An Impromptu Trip Home

Last weekend, I escaped Manhattan and made an impromptu trip home to speak at a Howell Schools Board Meeting.

I left Friday night around ten o’clock. My roommate, Mara, practically had to push me out the door so I wouldn’t miss my bus.

And, just barely, I didn’t.

I couldn’t sleep on the Greyhound because it was too damn cold. And I’d only worn a tank top and capris, so my jacket either covered my arms or my legs.

When we stopped at the heated bus terminal in Cleveland – where I’d wait for my connection to Detroit –  I was relieved.  And hungry. It was six o’clock in the morning. I ordered pancakes and chocolate milk that I didn’t finish, bacon that I did finish, and got back on board.

After getting home, I slept most of the day.

I spent the following day with my father running errands. On Monday, I spoke at the controversial board meeting.

Some really great people came to support the cause. David Jann, an old friend from high school, showed up. My brother and my mother both came, though Mom ended up going home to watch the meeting with Dad after the board went into a closed session for over an hour. Dominic Freni also came, another high school friend.

Ultimately, our effort was a bust. But it wasn’t a complete loss. We rallied, and a portion of my speech made it on the radio the next morning.

After the meeting, I spent some time with David and Dominic. By five o’clock the next day, I was back on the bus to Manhattan.

Worth it? I’d say yes.


Rachael Ray and Volunteering

A few weeks ago, I was looking for an opportunity to get involved in the local community.

Online, I found volunteer listings for the Wine and Food Festival, a huge celebration in Manhattan that lasts an entire week. All proceeds go to the Food Bank and there are famous chefs everywhere. The first volunteer event listed was for something called Rachael Ray’s Feedback: Chefs and Cocktails.

I looked for close to an hour and put myself on a few waitlists.

I got an email about a week later telling me there was a space open if I wanted it.

Nearly everyone I told wanted to know if I met Rachael Ray. Let me put it like this.

At first, I was outside helping move the line along. But the supervisor apparently decided that I was too fragile to survive in those cold conditions (a decision based entirely on my pale skin) and had me switch out with someone inside.

I didn’t know where we were going, I just followed him. I was easily the youngest person in the place. Because alcohol was served, guests had to be twenty-one.

I ended up working as “security” over the VIP section, where Rachael Ray was hanging out with her husband, friends, and (at one point) Emeril Lagasse. Oh, and Chrissy Teigen. No, I’m not kidding.

Keeping my cool was pretty difficult, but I managed.

I stood there for an hour, stuck between a couch and the separator with barely any room to move. The VIP section itself was tiny. Everyone inside was within full visibility of the guests, who stood behind me taking pictures for the entirety of the evening.

Rachael Ray was very polite to everyone (especially the volunteers).

No, I didn’t talk to her. She hugged some VIP guests who were standing literally right in front of me, though, so we almost knocked heads.

I met some really great volunteers. The experience itself (setting up, helping people enter, forming the line) wasn’t bad at all. I could definitely do it again.

Random Experiences: Part Four

Subway Guy

I don’t know what else to call him. I was on the subway, on my way back from Times Square, and this guy just sat in the corner staring at the other end of the car. I didn’t see him blink once throughout the entire ride. Not once. I figured he was probably high. But it’s New York City, so I just dismissed it.

When I transferred to the L train, he followed. Again, I didn’t think it was very notable. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have noticed if he hadn’t fallen onto the platform floor and started convulsing at my stop.

I was just starting to grasp what was happening when he stopped shaking, stood up, brushed himself off, and continued walking.

Truly Creepy Experience

It seems like all of my bizarre subway experiences take place going from Times Square to Union Square around midnight. I don’t know why. Apparently, this is high-tide for some very weird people.

The man was dressed in tall, black boots and a black trench coat. He had his hair pulled back in a tight braid and was wearing sunglasses. In a subway car at midnight.

His face was covered with a black bandanna.

None of this worried me half as much as his behavior. He kept pacing the car while we rode. When I left the car to transfer to the L train, he got off too.

He reached the entrance to the platform before I did.  He just stood there, arms crossed, and glared at everyone going inside.

I know I do some risky things in the city, but I was not about to go onto that platform. It wasn’t worth it.

Instead of getting on the train, I turned right, called Dawn, and left the station. While on the phone with her, I walked the six blocks home.

