(This entry could also be entitled: Hold on tight: You’re about to experience a sensory overload.)

When I planned a trip with D.P. to visit my parents and tour the ‘sites’ of New Jersey and New York City, I knew it was going to be a big deal. I knew that it would be like nothing I had ever experienced, and I prepared myself as well as I could. I’ll tell you though, coming from straight-up suburbia and being thrust into the lion’s den of the City, I only know this now: there is no way in hell I could have ever been fully prepared for the sensory overload.

D.P. and I left his house very early on Friday, June 20 and made our way to the airport. Being that he’s an airline employee, we were flying ‘stand-by’ — we hoped, by being there early, we would secure a seat on one of the first few flights out to LaGuardia/NYC. [Originally, we wanted to fly in to Newark (it would have been about an hour closer to my parents, meaning no public transportation needed), but D.P. had taken a quick peek at the flight load the night before and it was a no-go.] Sure enough, we made it on a flight without any delay. I was a little disappointed that we weren’t able to sit together, but I’m a big girl and handled it just fine.

On the way out to NYC, I sat next to a business man and a man with very long legs who was wearing a yarmulke. It would have been a fairly uneventful trip if it hadn’t been for the business man needing to get up twice during the four-hour trek across the country. Remind me the next time I travel that I am supposed to put my ‘Mom-hat’ on and ask each person I sit next to if they’ve gone pee before we leave. Seriously, give that man an aisle seat! He was sweet though, ’cause when we were flying over the City he let me peek over his shoulder and really take a good look at everything. We made small talk, and said our goodbyes as we walked off the aircraft.

I called my mom on her cell phone to let her know that we had landed at LaGuardia, and she said she’d text me the information regarding where to meet her. The plan was for D.P. and I to take the bus shuttle to NYC’s Penn Station, so when we figured out where to catch the shuttle, we were off. The ten-mile jaunt started out decent but, when we transferred from the shuttle to a smaller van that was taking the two of us plus five more people to Penn Station, we very quickly realized where we were. The driver was reckless, weaving in and out of traffic, yelling at pedestrians and other drivers… I saw my life flash before my eyes. I laughed nervously and gripped the life out of one of D.P.’s knees until our terrifying journey came to an end, right outside a Sbarro restaurant. I tipped the driver $5 and ran away screaming.

D.P. and I were so hungry, we decided to stop in it at the Sbarro and grab a slice of pizza, hoping it would tide us over until dinner. The serving size was huge — almost like we were being served two pieces in one. The pizza was good, but we both decided that we were so hungry… anything would have tasted good at that point. When we were finished eating, we headed across the street (diagonally) to Penn Station. [Did you know that Penn Station is under Madison Square Garden? I did not know that, either!] We waited for my mom and, when she arrived, we bought tickets to ride the commuter train to my parents’ house in Morris Plains, NJ. The trip took us about an hour (maybe longer?) and during that time there was plenty of small talk. My mom and I shared cell phone photos, and I tried to include D.P. on as much of the conversation as possible.

Eventually, we made it to the Morris Plains station, where my dad picked us up in his brand-spanking new Prius hybrid. That car was so awesome, I have never seen anything like it! Everyone decided that we’d stop by the house before going on to dinner, so D.P. and I could freshen up, and I thought that was a brilliant idea. I’m telling you… I was (as D.P. calls it) pittin’ it out!

My parents treated us to sushi at a local restaurant called Minado. It’s been about 17 years since I last had sushi, and it was delightful. The atmosphere was laid-back, and the food was outstanding. If I could have stuffed my face more than I did, I totally would have as I won’t have that chance again for quite some time. We each drank Sapporo beer and I think D.P. was the only one who opted for silverware, rather than chopsticks. I tried so many different kinds of things, I can’t possibly remember all of them… too bad, because there’s a place by D.P.’s house that offers sushi. I don’t imagine the quality would be near the same, since we are nowhere near an ocean, but a girl can hope.

We went home stuffed and tired, and I wasn’t looking forward to waking up very early the next morning. I hoped the trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty would be worth only sleeping for a handful of hours. I wasn’t disappointed.

Jump to Why I’ll never be the same: Day 2.