Very early Wednesday morning my sisters and I met the Keystone 640 in Parkesburg. It was nearly full of commuters but we were fortunate to get seats together. All that changed when the train lost power, eventually stopped just outside of Philadelphia, and was backed into the station.
Luckily a train from Washington was due in soon and we were told to board it to continue our trip to New York. Since this new train was already nearly full when all of the passengers from our broken down train boarded, the train was completely full. We went through car after car trying to find 3 seats at least close together. I spied something even better...three seats that were all together that were nearly free. One of the four seats together was occupied by a sleeping young woman. The seat adjacent to her was occupied by her purse. The seat across from her was occupied by her bare feet. I quickly took the empty seat, just as fast as if I were in the winning round of musical chairs.
I'd hoped that my plopping down would rouse Sleeping Beauty. No such luck. So I leaned over and said (with every bit of assertiveness I could muster) "Miss? The train is full and you need to move your feet from this seat". I could have sworn she twitched. I do think she heard me. I looked up to see that Jennifer found a seat next to a busy commuter click-click-clicking away at her laptop. And Jessica was heading back toward me. She took one look at Sleeping Beauty and then Sleeping Beauty's large purse and she squeezed herself in next to it.
Luckily before we knew it we were approaching the Big City.
We walked from Pennsylvania Station straight to Rockefeller Station to get a peak at the Today's Show. We were just a little late to be included in the televised cheering crowd but we did get to see the tail end of the show first hand.
Afterwards we took a tour of the NBC studios. The tour included the studios of NBC Nightly News, Conan O'Brien and Saturday Night Live. The most remarkable thing about these studios is how absolutely tiny they are. They were originally built as radio studios. Somehow NBC has managed to use camera tricks to make the spaces seem bigger. For instance, after Conan does his little dance in the beginning and greets Max, he always pretends to shout across the room. In reality they are less than 5 feet from each other. They have a camera on Conan and another on Max, which never ever pan out to show the two together.
We learned tons of other tidbits and fun things. I definitely recommend this tour for you next time you visit the city. But I don't recommend afterward that you ask the geeky guy working in the NBC store for an idea of where to go for a "nice lunch". "Nice lunch" to the geeky guy surely means something different since he sent us to Mars. Yes, the planet. There's a crazy themed restaurant which pretends to be the planet Mars in every way, including a spaceship which delivers you to your table (out of order), Marsians who will refer to you as Earthlings, and out-of-this-world bad food. Unless you have a little one who would enjoy such things, stay away from Mars. It is definitely not the place for 3 thirty-something women to have a "nice lunch". We should have just gone with our dream, Four Seasons. Right?
After lunch, we made our way up Broadway for the highlight of the day...The Color Purple! When we arrived at the theatre and found a line already forming around the block, we decided to join the queue. Once they started seating, the line moved quickly and before we knew it we were sitting in our very good seats. We still had a bit of time before the curtain rose so I treated us all to Bailey's laced Cafe Mocha's. Mmmm. Mmmmm.
From that first song that filled the air until the tear-filled standing ovation was rewarded with a perfect encore and all in between, the show was absolutely wonderful. It breaks your heart and then mends it. And it makes you happy to be alive, to be.
"I think it pisses God off when folks walk past the color purple in a field and don't notice it."
With tear stained faces and feeling so happy to have experienced this perfect musical and with only a few hours of our day left to enjoy, we headed out to the noisy streets. We thought it would be fun to have a frozen hot chocolate after the show. But after walking blocks and blocks, we found a two-hour wait outside Serendipity. In hindsight, we really should've taken a taxi back to Times Square.
Instead we wound our way through Madison and Park Avenues, back down Broadway for blocks and blocks. As we walked, we pointed out the sites and talked. We decided that the we would love nothing better than some wonderful sushi. We found a few places but I pushed on saying we should try to find a place closer to the station since we were running out of time. About 6 blocks away we found a cute little sushi place and placed our order. We miscalculated how much time it would take and ended up running full force through the streets to make our train in time, laughing all the way. In fact, once when Jennifer was nearly driven down by a cab and yelled at the cabby (she's a quick study!), Jessica had to stop running, she was laughing so hard!
We were so tired by the time we finally landed, all together, on the return train. We quickly gobbled up our sushi, continued to laugh and talk and other things sisters do without even thinking. Just outside of Philadelphia, mysteriously close to where our morning train hit trouble, the train lost power and eventually stopped. Uh oh.
Over the loudspeaker we heard the unnerving announcement that they would try to "jerry-rig" a temporary fix to get us into the station. The brake-line had been punctured. After almost an hour wait, the train started up. The same voice announced that they had found a branch that they were able to plug the line with. That doesn't induce much confidence, does it?
We made it home safely (and with a good story to tell). The best gift of the day was spending time with my sisters, just my sisters. They've known me all my life, these two. We know the good, the bad, and the uglies. I love them both and I'm lucky to have them.