Just leading up to the trip itself was an exercise in stress management. It was the week before spring break, and I had to get special permission from the superintendent to miss the last two days before the break. Plus I was in charge of the yearbook, and there was a set of proofs that had, had, HAD to go back to the publisher before we left. Oh, and I was supposed to be ... teaching.
I didn't even get finished packing. We were leaving from Sweet Girl's school at 5:00 PM on a Wednesday, and at 3:30 I was still at MY school, trying to finish up the yearbook proofs. Sweet Girl called me, detected the stress/panic in my voice, and offered to finish packing for me. She's awesome that way. I think she was motivated by the abject embarrassment she would have felt if WE had been the reason the charter buses didn't roll out when they were supposed to. She's always believed in being EARLY for everything, a characteristic that I admire and envy. [I'm early for things like gymnastics meets and concerts, but rarely for school.]
Band kids are among the best high school students in the world, so I wasn't stressed at all about the trip itself. Plus I had about 18 hours on the bus to sleep.
Sometime in the night, I realized that nowhere in my suitcase was there a pair of dress shoes. Dress? Check. Pantyhose? Check. Evening wrap? Check. Shoes?
The first thing on our itinerary upon arriving in NYC was going to a show.
The last thing they said to us on the bus was for NO ONE to go ANYWHERE alone.
I checked Sweet Girl and her buddies into their rooms and told them I would be right back. Actually, I begged Sweet Girl to go with me, but she wasn't interested. So I went trudging up Madison Avenue in my soccer sandals and socks, the comfy sweat pants I had worn on the bus, and a less-than-adequate sweater.
Come to think of it, I think I know now why Sweet Girl wasn't interested in going with me.
I made it to the nearest shoe store and back without incident, amazing enough considering my severe directional handicap.
We walked several blocks to the show. Remember that these are new shoes? New DRESS shoes? Not terribly high heels, but not sneakers either.
It was early evening, and the first cardboard boxes were being erected for the night. I averted my eyes, lest I cause one of the homeless people any embarrassment. Suddenly I heard, "I saw a bum! I saw a bum! I've got to go tell Emily that I saw a bum!!!"
That was one of the chaperons. I wanted to slug her.
We saw Phantom of the Opera, we toured the Empire State Building, we discouraged the teenagers from hiring a limo.
The night of the band's performance, the chaperons were ushered in a back door with the band members, and then we went out front. I was almost overcome with emotion, looking around and thinking, "Good Lord. This is CARNEGIE HALL." I mean, Billy Joel had breathed air in that same structure. Granted, the air he breathed was
We took a walking tour of NYC. This was just six months after 9/11, and it was a very emotional tour. We stood at the fence around Ground Zero and saw the many stuffed animals, pictures, and flowers people had left at the makeshift memorial. We took the ferry over to the Statue of Liberty, but of course they weren't allowing people onto the island at that point, so we only got to look at it from the ferry. Our tour guide was an actress who served as a tour guide to supplement her income. She said she was in For Love of the Game and she played a sort of bitchy character, but I'd never seen the movie so I didn't recognize her. I still haven't seen it.
We missed our scheduled trip to Central Park due to a mix-up with the bus drivers, along with a visit to the American Museum of Natural History. Bummer. I wanted the students to see the enormous size of Central Park, because I'm sure they had a little country park pictured.
After the Carnegie Hall performance, the band director said the students didn't have to be in by curfew, as long as they were with a chaperon. I asked my little group (Sweet Girl and 4 others) what they wanted to do, and they said they wanted to walk up to Central Park.
At 10:00 PM. On a Friday night.
It was the only time I told them "no" the whole trip. I heard that some of the other chaperons made the kids stay in the hotel because they didn't want to go anywhere, or they were afraid of venturing out. We went to Times Square several times, rode the ferris wheel inside Toys R Us, and had a ball. I figured it was their trip, so I wanted them to have as much fun as they possibly could in those few days. I hated it that the other chaperons were such sticks in the mud.
But walking to Central Park at 10:00 PM on a Friday night?
Sorry, kids, no can do.
So we went to McDonald's in Times Square instead. Even there I didn't feel completely comfortable.
On the way up there, I called Hubby from somewhere in New Jersey. We could see the New York City skyline from where we stopped, but it was time for the drivers to take their hour break. I remember telling Hubby's voicemail, "Hell is not a place. It's a bus ride."
I've told Sullen Teenager that I will take her to NYC when she graduates from high school. It'll be here before we know it. But I'm making her mama go too. And possibly Hubby. I don't want to press my luck, chaperoning teenagers in the big city. I hope the Naked Cowboy is still there.