It’s 12:27pm Eastern time and 8-year-old Jack and I are hanging out at Gate D6 in LaGuardia Airport in Queens. We drove down Sunken Meadow Parkway from Ft. Salonga Road and then took the Northern State Parkway all the way to Grand Central Parkway and then got off at 94th St. I couldn’t see the sign for Alamo Rent-a-car but Jack could.
“Right there, Uncle Jim. Alamo.”
“Turn left now and it’s right there next to National.”
So that’s what it’s come to. I’m led around New York City by an 8-year-old....
There was absolutely no traffic. None. Perhaps that’s because I used the Google maps for directions, and since it’s satellite-based it routed us around 495, where there was an accident.
How do I know this? Because like you I listen to AM radio in rental cars in foreign cities. I listened to 1010 WINS all the way across Long Island. The station is celebrating 50 years of all news, all the time. Lots of weather, sports, traffic, quick-hitting news stories. It’s a lot like WBBM 780 in Chicago, but like everything in New York, 1010 WINS moves just a little bit quicker than its Chicago counterpart, BBM.
I had to stop typing. I just had bought Jack a cup full of Auntie Anne pretzels and he wants to show me something.
“Look how much grease there is.” And he pressed his index finger on a napkin to leave a big grease smudge. I hope like hell he doesn’t tell him mom the story he’s been telling our East coast relatives all weekend about me nearly losing him in Ohare. That would be a bad story to tell my sister. She just wouldn’t understand that I have eyes in back of my head.
It’s time to head back to Chicago, and I am glad for that. Debbie and Ryan and others at the station have emailed me or texted me with some thing or another… but on the whole the station’s still on the air. That’s the best you can hope for when you’re a local radio guy and you go away for a few days to the Big Apple to see your daughter and your sister and her family.
“That’s so nice. It’s a good paragraph.” Jack’s watching me write my blog and commenting as we move along. I don’t know why but for some reason I’m okay with that.
Last night, I drove Jeanie back to the city down 495 to where she lives at Hunter’s Point in the big apartment buildings next to the Pepsi sign along the Hudson. We talked down Sunken Meadow and Northern State Parkway and then the 495. There was some traffic but if you don’t tell anyone I’ll tell you that I was secretly a little glad that there was traffic so I could get that much more time with my 23-year-old daughter. Jeanie lived with us until she was 18, spent four years splitting time at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and our home, and then picked up and moved to New York City with her boyfriend. Oh well. If I told you right now that I wasn’t ripping apart inside at having to say goodbye to her in a high-rise lobby and then having to say goodbye to my three nieces and nephews this morning… then I’d be lying. It’s not easy, and if it wasn’t for smartass little Jack reading every word that I’m writing, I’d probably tear up a little at Gate D6 in LaGuardia Airport.
Jeanie and I stopped at Cyclo, a Vietnames restaurant in Long Island City a, couple blocks from her high-rise. Jeanie got veggies and noodles – something called “Foh”- and I got tilapia curry over rice. When the bill came, it said, $23.59. I thought there was some mistake.
“Jeanie, if your plate was 40 bucks, and mine 32, how could the total be $23.59?”
“Dad. You really need to get glasses.”
Yep. Hers was 10 bucks. I read it on the menu as 40. And mine was 12 bucks, which of course I read as 32. I need glasses and a hearing aid and I refuse both. It’s just the way of an aging, stubborn, slightly overweight radio guy in middle America.
No wait. I’m not in middle America. I’m at Gate D6 in LaGuardia Airport in New York City. And how about this for irony? The television above our heads is on CNN. The woman host is talking about the threat of terrorism to Americans. Remember, a month ago terrorists shot down a commercial jetliner in Egypt, killing like 275 people. And last week terrorists shot and bombed their way through Paris, killing 132. A former general in the Army just said on CNN – We may never, in our lifetimes, feel as secure in the air as we once did. I won’t blog too far into this topic. An 8-year-old is reading every word I type.
Anyways, I hugged Jeanie twice, maybe a third time, and the dad in me has felt this missing piece for the last 14 hours or so. It is the story of the young daughter leaving home and going to New York City in the 21st century. Time to board American Airlines flight 347 from LaGuardia to Ohare.