Things just keep getting stranger around here.

Home Sweet Home

So, good news. I had the opportunity to go home this weekend!

I would have written about it sooner, had it not been for the way everything went down.

Another thing you should know about me. I have this annoying habit of getting a grand idea in my head and ignoring everything else until I do it.

My best friend, Dawn, knows this. So, she probably should have known better than allowing the following conversation to take place. It was Wednesday night. I was sitting on my bed, daydreaming about leaving for Howell on Friday. We were talking on Facebook.

Me: I wanna go home now. I’m going to miss Jack’s first marching band performance.

Dawn: When do you leave?

Me: Friday.

Dawn: I’m sorry.

Me: I don’t wanna wait until Friday.

Dawn: Okay, then go now.

The idea hadn’t occurred to me, but I loved it.

I had changed my bus reservation to Thursday afternoon, e-mailed my professors to let them know I wouldn’t be in class, tossed my laundry in a basket, and started making phone calls, trying to find someone who would be able to pick me up in Toledo on Friday morning. My father was happy to oblige.

I feel like I’m currently surviving college on a break-to-break basis. When I’m here, I’m here. But I’m keeping track of the weeks, days, and hours until I get to hop on a bus and go home.

On Thursday, after work, I ran back to my dorm, gulped down lunch, and grabbed my suitcase. The Megabus pick-up spot is roughly two miles from my dorm. But I was stubborn and unwilling to take a cab.

That was a fun walk.

By the time I got there, I was sweaty, tired, and just in time to get in line and board the bus.

Megabuses, I’ll add, are much nicer than I thought they would be. It’s worth the money. You usually get your own outlet, there are never enough people going to the Midwest to fill an entire bus, and the seats are comfortable. Definitely preferable to Greyhounds.

We decided to keep my early arrival a secret from my brother. I’d make it home just in time to wake him up for school on Friday morning.

When we got home, I made scrambled eggs and toast for Jack. He came downstairs and stared at me for ten or fifteen seconds before turning around and sitting on the couch in the living room with his head in his hands.

Laughing, I walked over to him.

“Did I break you?”

“How did you get here?”

“I walked.”

“You what?”

“I walked.”

“No, you didn’t!

When I finally assured him that no, I didn’t walk, I fed him and ushered him out the door. Then, I changed clothes and headed off to the high school. It was seven o’clock in the morning, and I hadn’t slept at all the night before. But I was too hyper to care.

I spent the day visiting teachers, helping drama classes, and getting yelled at by security guards. I got home around two and crashed, hopelessly exhausted.

I spent the evening watching my little brother march and hanging out with Dawn. That night, she slept over and we talked for hours. We spent the next day watching Jack Reacher and eating pizza.

It was definitely worth coming home early.

Saturday and Sunday were mostly spent with Katie and Jack at the Jane Tasch Theatre where they were doing lights for a production.

Monday was difficult for me. I knew I was going back the next day and I wouldn’t see everyone again for six weeks. But my dad tried to ease the pain. We spent the day shopping together.

The next morning, I was back on a bus.

The ride to Manhattan was nowhere near as enjoyable as the ride home. I spent the majority of the ride looking out the window and wishing I could turn around.

But now I’m here, in my dorm, writing this post. And it’s only six shorts weeks until I’m hopping on a bus again.

I can’t wait for that.

Kathleen Laturi

As the week drags on, I keep reminding myself that I get to see my family this weekend. Just a few more days, and I’ll be bombarded by a little brother, a big sister, my mom, my dad, and two very sweet dogs.

But I got another reminder of home this week on Sunday when Kathleen Laturi (the other Howell High Class of 2014 graduate who ventured out to New York City when I did) came to have coffee with me at the Starbucks on Union Square.

Kathleen goes to Pace University, so she’s a little farther downtown than I am.

I can’t tell you how nice it was to see someone from Howell. Sometimes, when I’m here and immersed in everything around me, I start to feel detached from my hometown. Kathleen was the reminder I desperately needed.

And it was nice to know that someone else has been facing the same social struggles as me. And that someone else has actually overcome them. I’m still working on that part.

On the plus side, it was the third time I’ve gotten coffee since I’ve been here.

I’ll get used to it, eventually.