The trip could not have come at a better time since, as I told you last time, I felt like I was suffocating in Jamaica. So it was that on a Wednesday night in late June, I headed for the airport with a sense of relief; I felt like I was gasping for air and my next breath was finally within my reach. I had booked myself on a direct overnight flight because I love those – I feel like I don’t lose any time since I get to spend the entire day at my departure point and the entire next day at my destination. I get the best of both worlds by not losing any non-sleeping time at either end of my journey.
I arrived in New York at around 8 am on Thursday morning and breezed through immigration and customs; I was literally standing on the curb waiting for my aunt to pick me up less than thirty minutes after the plane touched down. First time that ever happened to me in the US. But anyway, I digress.
As soon as I got to Auntie’s house, I ate some breakfast and did a quick pulling together of myself to hit the street. I was on a tight timeline because I had errands to run that day before we needed to leave for New Jersey mid-afternoon. I had two things to accomplish in those few hours. First, I needed to stop at a particular mall to scope out the stores there because I needed to get some new work clothes. Having given away most of my clothes and shoes over the previous two years and being left mostly with business dresses (which won’t cut it in Yakutsk) and no work-appropriate shoes, I needed to do a re-stocking of some basic items. I had no intention of shopping that day because I knew I wouldn’t have the time to spend on making the right selections, and I hate rush shopping. But my reconnaissance mission was a success, mainly because I discovered a Uniqlo right there in the mall in Brooklyn. Remember Uniqlo, which yielded me my best pair of shorts ever? I did an internal happy dance when I saw it.
The second thing on my agenda for that day was a visit to my eye doctor. It had been five months since my surgery and I needed to have my eyes checked before leaving for Siberia. This trip was as good a time as any to get that done because it meant I wouldn’t have to stop over in New York to do it on my way to Russia.
After I was finished scoping things out at the mall, I hopped back on the subway and made my way to the Upper East Side of Manhattan. My eyes were checked over and I was declared all healed up and still seeing better than 20/20. By that time I was walking on air again. Life was great: I was on a trip (that alone is walk-on-air worthy), my chosen mall was promising for my shopping needs which meant I didn’t need to go far and wide to get what I was looking for, and I got good news at the eye doctor. I think I practically skipped back to the subway from my eye doctor’s office.
I made it back to Auntie’s house with a few minutes to spare and we loaded into the car for the journey to New Jersey, where we would spend the next two days. The wedding was the next day, Friday, and we would return to Brooklyn on Saturday. We managed to leave just ahead of the really bad traffic, I think, but we still got stuck in some and it ended up taking almost three hours to get to our destination. We arrived too late for the rehearsal but we still saw everybody and that was the important thing for me.
Most of our small contingent weren’t staying at the hotel where the wedding was taking place so after hanging out for a while, we bade the others farewell and made for our hotel, which was less than ten minutes away but which turned out to be worlds away in terms of quality. Having lived through all manner of things in Indonesia last year, I wasn’t fazed by the facilities (although I didn’t give them a good review because, really, they should do better than that) but Auntie and her cousin were comically traumatised. I’m not gonna lie, it got pretty hilarious a few times and I freely admit that I had a laugh or two at their expense. Like when we woke up on Friday morning and Auntie’s cousin whispered to me, “Kris, you awake? LORD JESUS, WE MEK IT!!!” I gave a shout of laughter and asked if she had expected someone to kick down the door and murder us in our sleep. She said she barely slept all night; I slept like a baby.
Meanwhile, the wedding was absolutely beautiful and my cousin was gorgeous. Cuz and her new husband had a great time and we all ended up dancing up a storm pretty late into the night.
On Saturday, after lunch and a stop at Wal-Mart, we made the trek back to Brooklyn and arrived in the early evening. Then I finally opened my loot from Amazon that I had ordered for Siberia, including my new, heavy coat. Most of the stuff I ordered were perfect but I had to send a couple of items back.
So on Sunday morning, I headed off to my chosen mall, where I spent most of the day getting my shopping done. On Monday I spent the morning waiting for the UPS guy to collect my Amazon returns then I hit up Target and Barnes & Noble (I restrained myself and only picked up a logic puzzle book and another book for a friend). On Tuesday evening I went to church with Auntie and on Wednesday morning I headed to Jersey City to meet my high school friend for lunch. I ended up spending an extra two hours after my friend went back to work just sitting on the pier and soaking in the beautiful atmosphere while finally starting to read my Russian language book that I had ordered.
Eventually, I made my way back to Brooklyn, where I met Auntie at church again. Then I was off on the next leg of my trip early on Thursday morning. I had a date to keep with A.