Sunday, October 26, 2014

USA. Day 5 - Boston. Arriving to New York.

Leaving Houston was surely a bummer. If not for leaving Knight behind, but for the little time I had spent there. I had just gotten used to the whole thing all together. I wish things had been different, I wish I had been able to change my flights and extend my vacation so I enjoy the people and the places more. Unfortunately, half of the things that happened to me on this journey were a consequence of a weird yet fortunate planet alignment. Or perhaps the universe awoke from a slumberous period and decided to give me a kick thinking I’d trust my gut and go for whatever it laid ahead of me. And I did. The few friends that knew beforehand of my plans, either worried for me or called me crazy, but all, absolutely all of them cheered for me and appreciated my courage so to say, to go for it. But fighting for my dream with a good man to top it all off could only look like an incredible promise than a threat, so how could I possibly not go for it?

Anyway, I spent about an hour and a half in the Houston airport, talking to my friends, sending my family updates of my whereabouts. Mom was confused pretty much at all times to where I was and what I was doing. Things were happening too fast and with the time difference in between she always needed to be reminded where I was at haha. I had a huge delicious salad after which I got on the plane and I can’t say I remember much from the trip. Just cold and darkness and me not being very happy to be on that plane.

Houston airport right after cheking in

My awesome salad before getting on the plane
My "sacred" cig package and my lucky charm :)

Landing in Boston changed things a bit. If you guys remember, last year I was admitted to Boston University at the College of Communication for a Screenwriting Master program, in a class of only 12 students. As initially I had planned to spend 4 days in Boston, I had contacted some of the remaining students there as well as Scott, the Dean of the program trying to set up meetings with them. Some of them were still around and those who had moved on meanwhile I have kept in touch with on FB. Unfortunately, as plans changed, now I only had about 6 hours to spend in Boston. So no time for meetings anymore. And Scott was not in the city exactly on the day I got there.

Actually, getting in touch with him after a year was pretty amazing, funny and rewarding at the same time. I wrote to him and felt the need to re-introduce myself. I mean, it has been a year without any contact and with thousands of students craving for his attention, I felt he wouldn’t and didn’t have to necessarily remember me. So when writing my email I reminded him who I was and how we got in touch in the first place. Then asked for a meeting. Would have loved to meet him in person. He was one of my main supporters during the entire admission process. The response came back a day after, in his usual fast manner that I’ve always appreciated. It read: “Melania, how could I forget. Of course I remember you!” And then he went on telling me when he’s available and actually gave me multiple choices but during days that didn’t fit my agenda. Initially, I was like damn, is that a good thing that he remembers me so vividly? Haha. I am sure it is. I was definitely a pain in the ass for everyone at the time and put up a stand for that admission to really happen. And I loved, admired and fully appreciated all the efforts they put in getting me there.

I know we’re deviating a bit off course, but I have to say this because it’s related to my Boston visit. As an international student admitted into the program, I did not have the chance to go for the official College tour. So Scott thought of introducing me to a few of the teachers so we have Skype “dates” where I “meet” them and discuss all sort of things just like any other student. Which was awesome! So I had a chat with Debbie and she was asking me about my other projects. I told her that I’m working on a screenplay called the Light of Boston and that the main male character had his office in the Hancock Tower. She stood up and took her laptop with her going to the window. She said: “Look!” She turned her laptop around and pointed the tower out into the distance. “That’s the Hancock Tower right there. When you come here I’ll take you up there!” I was so friggin’ enthusiastic, like a little girl on Christmas morning.

Now, that I finally had my chance to be in Boston, even if just for a few hours, I definitely planned on seeing that site with my own two eyes. But first let me get to Boston. After landing, I found my way outside the airport. I feel so at home wherever I go in this country, it’s easy for me to go around places, I don’t worry about things. So I was out of the airport, I found a cab and told the guy I need to get to Stuart Street 19, Theater District. He got me to the hostel where I was staying for the night. It’s almost midnight as I had landed at 11PM. I got inside and I already liked what I was seeing. A large lounge, with leather seats and people sitting around browsing the net. A subtle music in the air, comfy couches and small coffee tables. The people at the reception were very nice and welcoming and laid down all the necessary details for me. I was directed to my room on the second floor. The room was already full and everyone was in bed. I had one bed in a 5 women bedroom. I got the bed next to the window. I did my best not to wake up anyone. I went to take a shower and I was impressed with how clean and big the bathroom is. Shower worked perfectly, there were towels and no one could bust through the door as everything was secured with access cards.

