I am a widowed mother of a 2 year old daughter. New England girl transplanted in Upstate New York. Coffee snob and a Mexican food enthusiastic. History nerd. I like to run, read, travel, knit and cook. I blog about grief, life, love and resilience.
It was the day of my daughter’s first dance recital.
This was her first year of dance. She was in a ballet and tap combination class for and 4-year-olds.
I know as a dance mom, I found the whole experience a little overwhelming but my daughter handled it like a pro. On top of skipping her nap.
She played the role of “Little Miss Sassy” so well.
This age is still a little unpredictable. Age 3 is young to be on stage. I was worried that she would get scared but she made it on stage.
And she rocked her dance.
I asked her what she thought about being on stage and she told me that she liked it. The stage was a big stage at The Egg Performing Arts Center in downtown Albany. I asked her if she saw lights or people and she said she saw both.
This day was very emotional for me because it was her first recital and Bryon wasn’t here to see it. When she was a baby, Bryon and I talked about how we were going to put her in dance class and that she would be in a recital. It is bittersweet to see her grow and reach milestones and not have Bryon there. We may be coming up on two years since he died but his absence is still profound. But she is going to have a lifetime of firsts and milestones and I am just going to have to get used to the emptiness that accompanies those events.
It didn’t help that it was also Father’s Day weekend. I was in a bad mood (with my daughter’s father being dead and all) but my parents made it for the recital. My daughter loves her grandparents so much and we were lucky they got to see her.
Bryon and I had plans. We wanted our daughter and any other children we had to see the world. I told Bryon that I wanted to take a trip to Boston every summer and take our kids to a Red Sox game at Fenway. Bryon agreed and he countered that he wanted to take our children to New York City at Christmastime. I agreed.
In case anyone is wondering, that is a “P” on Bryon’s hat. He bought that when we saw the PawSox at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. He liked it because the hat confused people…except for true Red Sox fans.
Ironically he is not wearing that hat in the picture from the PawSox game. Go figure. But I like the picture and will still share it.
I always planned to take my daughter to a Boston Red Sox game but I was waiting until she got older. Then I won some Red Sox tickets and decided that there was no better time than the present.
One of my best friends enthusiastically agreed to attend the game with me. Even though she grew up in Western New York, she is a hardcore Red Sox fan. Since I asked her to go, she offered to pay for a hotel room near Fenway Park. Of all the time I spent in Boston, it dawned on me that I have never spent the night in Boston. Well, unless you count the first couple days of my life. But I don’t remember that. I usually stay out in the suburbs and take the subway, commuter rail, an uber or I drive. I was excited to stay in the city.
Our drive to Boston was uneventful. A straight shot on I-90. We didn’t even need to stop for gas.
My friend booked a room at the Hilton Back Bay which was a 0.4 mile walk to Fenway. I don’t know the cost of the room but I can tell you that our room was clean and parking was free. We arrived before check in (meaning we couldn’t check in until after the game) and left the city after check out the next day and the hotel let us keep our car there the whole time.
There also was a pool that was clean and well-kept.
Since we arrived and couldn’t check in before the game, we kept our luggage locked in the car. The walk went quickly. Our tickets told us to enter at Gate E on Landsdowne Street but we entered at Gate D, which was Jersey Street (formerly Yawkey Way).
There were employees giving out stickers to small children and they advised us to go to fan relations to pick my daughter up a “first time at Fenway” pin since it was her first time.
Tip #1: The “first time at Fenway” pins are for adults and children alike. So if you attend a game for the first time- get your pin!
We did some shopping on Jersey Street because I couldn’t resist. I live in New York where Red Sox merchandise can be scarce. My daughter wanted a pink Red Sox shirt and a pink Red Sox hat which I obliged. And a toy Tessie. I may have also bought her a pink Red Sox hoodie.
Tip #2: When travelling with a fast growing kid, I buy souvenir clothing a size or two bigger so it lasts longer. Souvenir clothing can be pricey and this method helps me justify spending the money because, hey, she can wear it for a year or two.
