For my 19th birthday my sister Tamlyn gave me a small brown journal to take with me on my first trip to New York to document the adventures I’d be having with my good friends Jarrod Fairclough and Matt Collins. This trip at the end of 2008 had been in the planning for some time, and had been prefaced with a semi-popular YouTube series about us heading to the big city in the hopes of catching a Broadway show entitled [title of show]. None of us had expected that our often stupid antics behind a video camera would lead to an adventure like the one we were about to have, or the incredible opportunities that would continue to arise from it. This holiday was truly the beginning of something very special.
I have transcribed these entries and previously posted them on my Facebook, but as I’m about to embark for London, on another new adventure, I thought it was time to share them with my blog readers.
Please note to capture the excitement I have copied them out as I wrote them, so expect bad spelling and grammar.
In the front of the Journal, entitled “Seans trip to New York” my sister Tamlyn wrote this message:
There are many styles of quirks.
Twitches, snorts at the end of laughter, dimples when you smile and the ability to roll your tongue.
Your quirks are the best, the most interesting and the greatest of them all.
Not just ideas. Ideas that you make into reality.
Your bravery fills me with hope, that one day I can succeed in my pursuits just like you have.
You are the best brother in the world. No one can compare.
Have an awesome time in New York. Never forget that we love you, and never give up.
Departure and Arrival
I think it’s wrong when your country tries to condition you for another countries weather.
Take for example December 14, 2008 in melbourne, non-stop rain all the way to the airport- in the middle of summer. Meanwhile, destination New York City was having an unusually warm winter.
All I want is snow in NY. Is that too much to ask for?
We go through the big silver doors at Melbourne Airport, and then customs, and then Duty Free and then more Duty Free. We finally get to the gate- after Jarrod has run back through Duty Free to Customs to find the book he thinks he’s left behind (which he hasn’t!) The plane is there, we ‘relax’ as instructed, we got held up because of some technical issue. Ahh flying.
I find the flight considerably smooth, the roughest turbulence feeling merely like a dirt road in a car. The crew on the plane are nice- we are referred to as ‘Gents’ by many of the male staff. Once again we are bombarded with Duty Free! AHHH!!! If I hear that guy scrambling around with his trolley yelling “Last Purchase Duty Free” and interrupting my movie once more I’ll…
Toilets on planes.
Therefore ‘Mile High Club’ a little uncomfortable, there’s barely enough room to actually be in there yourself.
Maybe it’s some nasty twist of fate, perhaps karma or even Murphy’s law, but as soon as I sit down there comes the turbulence. Well I guess it was lucky I wasn’t standing.
Out of the plane we hop and then make our way through a number of ‘Under Construction’
laby-labi- maze like paths until we arrive at the first point of customs (that’s find your line, hand over your paper, scan your finger, take a photo, answer questions about Australian weather and how it’s meant to be warm.)
We’re greeted in this hall by some crazy sounding representative from Korean Airlines, who is a kind of cross between ‘The Waterboy’ and Jarrod and Matt’s “Nah, it’s pronounced” character. It makes us laugh.
Then we are bombarded with messages in Spanish! SPANISH!?! We thought this was an English speaking country.
After playing catch me if you can with Matt’s bag at the carousel we progressed on to check in our baggage. More maze tunnels, dingy and dirty.
Finally something helpful, a man pulls us out of the line and cuts us to the front to drop off our bags- off to the flight. Most likely already late.
Before I continue I would like to mention the amount of stereotypical Mexican and South American people at L.A.X, white cowboy hats and woolen ponchos.
Our happy streak seemed to continue as we got more directions from a man outside the terminal. His airport advice was a volunteer program to help kids, we kicked in some money and he wished us on our merry way.
This is where the happy L.A streak ends. We were directed to the wrong terminal. We took an elevator up smack bang into the middle of American Airlines domestic terminal. Lines of people but no QANTAS as far as the eye can see. Then QANTAS check in! On the ground floor- at least they can point us the right way. Empty. An A.A security lady had directed us back to the original building we were in. Back we go.
It’s half past 8 in the morning.
Boarding was at 8:05am.
It’s easy to admit I was worried but when we reached the gates we saw that the plane had been rescheduled to 9:30, phew!
Security was pushy and very busy. Another passport and ticket check then into a line, off with the shoes, all into boxes x-rays and scanning, all while some lady is chanting “take out your laptops, take off your shoes, I need to see your badges”
Getting through is a relief and we make our way to gate 121. Crazily enough it’s the exact same plane we were just on. It made everything feel like a giant waste of time and effort, at least we could see the Hollywood White Splodge from our seats.
This flight was not as pleasant, I went in and out of sleep and felt ill occasionally, we didn’t watch any movies, and Jarrod was asleep as we passed over Albuquerque .
Arrival at JFK and we all felt better, no more security checks, just bags to be found and a shuttle to catch.
I exchanged a $10 bill for some lifesavers to get the change. Out of the five flavours I liked about 2 but I didn’t feel up to trying any other candy.
Then we waited.
Until finally our shuttle came. We had been standing around JFK for at least an hour and no matter how crazy it sounded after 18 hours of flight- I wanted to sit down.
The ride to Manhattan was fast, bumpy and in every lane possible as the driver wound his way from Brooklyn to Battery Park to Mid Town. It was now night, and dark (it had been dark already on arrival) and it was beautiful. The Empire State and Chrysler Buildings glowed, easily identifiable in the night sky, and I’d seen Times Square from the air. There was the Statue Of Liberty an eerie blue in the night.
And suddenly BAM Times Square, Big, Huge and Bright. A moment later we were at the hotel. Times Square still visible from the street. We were that close, it was that exciting, we had a Borders across the road!
Booking in with Raymond was a blast. We spoke about Australia to him and he gave us some tips for the city. We headed to the room. 3 beds, two couches/arm chairs, a desk, a tv, two windows, a corner room. Can see Madison Square from one, but far enough from 7th Avenue to be quiet.
We got changed and read and hit the streets, a visit to Times Square was in order. For such a big city I found it eerily peaceful on the streets. Then we hit Times Square. It’s kind of like going through Duty Free at Melbourne Airport, there’s bright light everywhere and products being sold as far as the eye can see. The occasional theatre here and there, or a street full of them. Then there are the people trying to flog you stuff, a picture with a dirty elmo, posters, comedy tickets, the works. Even in Toys R Us they’re flogging mementos more than toys!
I find it overbearing and a little scary.
We find the Lyceum Theatre but lose Matt. Already. Ten minutes in we lose Matt. He has no phone, we can’t contact him. We head back to the street, heads everywhere, then there he is! Lucky!
Item 1 on the agenda, get Matt a phone.
Everything is shockingly commercial in this part of town as we wind our way to Rockefeller Centre and its ice skating rink. Everything is blocked off, dirty other costumes have joined dirty elmo for photos and other people are taking photos too, but as a tourist you can barely get a shot in, there are no good angles. I want to get closer to the decorations and further away from the floggers. Some guy tries to do magic. Jarrod sends him on his way.
There is such a need for strong will here.
McDonalds has a bouncer and its large size truly is bigger than ours.