I set my laptop and phones to charge and then got in bed for some sleep. I actually fell asleep right away as it was almost 1AM by the time I hit the sack. I woke up at about 7AM which has pretty much been the norm throughout the entire vacation in the States. No alarm needed. My mind just went hyper active I guess haha. Plus, I also kept in mind that I must be ready by the time Julia came to pick me up. My dear Julia is a work relationship, so to say. We started talking through work contracts a few years back and we had on and on planned to get together and somehow neither of us succeeded on making it happen. Now I could finally come here and there was no way I could possibly miss on seeing her. Our work relationship turned into a really beautiful friendship with Jim’s help who acted as an intermediary, always “preaching” for each other every time he had a chance.

So after waking up, I put my luggage together because I would be checking out before leaving with Julia and I started putting my make up on. There’s a black girl in the room and she didn’t know how to handle her wi fi. I helped her out and soon enough we’re into a conversations that ended with exchanging email addresses. She lives in NYC and she’s visiting Boston together with her Chinese apartment colleague. She spoke friggin’ Manadarine! I was impressed.

They left to visit the city and I was left behind to wait for Julia. She was on time. We had agreed to walk around the place because it’s the best way to get the feeling of the city than if we roamed around using her car. So she parked it close by and now we’re on foot, enjoying the great weather and beautiful old town scenery. I left my luggage at the hostel in a secured storage room and then off to our first stop, a coffee shop. I got a huge coffee and a croissant. We caught up a little bit on things, on how my trip has been so far, on how families are doing. Then on foot across town.

We just decided to walk down the streets. I didn’t have a special thing in mind. I just wanted to get the pulse of the city. See the Hancock Tower and Boston University. I loved the streets, the weather was perfect, a four season kind of city, just like what we have at home. It’s not too crowded and the architecture mingles the modern huge glass buildings with the richly decorated churches and hidden red brick houses that cost billions of dollars. It looks like for a real estate point of view, Boston is the most expensive city in America. Perhaps because it is the oldest and so many historically important events happened here. We ended up visiting a mall really quickly and as I was in Sephora I got some wi fi and Jim sent me a picture of him and Ian on the train on their way to NYC. Funny men! Haha I sent back a picture of us, the “girls” and he wished us a good happy time! We walked all the way to the BU campus. I was thrilled, excited and sad at the same time. My eyes avidly looked at the every detail. Even the most insignificant. The many Colleges, Science, Engineering, Journalism, Communication, Sports. Somehow I repressed a feeling of hurt as I took a picture with my College of Communication sign. If things had come out right I would have been there for a year already and on my way to a second year as a student there. But things were different and that’s ok. I’m finding another path now. There is always an open window that I haven’t checked and that could lead me inside, right?

The Hancock Tower

And a happy Mela haha

In front of the College of Communication at BU

We then slid down smaller streets, filled with restaurants and little (expensive!) shops. We stopped at a Mac shop and because I am in love with make up, I could not refrain from buying a mascara. Yum! Haha. Julia was an angel. She came along wherever I wanted to go and basically wanted to cover for all my expenses. Arguing with her over things was a tough thing to go through haha. Eventually, we walked around so much and had so much fun talking and shopping and discussing life and politics and relationships and Boston and whatnot that we didn’t even realize how late it was. And we didn’t even have lunch. Eventually we returned to the same coffee shop as before and got a turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce and a bag of chips. Then I grabbed my luggage, hugged Julia one more time and then hopped into a taxi to take me to the South Station. It was too sudden, just like saying good bye to my Knight in Houston. I needed more time! I’m thinking back at the little gift I brought her. The envelope tore at one of the ends in my luggage. But I hope she liked it.

Back at the train station I just checked whether the electronic ticket I had bought a week before was alright and I was given green light by the conductor to go to track 6. My passport and ticket were checked again before getting on and then I took a seat, placed my luggage, took my laptop and phones out and got ready for a 4 hours journey with the train from Boston to NYC. I actually had the time to get two bananas and a bowl of freshly sliced fruit as well as a bottle of water so I have something to nibble on the way. I did not sleep at all. There was wi fi that went on and off throughout the entire trip. The sunset was gorgeous! But I couldn’t take a picture because I was not sitting at the window.