The morning of the game, I was tearing apart my house looking for MY Red Sox hat. I found Bryon’s Red Sox and Paw Sox hats. I found my daughters infant Red Sox hat. But no clue where mine is. I wanted to wear a hat so I was going to buy another and I was pissed about it. But at the store, I saw so many styles. I decided not to get another traditional cap and instead I got the seersucker Red Sox cap.
Tip #3: Diversify your Red Sox Wardrobe.
Tip #4: Seersucker is a classic summer style and it is lightweight. A seersucker baseball cap is an excellent choice for sun protection without the sweat.
My friend did not own a Red Sox cap. She was hesistant to buy one but ultimately did because…
Tip #5: Everyone looks good in a Red Sox cap. It is impossible to look bad while wearing a Red Sox hat.
Our seats were in left field. We began to walk our way over. I decided it was a good time to feed my child. So we stopped for Fenway Franks.
I know it’s not fashionable to like hot dogs but I will always love hot dogs. To quote doug Heffernan from King of Queens, “If eating hot dogs is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.”
My daughter likes Ketchup on everything (yuck!). I like mine the way God intended, with mustard and relish. Now, a perfect hot dog would also have onion but the offerings were ketchup, mustard and relish and I was perfectly happy with mustard and relish.
My daughter’s first Fenway Frank. I think she liked it.
I have no clue what number Fenway Frank this was for me.
My daughter was apparently going low-carb on this meal because she didn’t eat the bun.
Tip #6: Feel free to enjoy food before the game. The concession lines get long and you don’t want to miss any of the actual game, right?
Now you may have noticed my daughter was in a stroller.
I went back and forth on this. My daughter is at that awkward age where we hardly ever use the stroller. I can count on one hand the amount of times we used it this past year (Chicago x 2, Cedar Point and Fenway). She is a strong walker but I knew after walking a half a mile each way to and from the game and walking around Fenway that my daughter would get tired. And then she would be begging me to carry her. And she isn’t exactly a tiny little baby anymore.
My friend also brought up an important safety issue. The streets around Fenway get crowded and it gave us peace of mind to have her buckled into her stroller.
Tip #7: DO NOT FEAR BRINGING THE STROLLER TO FENWAY.
First, I recommend bringing an umbrella stroller, not a large stroller.
There is no official stroller check in but I will tell you my experience.
I took the stroller as far as I could into the stands. I broke the stroller down and went to put it under our seats which is park policy. BUT…it didn’t fit under our seats. The usher kindly told me to drop it off at fan relations and told me where the closest one was located. I brought it to the fan relations stand. The man working was very nice and just told me to put it in the pile of folded up umbrella strollers and that I could pick it up after the game. Which was exactly what I did. Easy peasy.
Our seats were in left field. While I personally feel that there is no bad seat at Fenway (except maybe behind the foul poles) the seats along the third base line and left field are not in the sun.
Tip #8: Avoid the sun by sitting along the third base line and left field. Just be careful of the foul balls.
Mother-daughter selfie at Fenway!
Bestie Selfie at Fenway!
If you are a beer drinker, the only beer worth drinking is Sam Adams, because…Boston…d’uh. Usually I only drink stouts, porters and pumpkin beer, when in season. But I do love a good old Sam Lager. I did try the seasonal ’76 beer. I was hesitant because it smelled hoppy and I don’t like hoppy beer. But I couldn’t taste the hops despite the smell.
Tip #9: When in Fenway, drink Sam Adams. It’s the Boston thing to do. Try the ’76 seasonal beer. And as always, drink responsibly. No one wants to sit next to a rowdy asshole. Even if that rowdy asshole is you.
Speaking of being in Boston, I have another tip. I am sad I even have to bring this up but my friend is guilty of teaching my daughter to say this. I will forgive her. This once.
Tip #10: Don’t ask/tell people in Boston to say “Pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd.” We have heard this before. No one says it. You might as well call Boston “Bean Town” while you are at it.
If it were up to me, I would have sat and watched the whole game. But my daughter is three (and a half- that half is important) and I knew nine innings is too long for her to sit still. But there is a kids clubhouse with games, crafts and face painting. So we left during the bottom of the third inning.
The concourse was packed! Glad we ate before the game because I wasn’t waiting in any of those lines. (Fun fact about me- I hate, hate, hate, hate waiting in lines).
