New York is too Crowded

Empire State Building as seen from Top of the Rock
Empire State Building as seen from Top of the Rock (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Week-Long Trip…a New York Minute

Stephanie all set to take off 08/2011
Stephanie all set to take off 08/2011

Stephanie’s 2011 summer vacation from school was three months long but a respite from those lazy, hazy days of summer was a week-long stay in New York with her mom. Stephanie’s exciting trip began at the Twin Cities International Airport when she saw

Wide-eyed wonder with her mom.
Wide-eyed wonder with her mom.

her mom for the first time in three years.  Each day thereafter was filled with something new and exciting for the entire week! The picture-taking didn’t begin until they boarded the plane and got in their seats, but then, it was ceaseless according to Stephanie.  (Stephanie complained to me later that her mom even took her picture while she slept.)

Paz, (Stephanie’s mom) was trying to make up for her previous three years.  I understood Paz wanting to indulge her daughter in every way because that was only natural (“Make up for lost time,” as they say).  Paz lives in the Bronx and is near the ocean. 

Here come the waves...
Here come the waves…

Swimming is Steph’s favorite pastime and the little water bug couldn’t wait to sample swimming in the ocean!  Naturally, one of the first things done was a walk to see it. Paz would remark to me later, “She is like a mermaid; she loves the water!” 

That water was salty, Dad!
That water was salty, Dad!

They settled in and became familiar to each other again (I think), they got a restful night’s sleep so to be prepared for the following day of seeing NYC.

Times Square, the Empire State Building and the Wall Street Bull would fill up the first day.  Stephanie spoke astonishingly to me

Foot traffic slowed some, at last!
Foot traffic slowed some, at last!

about a man in “umbrella pants.” The guy was /dressed that way for one of the many plays in the area.  Recalled with much less fondness was not being able to walk without being bumped into.  I could envision little Stephanie being bounced here and there like a pinball that gets knocked into the target pins, although, there was no target nor were there winners. 

Empire State these buildings are really tall!
Empire State Building…wow these buildings are really tall!

She recalled with clear detail that, “New York was really crowded Dad.  People would just bump into you and not say anything and when they knocked into you, you’d bounce off him/her into somebody else and just go like that down the street; I don’t want to live there!  But me and mom had a great time visiting the Empire State Building; it’s so high up!  We looked out the window and could see all over the place, all the way to the statue of Liberty!  And that’s where we’re going tomorrow,” Stephanie said with excitement! 

Stephanie at the  Statue of Liberty
Stephanie at the Statue of Liberty

 Stephanie phoned me nightly to let me know how things were going and they were going well.  It had been three nights.

Then, the fourth evening arrived… I received a call from Stephanie’s mom first and she was telling me how Stephanie just kept sobbing constantly and needed to talk to me.  It was during a bus trip to Niagara Falls.

Stephanie was homesick, I told her mom.  Paz said that she would have her call me in a few minutes; “So be sure to pick up the phone. She won’t stop crying,” her mom said. 

I heard her gasp for air and sob and gasp and sob, and then a gulp and a final sob.   I told a joke about me and her sobs turned to laughter and then I asked, “Did you forget Animal Jam?” I had told her before she left for the megalopolis that we could stay in touch that way because it was an Internet game that we could play together no matter the distance.  We used to play it occasionally when she was upstairs at our townhouse and I was down.  The only difference I explained is that, “Now you are in New York and I’m at home in Minnesota, but we can play just the same, I love you and don’t forget their Instant Messaging.” She would be able to keep in touch that way, “Call me each night and I’ll say prayers with you.” I yearned for her as well because we had never been separated from each other since her birth.   

Stephanie spent two weeks at two different hospitals, Doctor’s Hospital shortly after her birth for four days until Steph was strong enough to suck from a bottle so as to gain strength, then she was released.  A few days after that it was decided that she needed a total blood transfusion because she once again became weak and her skin turned a pale yellow.  This time we got her into a supposedly more advanced hospital, ICMC, in the same city of Balanga,  Bataan, of the Philippines.  Steph was in a private room for ten days at that town’s newest hospital.  Even during her total blood transfusion  I stayed with her constantly and continuously.  Her yellow jaundice was next and we, Paz, Stephanie and myself made many trips to the nearby clinic and a few visits to St. Luke’s Hospital in Manila, across the bay.

