4:45 AM: Alarm goes off. Tony and I get up, dress in the dark (he realizes hours later that he’s wearing different pants than he’d intended), get the boys up and dressed. “Is this New York day?” asks Eli sleepily. A quiet “Yes” is all it takes to get the boys bounding down the stairs
5:06 AM: We’re in the car to the airport.
6:15 AM: We’re parked, through security, and waiting at our gate. Tony breaks out the new laminated “Plane Spotter” cards he got for the boys, and I read to them about the rules of aerodynamics while they look out the windows for planes.
7:15 AM: Boarding. The airline has screwed up our reservations, so we’re not all sitting near each other. Eli and I wind up next to a nice woman who, spotting the manuscript I’m commenting on, strikes up a conversation about mothering and writing. Before long, we’ve exchanged names and she’s written down the URLs of the various websites I work on. I can’t remember the last time I talked to a total stranger, and realize it’s kind of fun.
9:00 AM: Many nice people change their seats so that the four of us can sit in adjacent rows, thus simplifying the distribution of snacks and DVDs. Neither of the boys sleeps, so neither do Tony and I. Still, the 5 hours pass pretty easily with books, coloring, snacks and DVDs.
3:30 PM (Eastern Time): Landing. Eli falls asleep. We let the rest of the plane empty out so he can have a few minutes’ cat nap. When I eventually unbuckle him and start to lift him up, he stirs. “I’m awake! I want to walk!” He doesn’t want to miss a minute of New York. With no checked bags, we get through the airport quickly and are on our way into Manhattan.
5:00 PM: Hotel check-in. Our room offers a view of the Chrysler Building. The boys don’t want to leave the room so they can draw our view. We finally lure them outside.
6:00 PM: First stop, Grand Central Terminal. We ooh and aah at the starry ceiling, painted with constellations, buy a cookie, and watch a couple trains come and go. I enjoy being a tourist here, in this busy place where I was always so wary and busy, so many years ago. We take the shuttle to Times Square, paraphrasing How Little Lori Visited Times Square the whole way, and climb out into the bright lights. We are greeted by Mickey Mouse, Minnie, and Elmo, we don’t know why, but the boys are delighted and give them all high fives and knuckle bumps. We walk across and down to Bryant Park, where we find a lovely small carousel giving its last rides of the night. We buy the boys tickets, and when Ben gets off, he explains to us how he calculated the carousel’s speed by timing one revolution and multiplying by the number of circuits; his math is good. We walk around to roar at the library lions, then head back down 5th Avenue toward our hotel.
8:30 PM: The boys eat a dinner of salad and cereal picked up from the corner market. Tony walks back to Grand Central to get us some good pizza from Two Boots. Ben draws a picture of the Chrysler Building while Eli, spun, gallops back and forth, naked, across the hotel room.
10:00 PM: One reading of Sky Boys to prepare for tomorrow’s sightseeing, and the boys are asleep, their parents not far behind.