s Hospital, where I was adopted. That place was so cute! It’s a hospital, therapy, and school all in one. I looked in a couple rooms. One room had a little boy learning to drink from a sippy cup, and in another, I saw kids napping on their little pads with their tiny chairs and walkers to the side. I was truly humbled to see where I came from.
Be good to each other.