When we told people about our plans to take our three-month-old and three-year-old daughters to New York, a concern that was subtly voiced from friends and our family doctor was to do with the kids’ health. “Are you scared?” We were asked. What if something happens to them or they get sick down there and you have to deal with the American health system? Valid point. Sounds awful.
I asked our GP which vaccinations she would recommend as necessary for Ayah (who had none at 3 months) if coming to New York. She replied something along the lines of “all of them, it’s New York, I imagine everything is there.” Every disease, she meant, every virus, every germ.
The other concern that was put to us had to do with terrorist attacks. What if there was another one precisely where we were staying or visiting that day? I’m ashamed to admit that this one got to me a bit. Images of the Boston Marathon appeared in my mind spliced with my own selfish desires to drag my kids to arguably the best city in the world. Tameem and I even discussed the idea of staying in Canada, nice and safe. Montreal perhaps? Avoiding all that American danger.
I’m happy to say that we haven’t experienced either of the above. But something no one cautioned me about in coming here, was the dangers surrounding one of New York's signature sports: Baseball.
No one said to me, “Rebecca, be very careful not to be smashed in the face with a baseball in New York. Yes, you may think those Green Point parks are lovely and chilled out, with all those sun bathers, but be on guard, amateur baseball games could wreck you face. And who knows what damage could be done to your kids with those ricocheting balls!
So now that I know the real dangers of being in this city, I'm going to put you at ease. If you do unsuspectingly take one in the face it will hurt only until your face goes numb, which won't take long. You will not be too upset for too long as your hotel will be too far away to go home and stare into the bathroom mirror obsessing about it so you’ll cruise around for the rest of the day thinking it’s not so bad. That is until you stare into the mirror every morning for the next three to four weeks thinking 'this actually doesn’t look great'.
You may become conscious of people looking suspiciously at the male at your side, if there is a male at your side, as you wander around town together. And you may also be surprised and kind of amused by the amateur baseball players who come rushing over in complete shock and dismay that they could actually hit the ball hard enough to clear the pitch and possibly the public toilets to find you standing under McCarren Park’s leafy green trees.
You will understand a bit about the concerns surrounding health insurance in the States as you see their faces get panicked with the idea of personal liability, suggest you get an icepack from across the road and take something for the pain that is bound to follow and run off to resume their game. The fact that my two daughters were lying at my feet and the ball didn’t hit them I try not the think about. It did leave me feeling lucky for the incident and kind of happy about the fact that if I have to take a physical scar with me from New York it seems fitting that it comes from baseball.
Such a good looking game.