Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Dog Named Buddie

Anyone who reads my blog knows by now that I love animals, both my own and other people’s. While my pets hold a special place in my heart, I have many animal friends, and I am always on the lookout for one who might be my next pal.

New York City is a perfect place to make animal friends, especially dogs. They are everywhere! I see them walking on sidewalks and in parks, traveling through airports and on planes, and waiting patiently while their people enjoy an outdoor restaurant or rest in a park. Whenever I can, I ask permission to pet these wonderful creatures, and more often than not, I am given the all-clear for a pat on the head and sometimes a lick on the face.

This past week, when I was in New York visiting Brian and Roy, I spotted a perfectly adorable little dog while riding the subway. He was nestled in a pet carrier on his owner’s lap, and all I could see were two bright eyes, a long nose, and two of the longest ears I’d ever seen. He and his owner were seated across from Brian and me. After gazing at the pup for a few minutes, noting how calm and content he seemed to be, I pointed him out to Brian, and asked if he thought it would be o.k. for me to take a photo of the little dog. Brian whispered that I’d better not do it without asking permission first. I asked Brian to nudge the man, and after getting his attention, I asked him if I could photograph him and his dog. He said that it would be fine and then inquired if I was using a digital camera. After acknowledging that indeed I was, he pulled out a business card and asked me if I’d email him the photo. I found out that the little fella’s name was Buddie, a name which seemed to fit what I could see of the little guy snuggled up in his carrier.

I watched this duo until they got off of the subway, thinking about master and pet, and imagining this little dog napping on an office floor somewhere while his owner worked. I thought how nice it was to be able to take Buddie to work and for a ride on the subway.

After returning home from my trip, I downloaded my photos from my camera and pulled the man’s business card from my wallet. I wrote him a quick note, attached the photo, and sent it on its way.

As so often in my life, this was not the end of the story. Last night I received an email thanking me for the photo. The content of the message brought tears to my eyes: “Thank you so very much for the photo! Buddie is actually rather sick and hasn't got long to live so the pic meant a lot to me. Hope you enjoyed your time in New York.”

As I look back at that particular subway ride, I am glad that I asked permission to take the photo. It turned out to be much more than a chance encounter. Even though I don’t know Buddie or his owner, I count the little guy as one of my animal friends and he holds a permanent spot in my heart.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

When Panic Strikes

Have you ever done something pretty stupid, something that was based on a state of panic? Afterwards, when everything has returned to normal, you relive the event, and in your mental reenactment, you come up with all kinds of alternative solutions to the now past problem – all those “I should haves.”

This happened to me recently on my trip to New York City. I was traveling on the New York Subway with Brian, Roy, and Roy’s mom, Marta. We were on our way from the boys’ home in Washington Heights to downtown Manhattan to see the movie “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.” When I am with the guys, I count on them to escort me through the subway system and take me to our desired destination without my having to concentrate on where I am or where I am going. Marta, also, is familiar with New York, and she knows her way around the city as well as anyone. I always feel very secure when I am in the company of these two grown men – I know that I am in safe hands. As we headed on our way, I really didn’t know where we were going, the name of the theater, or where in Manhattan it was located.

We got off of the A train to transfer to another train that would take us close to the theater – wherever it was. As our subway approached, Brian alerted me that this was our train, and I stepped up closer to the edge of the platform, so that I could get on quickly when it stopped. Everything was normal – the train stopped, the doors opened, some people got off, and I stepped into the car first. Just as I entered, the door closed, wedging me halfway in and halfway out.

Panic! My first thought was that I was going to be squeezed to death right there in front of my son! My next thought was, which way should I go? If I tried to get inside the car, I’d be separated from the guys and Marta, and I didn’t know where I was or how I would ever find them again. My third thought was to get out of the car! In my panic to get out, I discovered that I couldn’t go in either direction, in or out. Roy was shouting for me to stay inside the car, and with a great effort, I managed to push the door a little and pulled myself free. I stood on the inside of the car looking through the window at them, feeling alone and lost. After what seemed like an eternity, the door opened, and they were able to enter the car with me.

Physically, I was fine. Everyone was asking me if I was o.k. and if I was hurt. I wasn’t. Even though I had been wedged pretty securely, I wasn’t injured, and the only sign of anything happening was a long black strip that went down my shirt and down a leg of my white jeans from the door’s grimy seal, as it had closed against me.

After it was all over, and my heartbeat had returned to a normal rhythm, I realized that I had done a pretty stupid thing in trying to get out of the car. I didn’t stop to think about solutions or alternatives. All I could think about was either being smashed in the door, or being separated from my son in a subway car heading toward who knows where in a city I really know very little about. I wanted out of that car, and in my panic, I could have made things a lot worse than they really were. I thought about the cell phone in my pocket. If we had become separated, all I needed to do was get off at the next stop, call Brian and let him know where I was. I’m sure he could have found me. When all of this was happening, the cell phone never entered my mind.

