Travelogue: Reuniting In Upstate New York
12 August 2014
So, I'm finally getting around to posting more fully about our trip to Syracuse and beyond. We left on 30 July, out of Miami International Airport. The kids haven't flown since January 2007 or so, when we came to, ironically, Ft. Lauderdale from Virginia Beach to see my late gran'pappy. They love flying, theoretically, and so they looked out the windows with eager anticipation.
I wanted to bring a few souvenirs up to New York, so I stopped in the little tienda near our gate in the Delta terminal. I knew I needed some salt water taffy for my BFF, Dr. Lisa, but for my nieces? I had a feeling they might be amused by flamingo/gator/pelican poop, but I passed and settled for a picture. Too silly!
The pilot on our flight to LaGuardia, in NYC, was wicked cool. (I couldn't say the same for one of the flight attendants, who took every opportunity to show us her inner malevolence, for no reason that we could discern.) We were allowed, Jack and I, into the cockpit. Jack should be something to do with planes as an adult; he adores them and is a little obsessed. The captain interacted with him on his level, showing up some of the switches and knobs, and generally lighting up this ordinarily-grumpy little boy's face. It was terribly fun.
We got into Syracuse Hancock Airport at 11:33 PM that Wednesday night. It was just in time to rush over, with Rob in his wheelchair, to the rental car counter to get our vehicle. There had been much concern on my part about that, but we made it! Our rental turned out to be a teensy-weensy Hundai Elantra, which barely seated five people. Half the car was trunk space. Weird. Anyway, we fit, and we rolled out to our nearby hotel to crash for a few hours before heading out early on the 31st.
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We headed that Thursday to my sister's, way out west in Jamestown, by 0900. It was nearly four hours later when we arrived. My nieces, 12-year-old Hanna and 14-year-old Karen, greatly impressed me: they had put on a carnival of sorts, which included a variety of fair-type games, rides on the trampoline, obstacle courses, and more. Entries cost anywhere from tuppence to a dollar each, yet my kids were free. Several neighbor kids had come. The whole thing was put on for our benefit, but to raise money for an animal rehabber. I thought it was absolutely fantastic. What ingenuity they demonstrated!
And then we headed over to Stacey's salon to get our hairs done. All five of us were beneficiary's of Stace's 100%-off family discount. Thanks, sista from the same mista! ;) Jack went first, and he went from cute to simply adorable. For such a grumpy pants, he sure is yummy! ♥
Sophia went next. I had already chopped off her hair the night before we'd left Miami - at her request - but of course my sister needed to touch it up. Sophie also requested pink streaks, so Stacey put some washable ones in there for her. Can you see them? She (and I) loved it! We may do something a little more permanent next time.
Chloë just needed a trim, and I had some shaping done. I should have done a before-and-after of Rob, though, because he went from looking positively homeless to quite dapper under Stacey's careful handiwork.
I think this may be my sister's one and only selfie (ussie?), but I made her. Rarely do I get to be the one in charge, so it surprised me that she agreed, but here we are. You see? We look absolutely nothing alike.
That's my niece, Karen, in the fluorescent yellow kicks. We went over to the girls' soccer game after haircuts to watch them play in the summer recreational league. Jack and Sophie wanted no part of that, so they hung around the nearby playground while Rob, Chlo, my sister, her hubs Michael, and I watched. I took bunches of picture of that, but none up close. My dad keeps kvetching about that. Sorry, Pops! I put my camera away and forgot to take it out again.
Chloë found a four-leaf clover on the soccer field, so natch we had to Instagram that. See her long fingers? She's tiny, so we had to switch from flute to piccolo last year, but I'm thinkin' now would be a good time for those lengthy phlanges to tickle the ivories instead!
Stacey made us a wonderful dinner before taking all of us out for ice cream at the local 50s-style diner. Jack stayed back with Uncle Michael; he doesn't eat much and had had his fill of tween/teen angst for that moment. There certainly was a fair share of that, but as you can tell from this photo, for the most part, these four girls got along swimmingly.
