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Monday, July 22, 2013

Hitting the big apple

This may have been my first venture alone, and by bus to head out into the world, to visit one of my my closest old time college friends.  She moved from Burlington to grad school in Syracuse NY 3 -4 years ago, and after school, moved to Buffalo.  I've been lucky to see her on annual trips back to Vermont, if I'm there, when she is.  Back in college, I took a year off to work abroad  for an an coming British Eventer,(professional horse back rider).  My friendship with Amber, was one of  the biggest reasons why I decided not to try to transfer. I loved UVM, and felt I got a great education there,  but it rarely felt like the right match for me.  I seemed to do, or run more activities, while trying to do recreational sports abound, and hold a job.  Oh, and attend classes, I went to those too.  Beyond those things,  Amber was also my partner in crime, in the nightlife scene of little Burlington.  I think independent of each other, each us may have lead led more wholesome college careers, but together, as we often were, things had a tendency to get somewhat rridiculous.  We bonded over sharing being only children, with unique family situations.  We were good in the best of times, and the worst of times.  When I suffered this injury, she helped begin the fundraising initiative, 'Support for Courtney' and brought people together, to start getting people into action, for a unique assortment of fundraisers, and social gatherings.  The idea took off, and other friends joined.  That money was extraordinarily helpful, and went towards hyperbaric therapies, and supplemental Physical therapy, majorly.  I will forever be indebted to her, and all the incredible friends that came together, to come to my assistance, when I needed them the most.  The idea took off incredibly well, given the time frame.  More, and more friends joined in, taking on more projects, of various sorts. I will be forever indebted to this group of amazingfriends.

Now that she's moved to NYC, I knew I could   get there pretty easily, as direct buses run everyday.  We planned a weekend, and her boyfriend, Kieth, met me at the bus stop, and took me on an underground tour, as he navigated us back to Sunnyside, the area they live in.  I love visiting the city, but I don't know if I could survive there, everything moves so fast, whereas, I do not.

We made it to their apartment, which was a great size, considering it was a one bedroom.  They had a lot more space than I'd expected.  Also, they have 3 kitties, 2 of which are constantly underfoot.  The main reason I'd gone down, was a) to reconnect with them, but also b) for a kind of housewarming party, on Saturday.

That evening when Amber returned, we jumped into devising plans for the evening, and ended up meeting another UVM friend, Chris, who just finished his law degree, and was leaving the city soon.  We all used to be very close, so it was really fun to all have an evening out, like old times!  Even if going out for drinks now means I can only tolerate a half pint glass of beer, and then water.  After 3 hours of yelling conversation, and catching up, we all went for diinner,  and the recollections from 'back in the day' continued.  Eventually we all had to part ways, but that night was amazing, as it felt like nothing had changed, and I was 22 again.  I know that many people are glad those days are behind then, as everything was so uncertain, but I got stuck on the edge of uncertainty, for all of eternity, at least that's how it feels.

The next morning we piled into the car, with a plan to go to Ambers bank, and then MOMA. (Museum ofetroplitan Art). We hit the bank, and then a convienience store, because I forgot my toothbrush, yuck!  It was a very unique experience, riding in a car, in the city.  In the 4-5 times I've been there, I've always used the subway, to go everywhere.  It was really amazing to see so much of the city.  Kieth dropped us off at the museum, and we waited for him to park.  Unfortunately there was no on street parking, due to a parade, so it took a long time.  In the time waited, Amber was sold on a membership, which seems like a great deal if you plan to visit often.  Art, and culture is  so foreign to my life these days, I could've spent 3 days in there.  It's so amazing to view hand made creations from so many  different eras.  

After MOMA, we relaxed by an urban waterfall, in the shade.  It was a unique concept, and a nice spot to duck into, away from the noisy street.  From there, we piled back in the car, for our next stop, the 9/11 memorial.  Amber is a landscape architect, by trade, so this exhit has been on her must see list, as well.  Again, parking, and finding the site, was more difficult than anticipated.  It was strange how the actual site was so unclear.  Kieth dropped us off where the GPS said it was, and then we relied on the kindness of the people we asked for the nex 3 blocks, to get there. And then, it was a 45 minute wait.  You have to wait or everything there, I felt I'vebecome very impatient, because, with the amount of waiting you  do,  sorting your pans around  the amount of  time you have to wait,  foreign.  Thankfully, it wasn't too long, and we had to wait anyways, for Keith to join us.  Once we we were all together, it took maybe 10 minutes.  And then we had to wind our way through  long and narrow walkways, through security, like at the airport.  I take a long time to get through those machines, but it went more quickly with their help.  Finally we were able to walk into the memorial area.  The property is sparse, and  open, but enclosed by building on every side side. The foundations of each building were transformed into  4 walls of water, collecting, and recirculating at the bottom in a pool.  The outside edges of each memorial, has names of the lives taken in the attacks. It was a very sombre and morose experience.  It brought me back to my 17th birthday. Being ushered back to home room, from a science class, and neing informed our country was under attack.  We were released early from school, but none of us felt like celebrating, so we just hung out, and talked  about loved ones, or people we knew in the city.  I realized I had blocked a lot of the day out, because there was so much distress.  It took me along time to dig up memories from that day.  There was surpringly little landscaping, other than rock gardens, and shrubbery.  Though, the memorial was a beautiful symbol, and testament to the impact of those events.  

