January 11, 2020

That Time We Took a Bus to NYC...like a bunch of theater gypsies.

A few months ago, two theater moms and a Bub devised a plan to surprise their theater girls with a fun-filled, action-packed trip to NYC...on a budget.

Being fortunate enough to have family in NYC willing to take in 5 (!) gals for the weekend, definitely helped our plan along. Before we knew it, our bus tickets were purchased...Broadway shows were booked and it was the day before our arrival in the Big Apple. 

As I began to make our itinerary of places to visit and things to see, I got a bit nostalgic. Thirteen years ago, several of the items on our list were on a bucket-list to accomplish before a baby arrived...the baby who is now accompanying us on this trip. I remember telling Mom how much fun it would be to go into the city for an afternoon- eat in a little cafe and see a Broadway show with her...but Little Miss had other plans. She arrived less than 24 hours after Mom and Daddy arrived in NYC. 

Our car ride from NC to VA to catch our bus north included mostly caffeine with a side of Chick Fil A and showtunes. Adults all agreed we were thankful our travels north were soon to be via bus, where said theater-kiddos would have no choice but to settle down.

Then we arrived at the ‘bus station’ which...to those local to the Outer Banks, was the size of the Little Ceasar’s at West 3rd St...and equally as dicey. 

An eclectic group of folks turned as the stereotypical group of moms approached check-in with our extra bag of Chick Fil A for the road, and Starbucks Peppermint Mochas in tow. We were given a number, literally, and told to sit still until the bus arrived. I obliged- sitting perfectly still with all the luggage I could hold on my lap. We shared nervous looks back and forth, mouthing ‘maybe we should just drive?’ up until a booming voice came over the speakers.
“Attention...when the bus arrives, do not get in line...and do not board the bus. I have to inspect my unit before any and all boarding.”

I bit my lip and glanced over at my fellow stereotypical-counterparts. They give me the ‘yes, he said that...and no, apparently it's not okay to laugh’ look. I held it together. I.did.not.even.grin.

Then he said it again. #comeonman

I giggled like a 12 year old boy watching the change of life video at school. #couldnothelpmyself

In between the announcement  and boarding I notably said “It’ll be fine...this is going to be great!” at least ten times in a row. I evaluated every person and their luggage as they passed me by...no one seemed to have packed snacks- in what world is that normal?! I did note a pungent aroma of what I can only describe as the type of ‘cologne’ Snoop Dogg wears, and said a silent prayer that maybe, just maybe the contact-cologne would calm my nerves? 

“Welcome...it will be a short, straight, nonstop trip to NYC this evening. Bathrooms are in the back...LIQUIDS ONLY. Absolutely NO shitting on the bus. Ain’t nobody want to smell that for 6 hours. Thank you.”

No shit. Got it. For some reason, this made me feel more comfortable...or was that the cologne?

We all drifted in between slumber and reality on the bus ride. Before we knew it, the announcement boomed over the loudspeaker that we would be arriving in the city in just a few minutes. 

Almost an hour early...homeboy was booking it. #nostopstilbrooklyn

We were all so excited. I had the same feeling I did on my first visit to NYC...the excitement of the lights- the fast pace- the city that never sleeps. Ah New York- you and I have an abusive relationship...and this morning, we are in the honeymoon phase of intrigue. 

We got off the bus...and realized it was 5am and we had nowhere to be until 7am. I decided it may be a decent time to give everyone (namely the two tiny folks with no filters) a brief peptalk.

“Okay...we will see things in the city that we don’t see at home. Homeless people...different looking people...and we don’t ever want to point- or say what we might think. We are not in Kansas anymore, Toto.”

Thirty seconds later.

“Do you think we will get mugged!?!?!”

Apparently I wasn’t quite specific enough. #theaterkidshavenofilter #theyalsocantwhisper

We walk up the block as I try to get my New York bearings. We all had to use the facilities and desperately needed to brush our teeth. Starbucks? Closed until 6. 7-11? Open, no bathroom...and a rude clerk. (Oh NYC, I took that first slap like a champ.) Port Authority? Port Authority! 

“Perfect, it’s open...they have big bathrooms and lots of police!” I said, to a small audience of deer, appearing to look directly into headlights.

We freshened up with New York’s finest (and several homeless folks) and hiked off to the Today Show! The girls were excited to see just about everything that everyone else who was standing outside 30 Rockefellar Plaza couldn’t give two hoots about. Production, stage hands, management, all the workers that put in time to make the show happen...you guys, when asked if they wanted to be on TV, they shrugged. They soaked up every bit of information they could, like they were studying for finals. 
Little Miss is well-versed in city life...or perhaps moreso, tech-life. I suppose most young-folks are more tech-savvy than the fossils they call parents. Following our visit at The Today Show, we planned to head to Brooklyn to visit Bobbie and drop off our luggage. (Bobbie - AKA: Little Miss’s grandmother; our host for the weekend; my Jewish Mama; Bub’s counterpart)

“Mom...we can just get an Uber,” Little Miss says, with such duh in her voice that my nostrils flared and ears pinned like the stubborn mare I am.

I handed her my phone and asked her to speak Uber to it because I was certainly not understanding this gibberish she was speaking. A few seconds later, the phone dinged that our Uber had arrived! Before we knew it...we were off to Brooklyn and our driver was telling me/us his life story- and I shared bits of ours. He took us on the Brooklyn bridge so the girls could see the skyline behind us, pointed out the Lady Liberty across the Hudson, and graciously joined us for a photo upon delivery to Brooklyn. 

{Walking into Bobbie’s building sent me into time-travel- it was November 1, 2006 and I was walking into those doors carrying a carseat with a two-day-old Little Miss...the buzzer rang and I was immediately embraced and brought back into reality.}

The amount of food set out for us would’ve easily fed an army. We ate, visited, and then were back off to the city to meet with friends/family from The Lost Colony. Something I’ve learned while being a bit of a theater-hanger-on is once you’ve performed with someone for several months- in the middle of the hottest part of the summer, dodging everything from mosquitos to lightening bolts...you are family and I’m so thankful for that. Once again, laughs and memories were shared while we toured Madame Tussaud’s, Bryant Park, and again...every Starbuck’s in between right up until the big moment…

Mean Girls

Little Miss has talked about seeing this show for years...and it was finally showtime. Watching the look on the girls’ faces was absolutely priceless. The show was incredible...like...I have no words to describe how freaking amazing this show was- that kind of incredible. We were able to meet most of the cast after the show- which again, was priceless.

On our second (and last) day in the city, we hit Chinatown, Little Italy, the Friends apartment...and most memorable, the 9/11 memorial. 

When I lived in NYC, the WTC area was still rubble...and was only described as Ground Zero. It was a very emotional hour spent walking around the memorial, reading the names of those who lost their lives that September morning, and observing others doing the same. I watched as a small child clutched an American flag, while standing in front of the ‘Survivor Tree’ as tears ran down my face. The entire area was almost completely silent in a city of sirens and horns. 

Waitress was next up on our Broadway list...and it did not disappoint. Once again, a fellow Colony member had ties to Waitress, as Andy Griffith portrayed the diner’s owner in the movie. Post-show, we stood outside in the sideways rain to meet the cast...and again, it was priceless.

The next day we were up early to catch our southbound bus home. We reflected on our trip the entire way back- along with a sprinkle of gossip here and there. We met those seated around us and shared laughs when they heard of our red-eye trip north. It was truly one of the most memorable trips...with the most special people. (Seriously, it takes a special bond to be able to travel together, ladies. We freaking rocked it.)

I would do it again...the exact same way...in a New York minute.

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