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Friday found me sleeping in 'til the crack of noon; I was exhausted after getting back around 0100 from Jamestown. I didn't do anything until it was time to leave for my 1800 "date" with my Baldwinsville C.W. Baker Class of 1994 cohorts. I met Dr. Lisa and her hubs, Faris, outside the meeting place at the appointed time, and my gosh, you'd think I was going in for a heart transplant, I was so nervous! I'd not brought any anxiety meds with me to New York, so by the time the three of us made our way downstairs to our destination, I was visibly shaking like a leaf. How embarrassing. Oh, and I lost my voice, too; I was, in short, a wreck!
Faris put a glass of wine in my hand, and I calmed almost immediately. The first glass caused me no buzz but settled my nerves greatly, so after an hour or so of chatting and mingling with old friends, I accepted another glass of wine from Faris. And then someone bought me a Cosmopolitan and then... well, by the end of the night I'd been given three more from various classmates.
I had had a blast reconnecting with my peers, and I was thoroughly enjoying my night. So when midnight came around, and my friend Judy removed the last Cosmo from my hand and informed me that I was cut off, I realized I could not possibly get myself back to the hotel. I sheepishly called Faris and Lisa, who'd gone home three hours earlier to relieve their babysitter, and begged a ride. Fortunately, Faris came right out to get me and seemed nonplussed about it. Whew! Good friends, I have.
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On Saturday, we had our actual class reunion across from where we'd had our alumni gathering the previous night. This was a clambake for kids and spouses to join. Here, an "ussie" with Dr. Lisa and Esq. Dominic, another good high school chum.
Another "ussie" with my (obviously much taller) friends from school: Melissa on the left and Beth on the right. Both ladies have a child, a son for M and a daughter for B, and I was quite charmed by both children.
The clambake was a little complicated for me, because of needing to take care of the kids' and Rob's needs as well as visit my friends, so I didn't enjoy myself nearly as much as I had on Friday night. I'm glad I went, of course, but Friday was the better day for me (thanks to that social lubricant, mayhaps?).
Dr. Lisa's adorable daughter, Emilie, and mine, Sophia, showed off the face painter's talents. Pretty good!
Sophia and Emilie really hit it off, as did Jack and Em's brother Jacob. Chloë was kind of odd man out on this occasion, but she didn't seem to mind too much. She was older than the vast majority of kids there; guess Rob and I got started early!
Straight away after the clambake, we headed out west again. This time, we landed in Rochester at the home of my other "bestie," Shana. She and husband Kevin have a lovely, sprawling home that they share there with son Connor and daughter Jaden. The kids played out in the backyard pool for a while, and then they moved inside to the hot tub. Nice, huh?!
After the kids dried up and shared an Indian dinner with Shana's family, a young man whose name escapes me came to watch the chirren while we adults went out to watch Kevin's band play at the bar Daisy Dukes. Here's an "ussie" with Kevin on the drums! Shana totally tried to inveigle me into riding the mechanical bull that night, but I was in a skirt, and there was just no freakin' way. I would have needed to imbibe a hell of a lot more than I did for that to happen! Maybe next time... ;)
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I had mostly paid attention to phenomenally-cute Jaden on Saturday afternoon, but early on Sunday morning I chilled for a few hours with phenomenally-witty Connor. What a card! I'm huge fans of those kids now and considered absconding with them, but I had a feeling Shana and Kevin may not have continued the friendship after that.
Shana and Kevin prepared an awesome breakfast spread Sunday, and we all chowed down. Kevin was off to the races, so I didn't get to talk to him too much, but Shana was all about playing the part of the perfect hostess. I can learn a few things from her. Shana is way more chill and laid-back than I am; she's the B to my A. Love her.
After breakfast, the kids did some more time in the pool and hot tub before Shana got out a ton of artsy-craftsy stuff for the girls and turned on the Wii for the boys who had no interest in such stuff. We did that a while, ate some lunch, and then headed back out to see my sis again.
We ate dinner, dealt with more adolescent angst, and had a photo shoot before heading out east again to our hotel. I'm sure there was more in there, but for some reason I can't remember what it entailed. Maybe because I was running on empty by that point?
We got back to the hotel around 0130, once again, and crashed...