Afterwards, we bee lined back to their apartment, as the housewarming party was that evening.  2 of Ambers close high school friends, Marcy, and Rachel came over also.  It was great to reconnect with them as well.  I got to hear all about what they're doing these days, and a out the men in their lives.  I love to reconnect with old friends, but it can be hard sometimes, as they've all gone back to school, or found  real jobs, or just had tons of life experience by this point in their lives.  I mean, we're all different, but I literally don't know a soul with experiences like mine.  That's a great thing, but often it makes it harder to relate to one another.  And, clearly, it makes me envious, becaus with, or without a brain injury, I am so not where I thought I'd be by now.  I never had exact predictions, but living off state funds, fighting my way through a seemingly endless rehab program, is something you never see,  in your minds eye.  But, at least I can still be happy  for my friends accomplishments, as I know they are for mine.

The next morning was my last, but Amber and Kieths work plans had changed, so they left at 4 am, and we tiredly mumbled our goodbyes, and I fell back asleep.  I awoke again around 8, and foraged for breakfast foods, and coffee.  I ate my leftovers from a diiner, found a banana, and waited for the caffeine to take effect.  Then I got ready for the day, packed my things, and excitedly wailed  for my friend Megan to arrive.  She just finished grad school, at NYU, and I hadn't seen her in 2 years, but was so thankful her Monday was free, so that we could catch up.  In college, she dated a friend of mine from the outing club.  I also lived in her house, the semester she studied abroad.  She was kind enough to offer me shelter for graduation too, as I'd just returned from studying abroad.  I have the most amazing friends, and this trip made see that again, which I desperately needed!  It's been pretty difficult to keep up with so many people, unless they contact me.  6 years is a long time to pass before I realize how many friendships I haven't been able to eep up with.

Megan and  I decided to check out high line park, which is elevated, and built on an old, no longer used, elevated rail line, that features views of the Harbor, and far off islands.  The landscaping is gorgeous, and it was mild 75 degree day, at least that morning.  We then headed off to lunch, and our last stop, The Museum of Natural History.  

This was my 3rd trip to NYC.  The first trip, was a high school trip, and  we saw three broadway shows, AMF a holiday themed show with the Rockettes.  Amazing trip, but we pretty much only saw broadway.  The second trip, I came down with Sean to visit my stepsister Marcia, and her husband Derek, before they moved back to Maine.  I remember how badly I wanted to vist them, but I only rember going to Cony Island for hot dogs, and seeing Rock of Ages, off Broadway.  We had a lot of fun, but it was so early in my injury, that my memory of that trip is a bit fuzzy.  I've never had the opportunity to do a lot of sight seeing, like on this trip, but what an amazing city, even if I wouldn't last a day there, on my own.   This trip helped appreciate, and realize again how fortunate I am to have my life be touched by so many amazing friends.


Dad said...

Thank you for the post! Your friends and your trip are awesome! Never been to MOMA, but love the Natural History one. Spent time as a kid there. Would love to do a road trip with you sometime. :)

Julie/Mom said...

Actually it was your 4th trip to NYC. I took you there when you were around 8. We stayed with Stan and Lili and took the train into the city. Central Park, FAO Schwartz, probably don't remember but we had a blast!
I am so happy you met up with Amber,Chris and Meghan!

Julie/Mom said...

I also would like to add that Amber and friends did an enormous amount of work fundraising and putting together venues,t-shrits,decals and banners etc. for the Support for Courtney fund.
Megan was extremely generous in letting us stay in her beautiful home while Court was in the hospital. We disrupted her life and her roomies too but their hospitality went above and beyond generous! I can't say enough about the friends you have Courtney. They are FANTASTIC!
Love you the most!

Marti said...

I loved reading this account. I agree, you have wicked awesome friends.

One line really stood out for me and helped me to put a new perspective on your life. It was the line where you said you feel stuck at the edge of uncertainty, for all of eternity. I just can't imagine what that must be like. I'm so impressed that you continue to stay up beat and positive. And fun to be around. Also, I wonder if most people your age don't feel that way ( uncertain about what life holds for them).

You have a lot to look forward to!

Love you!

Aunt Marti