Stephanie then called, and I mentioned to her how,  “Long bus rides always make me sad too, but you are on your way to – NIAGARA FALLS! 

Always wet from the mist of the falls.
Always wet from the mist of the falls.

“Do you remember one of your favorite cartoons, The Little Einstien’s and their trip to the falls?  You will have so much fun Steph.  You’re probably just tired now because you two have been busy seeing many sites.  Try to get a little sleep because when you’re tired things bother you.”

I kept the conversation light and positive.   The truth was that I missed her just as badly – if not a whole lot more than she missed me.  The Aries Lady a girl friend of mine gave me a nickname of, MO/DA, (Mom and Dad) because of my constant worrying. 

Paz called me back to say, “Thank you.”

“Mom even took a picture of me when I was sleeping,” Steph told me when she returned home. 

Stephanie’s mother is to be commended for showing Stephanie all that she did and for allowing Steph to experience things such as the subway (took her in early morning hours) and the ocean.

I think she was ready for the more lax lifestyle of home.  Her mom even told me on the last day,  “I think we did too much,” and I agreed.

“Yeah that was too much to try and fit into one week,” I replied, “but you guys did it and had a great time, right?”

NYC view from, Statue of Liberty, ferry.
NYC view from, Statue of Liberty, ferry.

Steve Richie

Hi folks, Two lives in one lifetime. The first me, lived to age thirty-four. That Steve was overly confident and oozing with pride. Then, on a record heat-setting day (107º) here in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota and western Wisconsin, a one car near-fatal wreck left me in a two-month long coma. I emerged much as I was before minus certain physical capabilities, but my mind seemed mostly in tact. The crash and its effects did not change me (I emerged a happy individual) but the deeds perpetrated against me in the ensuing months from my wife of sixteen years scared and humbled me as I was dragged down with nothing left by my wife who now had guardianship over all of our accounts. And neither would she allow me to see our kids. She took everything out of, "Our" names and changed them to her name only; then would not allow me to our home and divorced me. I was angry, but no more. I spent half of 1988 and more than half of 1989 in hospitals, nursing homes and a three month stint at a head-injury rehab center where I was being taught how to re-enter society as this different person, that I didn't know. I was not able to return to my previous line of work, a self-employed decorator, you know, painting and paperhanging. It was a physical job which required much dexterity, finesse, and a good grasp of numbers. I returned to the beginning, school, but on a community college level. One of the instructor's liked my writing and I began focusing my attention on that. I attended classes at, "The Loft," A Place for Writers in Minneapolis. While there, a classmate of mine was having her friend from New York, a CBS executive, to her home for the holidays and asked me if she could do a critique on a couple chapters of a book I was writing, "A Day I'll Never Remember" and I obliged. When she returned to class the following Monday she told me that the exec wanted a ten-page synopsis of the book for a possible movie; I was excited. After obliging for that also, I never saw or heard from her or the guy from CBS. Next thing I knew I was watching a movie called, "Regarding Henry" starring Harrison Ford and the scenes of therapy were exactly like what I went through and had written about. Regarding Henry - could've been my story except that, "Henry" got his head injury from a gunshot and his wife stayed with him throughout the ordeal. Coincidence I'm sure, though, the therapy scenes entailed what I described in the book so I always wondered..... My hope, my dream is to bolster our income for my daughter and for myself. I am and have been raising this beautiful, talented little girl who was diagnosed with autism at age two, since 2006 singlehandedly. I divorced her mother the same year following complaints that I spent too much time with our daughter. However, Stephanie began school with no need for special education. She has been reading since age four and understanding what she'd read. Stephanie maintains straight "A's" on her report card, has published two books (through school) and has been selected as an, "Honors" student for seventh grade English. My ex moved to New York to be closer to her sister and has been remarried now for a number of years. Well, that's only a snippet of my sixty-one years and I would like to thank you for reading, thank you.

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