The clubhouse is all the way over by right field. We had a long walk but we bumped into the real Tessie.
We had a little trouble locating the club house but we asked Tessie’s attendants and they gave us directions. I had been finishing an adult beverage (okay, Sam ’76) and I assumed they wouldn’t be allowed in the kids clubhouse. So I, um, finished it rather quickly. But the joke was on me because there is a bar in the kids clubhouse. Don’t worry, you had to be 21 to order from it. The best part was, the lines were much, much shorter.
Tip #11: Beer lines in the kids clubhouse are much, much shorter than the beer stands in the concourse. Again, drink responsibly. Especially if you have a child to take care of.
Our walk took at least an inning. My daughter was playing with some plastic fruits and vegetables. At least the game was on TV’s so we got to see any important plays.
We made our way back during the sixth inning. We took a few photos and my friend procured nachos.
Tip #12: While the nachos were adequate, stick to the Fenway Franks.
We caught the last three innings in the seats. I didn’t get any pictures. I did send my friends on SnapChat a video of the crowd singing “Sweet Caroline”. I have it saved but I am not going to subject you to my singing. I had had a few Sam Adams.
Who am I kidding? I can’t sing even without the Sam Adams. I think my Dad once compared my singing to the sounds of a tortured cat.
So I won’t subject you. Only my SnapChat friends get that pleasure.
The game ended with the Sox winning 4-2.
We held back and waited for the crowds to thin out before rushing out. I am not a fan of crowds and thought it would be easier to manage after waiting for the other impatient fans to leave. I didn’t see the point to hurry out of there to wait impatiently to leave. So we stayed in our seats for a bit and people watched. Then I got our stroller and we left.
Walking back to our hotel…let’s just say that Google Maps took us on a scenic walk. Way out of the way. And I had to pee. Not fun. Spoiler alert: I made it to the hotel.
We checked into our room and then we went swimming in the pool. I suggested getting Boston Chinese. It was 10:30 pm and most places were closing but there was one open until 2 am and it was only 0.1 miles. My friend went to pick it up so we wouldn’t have to bother with delivery. The food was delicious but it was not the Boston Chinese that I grew up with. I was disappointed. The rice wasn’t even brown. Maybe Boston Chinese is a suburban thing. I promised my friend next time we would have proper Boston Chinese food.
If anyone is interested- Dumpling Palace. Good, just not traditional Boston Chinese.
We had booked Duck Tour tickets online for the 11:30 am tour for the next morning.
Tip #13 Book your Duck Tour tickets online and early for optimal choice in seating. They book up fast.
The next morning we checked out (the hotel let us keep our car parked in the garage for no extra charge) and we grabbed breakfast at the Au Bon Pain in the Prudential Tower. The Duck Tours were on the other side.
We got there a half an hour early so we walked around a nearby Star Market. My grandmother shopped at Star Market and it was nowhere near as fancy as this Star Market. This one was fancy. I am going to say something that might be sacrilege to my friends in Western New York but this surpassed, or at the very least, rivaled, Wegmans.
The Duck Tour was awesome. I had never been on a Duck Tour. I am native to the Boston area and I was a history major and I learned so much on the tour. Our guide was Skip the Skydiver and he was hysterical too. I highly recommend the Duck Tour as a good way to see Boston.
Where everyone knows your name…
My friend and I decided that this is something we should do every summer.
A few weeks ago I said that I started writing a book and that that would not be affecting this blog. I meant it when I wrote it. So maybe it wasn’t actually a lie.
But I found that by keeping up this blog, I am too drained to write my book.
I also have felt uninspired when writing this blog. It has become routine and it has felt like a chore. Not that writing isn’t work but I feel like I haven’t been putting my heart into my posts. And it has shown because my blog hasn’t been growing. A big problem is that I stopped writing for me.
I feel like my writing and it’s creativity on this blog has plateaued. And the frustration has been draining my energy.
I have several projects in the works this summer and I need my energy for these projects. I will still be writing in this blog but it is only going to be when I feel inspired, whether it is once a week or four times a week.