I let Jim know I was on my way. They’re expecting me for drinks at their hotel when I got there. The train arrived at Penn Station on time. Of course. New York seen from afar was breath taking. But nothing compares to what I faced when I stepped out of Penn Station at Madison Square. The train station looked more like an airport. It’s so big and filled with people, waiting, coming, leaving, eating, buying flowers, welcoming other people. A very diverse and colorful crowd. I saw some young people costumed for Halloween and I was wondering how close we are to that celebration if people already started putting up weird masks and make up.

As I stepped outside, my head fell back and my neck stretched to the maximum as I tried to fill in my eyes with the immensity of the landscape. Literally, coming out from the underground train station and running into the sheer height of those buildings, that are not the tallest to begin with, was dumb founding. I knew before arriving here that NYC would be fascinating, but not my kind of town. And it is fascinating. Beyond fascinating. It is fabulous, opulent, breath taking, extravagant and glamorous. Still, I am sure that once I’d be over that, I would not want to live here. Streets, in some areas, are a conglomerate of people where walking is difficult. Walking fast or hurrying anywhere is a joke. You can’t tell who is a tourist and who is a local. But regardless, the first impression was a huge capital letters WOW. I turned into a tourist almost immediately. I had my luggage with me and there’s too much trouble to take the camera out but I used my phone to capture the first images of the city as I stepped in the swirl of this black whole filled with lights. Here you don’t just grab the first taxi available to you. There’s a queue. You stay in the queue and a guy whom you can almost mistake for a policeman, flags the infamous yellow cabs for you and you get on them as they come and when your turn comes. This is not some random thing. It doesn’t matter how big or small the taxi is or how many people are waiting. They will take you, even if you’re one passenger and the cab is a mini van. Just like in Houston. Unlike Houston though, these cabs are all equipped with bullet proof windows between the back seat passengers and the driver. They all have small TV screens in the back for you to spend your time with some entertainment while waiting to get to your destination. The money is past through a small opening in the window and you communicate with the driver through the radio. Some of them even had a POS hanging in the back if you wanted to pay by card. The drivers are silent and don’t really engage in conversations. I am not sure all of them actually speak proper English or English at all. It was fascinating to me. Before I learnt how the city is divided and that it functions on a geographical grid I was afraid my hotel address sounded funny and quite simple. I worried I maybe got something wrong haha. But he got me there in no time.

He dropped me at the hostel and I got inside. It looked a bit shabby at a first glance but then again hostels usually have this kind of image. I was supposed to stay with just one other girl in a room which was really a good deal for a hostel. Shared bathroom. I paid and then went upstairs. The image as I went up the stairs was getting worse and when I entered the room I was astonished and pissed. Like in depressed pissed and outraged. The room looked nothing like what they had showed on the website. The window led into the wall of the neighboring building so the drape was pulled in at all times. No natural light, just the artificial light coming from a dying bulb. A bunk bed, a table and two chairs, one small lamp on the table. Black wooden floor broken and scratched in a corner. A door that didn’t unlock and another that led into a closet that held two blankets and two coat hangers. Two lockers without lock.  A bunk bed out of which the lower bed is taken. Clothes are scattered everywhere and from the size of them, I have to admit I was wondering whether I got the room wrong and I got paired up with a guy, ‘cause they were pretty big size. I dropped the luggage in the middle of the room and gently and quiet fearfully inspected the clothes laying at the foot of the bed, looking for a bra or some sort of panties that could put me at ease that I’m actually sharing the room with a girl. Nothing. Damn it. Up on the ceiling the wall was torn with a newly installed pipe. The room was a mess. I was so fucking pissed beyond your understanding. But I had no time to complain or to change as it was late and I needed to go meet the gang. Plus I surely couldn’t afford anything else on such a short notice. But I couldn’t stop from being incredibly mad at this. I rushed outside to look for a store where I could get a lock to lock the locker (haha) and put my backpack in there, that held all my essentials. I found a Delli still opened at the corner of the street. I paid 3 bucks for a lock and ran back to the hostel. I refrained from bitching at the girl downstairs. She was actually very nice and I am sure she doesn’t own the place. But if I could just get my hands on the people who do! Obviously the place was packed with customers and they make good money with this business. I couldn’t possible ask for too much to repair the floor and ceiling. But this story goes for later.

I locked my backpack away, I inspected the bathroom really fast as refreshed my make up. Didn’t look awfully bad but not the best either. I changed clothes and rushed out in search of the sub stop to get me to the Lexington. Jim called me to see if I made it. I told him I was on my way and he literally bitched at me for trying to take the sub at almost 9:30PM. He rushed me to take the cab again which I did. I started liking this feeling of flagging down cabs. They literally pick you up from anywhere, even the middle of the street. I’m into that!

