I didn’t realize New York was in my chest until I left the city to drive up to Ottawa for a week to visit family. Driving upstate and into Canada the air gets colder and apparently cleaner (like the people?) unsettling the material I’d accumulated in my lungs and releasing it in a strange range of colors from pollution through clear.
We chose the no GPS option for our rental car as we had hand written our Google map directions in pencil on one of those pads of paper that realtors give out - the ones with their faces on them. We didn’t bother to print off the map and casually decided to begin our drive by detouring an hour and a half in the opposite direction to have breakfast (lunch…) with friends in Hamden, Connecticut. Google maps is ambitious on time. It took 11 hours from our vegan pancakes to Ottawa. The baby did not like the car seat and we woke the house up when we arrived at 1am.
As we had no map to look at for perspective we questioned and fought about every turn off, every city we passed through or anxiously looked for. I have never waited for a man the way I waited for Binghampton.
About an hour and a half from the Canadian border I seriously considered stopping feeding the baby entirely and getting someone else to move her on to sandwiches. One nice thing about my time in New York though is that I have done enough field research to write a piece on divey hotels, or 2 stars **. It will go something like: avoid them in cool cities where people want to be (NY) but give them your business in Syracuse.
A 2 star hotel in Queen’s Village will just make you feel depressed about your life; temporarily transporting you to a tenement reality, where you cannot bath your babies because the tub is too filthy and the sink is plugged with hair. One bed is considered plenty for the four of you and the staff clean the place every morning by spraying a can of ‘Pine Fresh’ down the corridors in big sweeping arm movements.
Wafting through this you’ll arrive at the breakfast buffet, where you’ll alter your children’s sugar levels permanently. They’re young right? When you notice that the family at the middle table has a couple of buckets of fried chicken at 8.30am you think to yourself “that’s actually pretty smart. Lots of protein.”