I also need this summer to decide what direction I want my writing to go. My grief isn’t as turbulent anymore. Moving forward with my life doesn’t seem to interest people as much a roller coaster emotions. But I have had enough drama in my life. I am not going to manufacture it to create an interesting blog.
So this isn’t a breakup. Just an “I need space” moment combined with a “It’s not you, it’s me” moment. I look forward to being back when I am inspired and I will be checking in.
Today is my best friends birthday. I won’t share how many years she has but it is more than me.
With the exception for three months where I lived in Indiana, we have always lived a plane ride away. So we don’t get to see each other nearly as often as we like.
But as a birthday challenge of sorts, I wanted to see if I could reconstruct all the times we have seen each other.
We first met in April of 2006 at the Young Republican Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. More specifically, she was sitting in front of me on the shuttle to the hotel from the Romanian Embassy.
We saw each other again at the Young Republican National Federation (YRNF) Cleveland Board Meeting but we weren’t really friends yet.
It would be at the YRNF Fall 2006 Board Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. This was when we would become friends. I had just lost my race for State Rep back in Maine. This was also the board meeting where I met Bryon.
March- We had a YRNF Board Meeting in New Orleans.
Then there was the Young Republican National Convention in Hollywood, Florida in July.
That fall I lived in Indiana. I know there was an evening I was staying the night near Chicago and my work partner and I took the train in to have dinner with her and another good Chicago friend. Sadly, I don’t have a pic. It was 2007. I still used a flip phone. Don’t judge.
She also took a flight to Louisville to work on a campaign. We knocked on doors somewhere in Kentucky. I don’t have any pics of that weekend either.
A friend and I drove up to Chicago one weekend and we went to Navy Pier.
Sometime in the Fall of 2007 was also the YRNF Board Meeting in Houston, Texas.
By the holidays, I was back in Maine. Her family didn’t celebrate Christmas so she came to Maine to celebrate with my family. She flew into Manchester, NH and my Michigan Best friend (who still lived in Maine at the time) came with me to pick her up. During a blizzard.
We celebrated the holidays in Maine.
It’s not a Sullivan holiday without a trip to the range.
We then took a trip to Boston. There were Irish pubs…
…and Scorpion Bowls…
…and some wicked bad karaoke.
We also walked the Freedom Trail in the freezing rain.
And we went to Cheers and these guys were our dates for five minutes.
I was still living in Maine and I was traveling out to Albany for the New York State Young Republican Leadership Conference and she decided to fly in. (This weekend was also when Bryon and my love story began)
I had missed the Young Republican Leadership Conference that year because it was the same year as the Maine Republican Convention. I guess when scheduling it, Maine didn’t matter or something. But we had a Maine Young Republican Conference in Portland and she flew in for that.
She flew in that Fall to help with some campaigning. There was a hurricane in the Gulf of Maine that weekend. Luckily, it was far enough out in the ocean that we really just had rain. But we ending up painting signs in a barn.
Oh and there was some more bad karaoke.
And then there was the YRNF Fall Board Meeting in Nashville.
First there was the Spring YRNF Board Meeting in Orlando.
Then there was the Young Republican National Convention in Indianapolis. And I have no pics from us. I feel like she may have worked and drove in late. Or maybe I was a jerk friend who spent too much time hanging out with my boyfriend. I was also running for Northeast Regional Vice Chair and I know I was consumed with that.
Since I have given you a lot of pics of bad karaoke, here’s one of Bryon singing good karaoke.
The Fall 2008 YRNF Board Meeting was in Kansas City, MO. I had tonsillitis, went against doctors orders and I barely left my room. I emerged for meetings because I was the Northeast Regional Vice-Chair and had to be there. So no pics. But we were both there.
We both happened to be in Indianapolis for two separate events. I was in town to watch Bryon’s alma mater’s basketball team play Butler in the Bracket Busters. You were in town with your boyfriend for a race. We met up for dinner at St. Elmo’s Steakehouse. This was the winter of illness so I was out of it because I had bronchitis. That spring she came out to visit me in Albany but I had picked up a really bad case of Gatroenteritis while working in the ER. But she still came anyway, but I was not any fun.
We did not see each other this year. This is a sad year.