The cab got me to the Lexington. I was mad the whole way. I had such a great time in Houston, in Boston, such a swell experience all together and now this!!! As I stepped out of the cab in front of the Lexington hotel I tried to calm down. Everyone was at the bar, laughing and drinking. I dropped my jacket on the back seat of an armchair and launched for Ian. He gave me a bear hug! Haven’t seen him since he left for college which is like 3 or 4 years ago. God, I have worked with Jim for too long now, I can’t even remember things properly anymore haha. We chatted for like 15 minutes before I could even make my way around to say hi to everyone. Jan, Steven and Valeria’s son spotted me as well and we continued the chat in three this time and I was thinking, God, I need to say hi to everyone! Jim saw me eventually. He’s taking pictures haha. That’s new! So he took pictures of me and the boys then we shared a bear hug as well. I moved on to Eileen and crawled my way up a sofa to give a big kiss to Valeria and salute Steven as well. Then Bryan and Mimi. As I was into all this greeting I suddenly got a harsh slap right on my ass and I startled turning around to face Caitlin literally jumping me with an effervescent hug! I went “girl, that friggin’ hurts” She hugged me again saying “Yeah, but that ass asked for it!” haha “Well now half of my ass is gonna hurt. At least slap the other cheek too so we have it even.” And the crazy woman did it! We got some general laughing out of this little adventure. She grabbed me and ordered some alcohol for both of us then sat us down so we catch up, not before introducing me to Josh, her husband. I’ve known him forever from pictures and now we could finally be introduced in person. Eventually, I managed to go through all the guests. Met Jim’s best friend since high school, Eileen’s brothers and sisters and nieces. Actually, this was the part of the family I knew least of so this was my big chance to meet everyone. About 3 hours later it’s time to say good bye. I was thinking I had to go back to that stinking whole, but somehow having such a great time with everyone made it better. Also, I was starving as I had nothing to eat other than the sandwich in Boston and the fruit on the train. Jim offered to pay the cab in his usual funny manner. His friend Tom was literally amazed how I could “put up” with Jim for seven years. Pretty much everyone in the family was. Haha. It’s amazing and overwhelming for me to be part of this family image.

I come from a very small family and suddenly I became part of a numerous gang so to say haha. Where I was considered the unofficial 4th kid and I got many cousins and aunts and uncles. And I was literally impressed how everyone knew who I was, from Jim’s mom and best friend to James’ bride to be Nadia and everyone wanted to meet the “infamous” Mela haha. It was truly hilarious to me and I cannot even describe in words just how incredible and unbelievable this situation was for me. I mean Jim and Eileen have always made me feel like part of the family. Perhaps because I too have found an alternate mother in her and a missing father figure in him, but this was more than expected. They’re all so nice and I made so many friends in one night it’s hard to keep up with the business cards and FB friends requests haha.

Life didn’t seem so grim when I got back to the awful hostel from hell. As I arrived though, I found my roommate there. She was from Sweden. And yes it was a she. A larger she, as I initially thought, but a very nice, charming and outgoing girl. She was actually going to Boston after NY and I suggested she stays at the hostel I stayed. She was grateful for the tip ‘cause she had found something much further away. By the time we’re done talking it was 1AM. I was hungry as in hungry to kill for! I asked her if she felt like going out to find something to eat. She agreed and as we roamed the streets in search for food (haha! Sounds like a savannah thing!) we ran into a 27/7 dinner. We both ordered salads and they brought us this huge thing, really tasty and I ate everything to the last leaf and ounce of sauce haha. We walked back and as we came closer to the hostel she advised which showers were better to use because one of them was actually broken. Great! Not.

I took a shower, brushed my teeth and then got to bed. I actually fell asleep pretty fast. I set my mind on the fact that I was only there to sleep while the rest of the time I woukd be out enjoying this city. And that’s exactly how it happened. I stroke gold with this roommate because she made things so much more fun. I now felt safe and had a great companion to discuss things with. Plus she had been there for a week so she could give me all these useful tips on how to get around the city and how long it takes to visit places.  But visiting would have to wait because the following day I had the wedding to attend to.

But that my friends, is a story for another day!

Wish you a great Monday. This is my first day back to work and I’m caught between enjoying my workmates and the load of papers piled on my desk and endless list of emails that’s blocked my email. Yeah. You know how it goes!

So kisses and see you next time!

Yours truly,


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