Saturday, January 2, 2010

dropping the ball

The family plan for several weeks, if not a little over a month, was to go to Times Square for New Year's Eve. When Big B first suggested it I simply acquiesced to his plan thinking it would probably never pan out. No, it was more like hoped his plan wouldn't come to fruition. Instead, as time went on I talked myself into going thinking it was something I really wanted to do.

I can remember sitting in English class back in 1999, when I first started college, and one of my classmates was telling me he and his friends were planning on going to New York City for New Year's Eve. I told him they were crazy. How could they possibly want to go into all that craziness?? I'd watched enough Dick Clark specials in my then 28 years to know that it was bedlum in Times Square on New Year's Eve.

Why the change in thought? A lot has changed in the past ten years. For one, we're not dealing with the impending doom that was foreseen with Y2K. Secondly, I've evolved over the past ten years. Some people may grow more cautious with age. I've learned how to not be so uptight.

For nearly ten years I've had a stronghold on my children's NYE activities. Paranoia can do that. Let's face it though, if we make family plans to go somehwere for NYE then I don't have to worry about either child, especially the 16 year old, while they're out with friends doing God only knows what.

LB and AW were both against going to New York, at first. We told them they would both be able to bring a friend. This didn't bring about much agreement from LB. He even conducted a poll at school asking his friends if their parents told them they were going to Times SQ for New Year's Eve would they want to go. According to him everybody said they'd rather go to parties with friends (which is what he had envisioned doing - conveniently his friends' stories matched what he wanted.) I never received any hardcopy statistics. I doubt his results were reliable or valid.

Somehow both boys came around to the whole idea. Unfortunately, the one friend AW invited was unable to go. LB asked two friends and the second friend was the one who won the grand trip.

After three semesters of nursing school, with a summer semester of 8 credits mixed in, I've been left with great need to let loose, step outside my comfort zone, and just have some fun. We didn't get to take any sort of family vacation this summer. The only time we got away at all was our trip up to NJ this summer for Big B's uncle's funeral. I doubt that's anyone's idea of rest and recuperation.

Why not go do something totally fun and outrageous? As I thought about the idea I pushed the fact that I have mild claustrophobia to the back of mind. Denial comes in handy when you think you want to do something totally fun and outrageous.

Not only all of that, how could I burst my husband's bubble? That's an ironic question because that's basically what ended up happening.

We packed up the car, our family plus one, the dogs and our bags. Wednesday afternoon we made the drive north to New Jersey. We spent the evening with my brother-in-law and his family. Thursday morning we got up and headed out around lunch time. We'd been warned that we wouldn't be able to use the bathroom while waiting for the ball to drop so we decided to have lunch prior to going to the train station. Then we made our way to the station and were on board riding to NYC with excitement in the air.

We arrived at Penn Station and made our way to Times SQ. By the time we got to our final spot it was around 4 p.m. It was already somewhat chaotic. You arrive at an entry point where the NYPD has sawhorse barriers or metal rails cordoning off specific areas. In succession they let large groups of people in closer to the center of the action. The earlier you get there the better spot you'll end up at. We'd arrived in the area around 3 p.m.

When they let the groups move it becomes truly chaotic with people trying to push past other people through a maybe two foot opening in the barriers. Meanwhile the officers are yelling at people to stop pushing with little success. We got in and finally ended up at what was a great vantage point for the stage where performances are held. Like I mentioned before we arrived at our spot around 4 and there we stood, packed in like sardines. Everyone to my front, right and behind me was taller than me. Big B was to my right, with AW kind of back behind him. The two older boys were behind the couple that was standing behind us. This frustrated me as I wanted them by me. They didn't care though. To my left was an Italian family and the women kept pushing into me. I withstood this for about an hour to an hour and a half.

Then it occured to me how much longer I would have to withstand my aggravating surroundings. I started panicking. My feet and back were already hurting. AW was irritated and bored and it seemed that LB and his friend were as well. After a bit of pleading I agreed to go to the adjacent McDonald's. Big B decided to stay, so the rest of us headed into the warmth. Yeah, forgot to mention it was pretty cold. The surrounding body heat helped some, but only a little, especially once drkness descended. (Not that it was dark in the area with all the lights, but the sun had set.) We went in, ordered and then went upstairs and thawed out while resting our feet (and my back). The intent was to try and stay in there as long as possible.

No can do.

We probably stayed longer than many, because I don't think the teenagers who were manning the second level felt up to telling adults that they needed to leave. As it was it wasn't incredibly packed.

We sat in there for about an hour and a half. We couldn't sit there much longer with boredom setting in and we knew at some point we would be kicked out. Out we went. We attempted to stand nearby for a bit, as I was trying to text Big B. Then a police officer came up and told us we needed to move along. I told him we were detached from my husband, and he asked if we needed to get back in. Rather then reinsert us where we had been we had the officer pull Big B out and he sent us to the next section.

So long story shortened, we were beat. All the other sections were full and we weren't getting back into the section we had been in.

We walked around for a bit, Big B seemingly dejected, the two older boys yapping about how they didn't want to leave - they were just doing what I told them to do, the ego-centric 13 year old asking to go into a gift shop so he could get a NY Yankees hat (as if he's a fan of baseball, let alone the Yankees), and me feeling utterly horrible.

If you could have seen the look on Big B's face, you know the look - the one that will be forever engrained into my memory - you would understand how badly I feel.