Now that it is over and a couple of weeks behind me, I can laugh about it, and make fun of myself. But it was pretty scary, and I realized that when something happens that truly causes panic, all good sense flies out the window – or subway door – whatever.

I think I was lucky that day.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A New York Adventure

In my collection of days, it often happens that some days run together and merge into a memory of giant, collage-like, proportions. This happened to me with my trip to New York last week. As I look back at everything that happened to me and around me while I was there visiting Brian, I find it very hard to separate everything to write something legible and interesting.

So, first of all, I’ll chuck the interesting and share some glimpses of the four days that I was there, aiming for the legible and memorable. It might be boring for the reader, but it helps me as I take care of my collection.

It was an amazing collection of days. I arrived at White Plains airport on Friday, with a darling senior citizen gentleman tailing me as we exited the plane, hitting on me all the way. He really was quite cute, but not my type. My eyes were glued in the direction I was headed, searching for Brian. He wasn’t hard to find – it’s a tiny airport, and quite a surprise for someone who is used to the chaos of LaGuardia. It took a total of five minutes for my bag to appear on the belt at baggage claim, and before we knew it, Brian and I were in his car heading toward the city, talking and catching up on anything and everything we could think of to talk about.

It was raining. I was glad that I had an umbrella as we journeyed down to the Village from Brian's apartment to the Fringe Festival headquarters to deposit some postcards of “The Jungle Fun Room.” As always, the subway ride kept me enthralled as I watched people and marveled at New Yorkers, wondering what each one was doing on the subway and wishing I could follow them home to see where they lived. I knew that each one had a story to tell, and I wanted to know it! But back to the rain….. after leaving the subway, we sloshed our way to our destination, dodged oncoming umbrellas, deposited the postcards and pinned a newspaper clipping about the show onto their bulletin board, and picked up some programs and other promo stuff. Stopping for a slice of pizza before subwaying it back to Brian’s place, we took care of our growling stomachs and escaped a downpour. That was the first day.

Saturday welcomed me with sunshine pouring in through the living room windows where I was sacked out on the couch. Thank goodness, the rain was over for awhile. This was the Big Day – the day of the show. A little drama welcomed us as we shook off the cobwebs of our night’s sleep, and listened to the television news reporter telling us that LaGuardia was shut down due to a potential threat. Brian’s friend, Christy, was in Norfolk waiting to board a plane bound for LaGuardia! Since she was the inspiration for one of the characters in the play, and one of Brian’s very special friends, we were on pins and needles, hoping against hope that somehow she’d make it to New York that morning. Fast forward a few hours….. we were waiting in the theater for time to enter, and she hops out of a cab. She made it!

It was an afternoon of reunions, both real and in memories. “Checking In” was a great show, and pulled out memories of friendships and relationships long buried, as everyone in the audience saw themselves in at least one of the characters, laughed, cried, and cheered. After the show, we all convened in a local bar, where the reunion continued. Many of Brian’s friends, several of Roy’s, along with the cast all celebrated the final performance, and partied. This continued into the dinner hour, when a small group of us moved to Brian and Roy’s neighborhood for supper. Of course, there was drama along the way – there always is when a group like this gets together – but the evening ended on a happy note, and we all slept well that night.

Brian had to work on Sunday, and I accompanied him to Marble Collegiate Church for the day, again wading through a New York rain – my feet got soaked. It was fun meeting the people he works with and seeing his day job stomping grounds. I especially enjoyed attending a Bible Study and the 11:00 church service, and wished that I had a church home like that one. Etched into my memory is the beauty of the sanctuary, the magnificent music, an inspiring sermon, and the warm and friendly people. For the sake of brevity, in Forrest Gump style, this is all I have to say about that.

Cocktail hour with neighbors late in the afternoon rounded off the day. I always enjoy meeting Brian and Roy’s friends, as they are so interesting and engaging, and this couple was no exception. And they had a great dog, Valentino – I love the dogs of New York and their cool names!

Harry Potter on Monday at one of New York’s oldest and most beautiful theaters, then a quiet dinner with Brian at a local pub, while Roy drove his mom home to New Jersey. No rain this day, which made it an almost perfect day. Back at home, Brian and I ate cheetos and drank wine until we got sleepy, and called it a day.

White Plains Airport on Tuesday showed me another view of this little airport. It was a zoo – crowded, unorganized, noisy, and fun. It felt more like a train terminal than an airport, and had a party atmosphere. Although everyone was jammed up together, sitting in row after row of terminal seats, trying to understand the blaring loud speaker announcing the flights, everyone seemed to be in good spirits, and took everything with a sense of humor. I was very glad that I had checked my bag and didn’t have to deal with it, but I had a nagging feeling that I might not see it when I reached Atlanta.

Finally home, I grabbed my bag from baggage claim – it arrived on the same plane with me, wonder of wonders! – and thus ended my New York adventure.

There is much more to tell, but it will have to wait for another day.