And the beginning of 2012, she came out to Albany for my engagement party
Then there was my wedding
And her wedding in Mexico
We didn’t see each other in 2013. We were too busy being newlyweds.
I flew out to Chicago in February for your baby shower. We went to the Sears Tower and we were both pregnant and stopped to rest on every bench we saw and used the bathroom every time we saw one. A far cry from our old days. No pictures because we both feeling tired and pregnant.
Your family came to visit mine in Albany. It gives me goosebumps to think that this would be the last time you would see Bryon.
Bryon had been in the ICU for 4 months and been transferred to NYC. You made plans to come to NYC on Bryon and my birthday weekend and you arranged with my father to meet halfway between Albany and NYC so you could bring my daughter to see him.
But that weekend never happened.
Well it did. Just not the way you planned. But it ended up being a funeral weekend in Albany. I was grateful to have you there for me.
Life goes on. And you made sure to make time for me this year.
And this is where our story currently is. It is so cool to see our girls growing in these pics and that they will grow up together. Who would have thought that a friendship forged during drunken YRNF weekends would turn into a friendship that spans two generations?
And we get to continue our story this coming weekend. I am so excited!
Fun Fact about this blog. Almost all the posts on this blog are written between midnight and 2 am. Last night I chose to sleep instead. So I apologize for the post being up later than usual.
Time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!
Last weekend my daughter and I were in a wedding of our good friends. These friend are very special to me and I am grateful that I got to be a part of their big day.
She makes me so proud.
That the storms missed Albany.
Being from New England, I joke that Albany is in the Midwest. But we don’t usually get tornado watches. I know watches just mean that the weather conditions are present where a tornado could begin. I know that tornado warnings are when you are supposed to stay calm while freaking out. But nope- anything with the word “tornado” in it freaks me out.
I am grateful that we missed the storms and grateful that my friends Downstate were safe.
Yesterday was my kitty’s “estimated” birthday. He turned nine. I didn’t remember it was his birthday until 3:15 pm. I guess that makes me a sh*tty cat mom. While he can be rather stand-offish to everyone else, he loves me. Bryon and I adopted him when he was studying for the NY Bar exam in 2011 so my cat and I have been through so much together.
Blue Bloods is one of my favorite shows. Like, I actually DVR it and watch it every week. I also binge watch it on Netflix when I need background noise.
I have been so emotionally invested in Jamie and Eddie. Way more than I ever was with Luke and Lorelei. What do they call it? Shipping? And they finally got together in the Season Finale! Yay!
Now if only Elena and Gabe can get together….though I am not nearly as emotionally invested in them as I was with Jamko.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a New England girl and Boston is my city.
But I do feel some shame when I think about how little I time I have spent in New York City even though I have lived in Upstate New York for almost nine years.
The first time I went to NYC was when I was a senior in high school in 1996. My cross country team traveled from rural Maine and we ran a 5k in Van Cortland Park in the Bronx. We also saw Les Miserables on Broadway, went to the Natural History Museum, shopped at Macy’s and saw Trump Tower, the Plaza Hotel and FAO Schwartz. We also ate a Bennigan’s in New Jersey. I loved all of it. I was amazed that NYC was so big and that it made Boston look like a small town.
My second time in New York City was December 2008. I had been dating Bryon for a couple of months and we met in the city to attend the New York City Young Republican Club Holiday Dinner. Bryon took me to see all the store windows decorated for Christmas. He also took me to see the tree in Rockefeller Center and that was the first place he told me that he loved me.
I returned a few more times that year. I was still living in Maine and I was running for Northeast Region Vice Chairman of the Young Republican National Federation. I would stay with friends and campaign around the Mid-Atlantic. Bryon would join me. The trips were fuzzy but I remember going to a bar called Stitch in the Garment District that had $20 drinks (Bryon didn’t let his status as a poor 1L in law school stop him from getting me drinks) and I remember walking by the Brooklyn Bridge with Bryon.
But I have only been to NYC four times since I moved to New York State 9 years ago.
The first was right after I moved here. Bryon and I drove to Queens to attend a cookout at a friends house.