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Monday, our last full day in New York, we had breakfast with la Señora who taught me Spanish in high school. I hadn't seen her since then, and both of us had seen a lot of things change in our lives in the 20 years hence. She, too, put on quite a smorgasbord of deliciousness for us before leading the kids around the house to all her grandkids' toy hiding spots. And then, to my delight, Señora - who is now rightfully Doctora - gave me a plethora of Spanish-language books to further my own as well as the children's progress in that language. Score! I had a great time seeing her and introducing the Odettelettes to her loveliness.
That day was one full of gluttony and piggishness for us. After breakfast, we headed straight for Gino & Joe's, which is only the best pizza place in B'ville. We encountered a lot of bees by that point, so this is Sophia demonstrating out to keep them from going up your nose or in your ears. Hee.
No one met us for lunch, but we missed a couple of people who showed up after we left. Boo... but to my surprise, Andy was still there. He was there when I was in middle school, junior high, high school, and 10 years ago, and he's still at G&J's, making pizzas! Now, that's longevity! (And he looked scarcely a day older, to boot. Tomatoes and mozz must agree with him.)
After lunch, we had some time to kill, so we went nearby to Byrne dairy for ice cream. Only, Rob and I had brought cannoli over from Gino's to enjoy while the kids ate their lunch-dessert. Yes, pigs we were. I must have gained 5 pounds that day alone.
From there, we drove down the road to my missing-in-action friends Stacey K's old house to see her mom. Her family, along with Shana's, had been my oases, my safe havens, during all the tough times growing up at home. Many a time, Mrs. K. picked me up and either brought me to their house or to work, or just came to get me and do whatever it took to get me out of the house. She was a Godsend. But she wasn't home, and I was saddened.
We moved on to my old house in Harbor Heights. I barely recognized the neighborhood! My friend Shannon had told me it was now full of "McMansions," and I could see what she meant. Someone once told me that living in Harbor Heights made us one of the "rich families," but now, for sure, it was definitely true.
We drove down to Shannon's house to see if she was home. Of course, it being a Monday afternoon, she was at work. I left her a present in the outside freezer: Chloë's cup of unfinished ice cream! I told her about it later, over dinner, and she laughed, but I have secretly worried ever since that she was mad. To be fair, I did try to find a garbage can, but I found none and didn't know what else to do with it other than refreeze it! Sorry, Shannon! :\
Eventually, we made our way back to downtown Baldwinsville, which is a much smaller place than it seemed to be 20-30 years ago, for dinner with friends at the Diner. If you ever find yourself there, you must have the gravy fries! I did... well, I had a half-dozen before Oscar, my pouch, called it quits on food for the day. Instead, I visited with pals Melanie S., above, Melissa and her son JV, Shannon, Faris, our fellow alum Kris, and Dr. Lisa's dad and stepmom. (Lisa was, coincidentally, in Orlando for a medical conference.)
What a great time we had. My kids were surprised because I let them each get their own desserts, which is a major eating-out rarity for us. I talked at length with Melissa, which was great, because we bonded more than we ever had two decades prior. And Lisa's 'rents gave me presents: Two soaps he'd made and a lip balm she'd made. I've been using these since then. They're heavenly, full of rich scents and great texture. The soap gives a good lather; you can check them out at Summer Bee Meadow for yourself!
After that, it was time for us to head reluctantly back to the hotel one last time to pack. I went out late and returned the car in a comedy of errors that took me over an hour to get back via shuttle, leaving me just three hours to get a little shut-eye and throw things last-minute into luggage before the long trip home. I don't think we forgot anything?!
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The shuttle brought us to the airport no later than 0400 last Tuesday morning. Talk about tired - and yet, wired. It's hard not to be, even for sleepy times at a sleepier airport, with all the accompanying hustle and bustle.
At the gate, it was hurry up and wait time, as our flight didn't leave until 0600. We made it uneventfully to JFK, and then some serious trouble with getting decent wheelchair service for Rob started. He was treated, from my perspective, like a second-class citizen. He felt like cargo. It was awful. Delta has since responded to this information with a small travel voucher which, I guess, is fine.
And then we were home. The kids were thrilled to be back; I was less so to pay the $114 parking bill at MIA! Eek. Next time, I'm giving a friend the job of dropping us off, whether they like it or not. :P
Hard to believe a week has passed since our return. I'm still feeling like it just happened, this trip, such being the magnitude of its impact on me. Good times, good friends, good memories. Ahhh...