Four years ago, I fell in love with New York City. Last November, I broke it off.
You see, exactly one year ago, my husband ran the New York City Marathon. My son Kyle and I were so determined to cheer on (in our opinion, anyway) the 2006 race’s most important runner, that we braved a sea of some two million spectators in our show of support.
I assumed my then six-year-old and I were about to embark on a similarly grand time to one Kerry and I had in 2003.
I assumed incorrectly. While Daddy fought pre-race jitters, Kyle and I fought the city, literally. In Kyle’s first authentic New York experience, he and I entered a very crowded deli for some bagels. As we sheepishly inched forward an elderly woman stepped in front of me.
“You in line?” she hissed.
“Um, yes,” I said, smiling nervously.
“Then move!” she spat back.
“Mom, she is NOT nice,” Kyle “whispered” in a tone audible enough for the road workers on 72nd to hear over the sound of their jackhammers.
“Oh, kids!” I said, trying to slay her evil glare with a sword of proverbial kindness. Instead, she bopped us with her tail, er, purse.
I began to see my boyfriend’s flaws.
Next we grabbed a taxi to try rendezvousing with Daddy at mile marker 16. I asked the driver if he could get us as close as possible to the corner of 1st Avenue and – – um, sumthin’.
“Where you want to go?” he asked irritatedly.
“Uh, well, I’ve got a little map here,” I said, whipping out a diagram I’d torn out of the Daily News. “See? It’s, um, here,” I said, using one hand to try and pinpoint my desired destination and the other to fight with a bored Kyle to keep hold of it.
“You don’t know name of other street?” he asked, clearly even more agitated.
“Well, uh, not exactly, sorry,” I said, trying that kindness thing again.
Dead silence was shattered only by ill-timed blunt first-grader honesty. “Mommy, what is that thing on her head and why won’t she talk to us?” came the quizzical comments about our decidedly male driver‘s turban.
I wasn’t surprised when our ride came to an abrupt halt a few blocks sooner than necessary.
Hmph, I stopped taking my beau’s calls.
The nastiness at mile 16 was a mob scene: eight people deep and worse than any mosh pit I could have imagined. Kyle was stepped on four times in five seconds. Angry onlookers shoved incessantly, so I stood squished, scared and tippy-toed for 95 minutes, swapping Kyle back and forth on my hip.
After realizing we’d missed Daddy, we wiggled our way out like slowly unscrewed wine corks — but not before some guy screamed something at me in French that I believe was not, “It was lovely to have met you.”
More defeat came as finishers got swallowed up into a Central Park crowd of several hundred thousand.
Right then I threw a glass of water in the Big Apple’s face.
Finally reuniting with Daddy in our hotel, we shared a family hug — and stories about my former flame. I was miffed, though my boys were willing to give him a second chance.
The next day, they took a celebratory trip to FAO Schwarz while I did my own 10-miler in Central Park. “Man, even the birds have attitudes here,” I thought after playing — and losing — a game of “Chicken” with a NYC pigeon.
But, as I watched tiny gray squirrels frolicking, businesswomen power-walking in eight-inch stilettos and dog-walkers chatting in Portuguese, Italian, and Arabic, my cold shoulder warmed.
Puffing through the gorgeous maze of paths in The Ramble and seeing the sun dance off The Reservoir’s placid surface, which was draped by the majestic asphalt jungle, reminded me why I had originally fallen for the city. Hmm.
Well, maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on New Yorkers; they’re probably just cranky from paying $8.50 for a tiny latte that they waited six hours in line to get.
With my heart melting, I stopped off for a final NYC soft pretzel.
“One please,” I smiled to the vendor, who replied, “You are so sweet; too nice for the city.”
Realizing he was wrong, I plopped my “I heart NY” ball cap back on.