The third time was in November, 2013. I was pregnant with a baby I would miscarry later that same week. Bryon and I took a one night cruise on the Norwegian Gem out of NYC and the following day we explored the city. Only being pregnant, I was not good company. I was tired, had sciatic pain and could only tolerate eating saltine crackers. I remember we had lunch at McGee’s Pub, which is the bar that inspired McLaren’s on How I Met Your Mother. Then we saw Pippen at The Music Box Theater. I had wanted to see the Rockettes but Bryon really wanted to see Pippen. He told me we would see the Rockettes the next time.
The next (and fourth) time Bryon and I would go to NYC would be when I had him transferred to Columbia Presbyterian and I temporarily moved down there. A family who was friends with my daughter’s godmother took me in. I will always be grateful that they welcomed me, a stranger into their home and did everything they could to make me feel welcome even though we had no way of knowing how long Bryon’s recovery was going to take.
Aside from the one night where my daughters godmother took me to Times Square and to a Mexican Restaurant in Harlem on the same block as the Seinfeld Restaurant, I did not see much of the city. The family I stayed with lived in Hamilton Heights. Every morning I would walk a block to the subway station, stopping to get an Iced Coffee at Dunkin Donuts. The hospital was one stop on the express (three on the local) away in Washington Heights and I spent my days in Bryon’s room in the MICU located in the Millstein Building. The security guards knew my name. When I was hungry, I either got food in the cafeteria or I went to the Chipotle or Starbucks on the same block.
Since then, I have driven by NYC on a few trips where I have flown in and out of Newark, NJ. We also drove by the city on our way to and from Philadelphia last month. I remember saying to my friends that I had not been to NYC since Bryon died. I know there is so much that city has to offer. We had so many ideas of things we wanted to do with our daughter when she got older. I am thinking about possibly doing a weekend trip next fall. I want to take her to see the Rockettes. We will see if I am ready.
I think it is safe to say that if I visit NYC again, I will be avoiding Washington Heights.
So now that I have gotten all that out of the way, I will get to the point of this post.
I am choosing to remember Bryon and our second trip to NYC.
It was May 2011. Seven years ago. I was pissed at Bryon because we never went to the city. So he did what any good boyfriend would do. He took me down to NYC. And typical to his zest for life, he packed a lot into that one day.
So he took me to the city.
We drove downstate and took the Metro North train into the city. We arrive in Grand Central Station.
We went to the Top of the Rock.
We then went to Chinatown where I may have bought an “imitation” Coach purse. Bryon was dissapointed that I wouldn’t go into the places with a back room. It scared me. Bryon normally couldn’t care less about purses, but when it was time to haggle, he jumped right in and haggled with the lady. Even though I was paying, he wasn’t satisfied with the price given.
Bryon then took me to McSorley’s. McSorley’s was an experience. It is the oldest running Irish Tavern in NYC. You have two choices of beer, light and dark and you order them in increments of two. We ate the cheese platter which consisted of cheese, saltines and raw onions. The place is full of history but the best is the legend of the wishbones. the legend is that when the soldiers went to war during WWI, they put a wishbone up above the bar and took them down when they returned. So the wishbones that remain memorialize the soldiers that did not come home.
After McSorley’s, Bryon took me to a dish shop called Fishs Eddy. I don’t remember it being the best place to be when you were tipsy.
Then we went to Little Italy. We had dinner at a pizza place and then went somewhere else for cannoli. I have no idea the names of the places we went.
We finished the night at a hidden bar above a Five Guys.
A city with so many memories. A city that I will always associate with Bryon’s death. A city that Bryon planned on taking our daughter at Christmastime.
I need to decide if I want to take my daughter down this fall. It would be a shame to not take advantage of all the city has to offer. Nothing in life is definite and if I were to leave the area, I would probably kick myself for not going down there. So now I need to decide, Rockettes or the Natural History Museum or both….
Have you ever been to New York City? What is your favorite thing to do?
A few weeks ago, my daughters preschool class went on a field trip to a local farm for “Baby Animal Days.” The kids got a chance to pet the baby animals. It was a very cold and rainy afternoon but the weather did not ruin the fun.
Here are some pictures from the memorable afternoon. Do you live on a farm? If not, have you ever visited one?