Look, I love NY. I grew up there, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. But I don't think I'll EVER be able to live there again.
Becky and I left Elmira and made our way to Long Island to visit my father. The route designated by Google Maps took us across the George Washington Bridge into Manhattan, then across the Whitestone Bridge onto the Island. The tolls on these bridges were frightening in three ways. 1: The cost. Since when did it cost $8.00 to cross the GWB and $5.50 for the Whitestone?!? 2: The use of this "E-Z Pass" thing meant having to get into lanes in which cash was accepted, and that led to... 3: Trying to maneuver even a small car was a pain, especially when one is either being cut off or of simply kept from getting into a particular lane. Thankfully, there are still a few New Yorkers who have hearts, and they were kind enough to let poor Becky navigate through the mess that is NY traffic.
Once we were on the Southern State Parkway, which I'd driven for many years, I called Dad to let him know we were close. That's when he flaked out on me for dinner. I had no idea why until the next day, when he explained that a solid commitment from me the day before would have allowed him to arrange for his assisted living facility to allow Becky and I to eat there.
So we visited the area where I grew up instead. Ever carry around a thousand memories that were both good and bad, and then have them all crash in on you? It's a lot of...something. Friendly and malevolent ghosts all haunted me in unison, and the only thing I can say for sure was that I was ultimately happy Becky was at my side. I'm not sure exactly how I would have reacted had my walking, talking antidepressant not been holding my hand.
Since sunset was rapidly approaching, we decided to check into our motel...and discovered we'd reserved a room at what I came to call "The Hell Motel." With all that I was able to see, I'm ultimately glad we didn't have access to an ultraviolet light. If we did, Becky and I would have been awake all night.
Once we settled in, I called my old buddy Bryan. He came around and we went out for "dessert and coffee," a most typical NY ritual. He and I played the catch-up game for a couple of hours, and then it was time to sleep. We were lucky enough to have breakfast with him the next day and continue the game Then it was off to meet with Dad.
My father is suffering. In every way a person can suffer, Dad's experiencing it. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And anyone who has contact with him manages to pay some kind of price, especially my step-mom. She's the most convenient target, and she gets hit with his verbal shrapnel the most. There's little I can do; I simply don't live close enough, and she seems to not feel comfortable to call me regularly to vent. If she did, I'd do my best to help her cope.
When Becky and I left the motel this morning, we knew without doubt that we wouldn't be returning. I played up the remnants of my cold and told management that I couldn't keep the rest of my reservation; I was sick, and we were leaving. Then we sought somewhere else to stay, and everything was beyond our capacity financially. After we'd interacted with my father, Becky and I were suddenly debating exactly when to simply flee NY. We couldn't afford it and Dad didn't appear to be offering any aid to help us stay. But Dad...he was determined that we should all have dinner together, and so we went out. On the way, he slipped me the aid I wasn't expecting...but didn't seem inclined to have Becky and I stay.
So we ate...we said our goodbyes...and then we were on the road, heading back to where she lives.
Exhaustion eventually took over, and that's how it is that I came to be blogging. We stumbled upon a Holiday Inn where the woman at the front desk was rather kind to a pair of "kids" who just got engaged. Becky is asleep at this moment, and I'm going to be joining her very soon. And the only reason I look forward to returning to KS right now is the use of a computer that I'm far more familiar with.
Before I go, I should note that there are things in this post that require something more. But I need to meditate on them and try to make sense of them in my head. I so desperately want to share more, but remain unable until I can find the proper words.
Until then, be well, my friends.