Part 1: Say you're looking for a place to go...
6:30 a.m. CST through 3:30 p.m. EST, 12/8/2005
From the first moments of stepping into the airport in Nashville, I could tell this trip would test my patience. The line wasn't long at check-in, but they only had two agents, and they were both occupied. They were occupied for an eternity. They finally got someone else to help at another station, and things went smoothly from there.
I made it through security. They didn't find my bombs I was hiding, so that was good. (kidding, of course!) I found my gate. The plane left on time. The person behind me on the plane was an ass who kept shuffling cards on the fold-down tray. Grr.
I made it to Chicago with minimal turbulence. I found my gate for the flight to Newark. It was moved to another gate. I found the new gate for my flight to Newark. My flight was delayed 30 minutes. No biggie. I made it to Newark. I found the shuttle bus check-in. I took some guff from the shuttle driver, who was an ass, by the way, and he drove like he was in a third world country. He dropped me off at Port Authority at 42nd Street.
I called Peter (one of the fellows who was so kind as to let me stay the night at his place Thursday), and he helped me navigate the subways. I took the B train to West 4th and then the F train to 2nd. I walked 7 blocks, and I met Peter.
Part 2: Imagine all the people.
3:30 p.m. through 9:30 p.m. EST, 12/8/2005
I got dinner at a vegetarian restaurant 4 blocks away, and got take-out, so I could wait and meet Bryon. Plus, I got to test my keys to the apartment, and they worked nicely. Excellent. [I am unspeakably grateful for Peter and Bryon letting me stay with them and helping me navigate around the city. They were great hosts, and it was so gracious of them to open their home and hearts to me.]
After dinner, I bundled up and headed out for the memorial. The V train took AN ETERNITY to get there and get going, because there was some sort of problem with debris on the tracks at West 4th. I took off my gloves and made myself a little too at home on the V train during the wait; when I got on the B train, I realized that I only had one glove. I must've dropped the other one while changing trains. Great. That was the point when I became very happy that I brought hand warmers.
When I got off the B train at 72nd, I realized I should have gotten there earlier. Much earlier. The line was long. Very long. They had arranged it where most of Strawberry Fields was fenced off, and they had made a line that went past the Imagine mosaic for photo ops, and everyone was herded past by security like cattle.
"Okay, people, turn your cameras on NOW and have them ready when you get there."
"Let's go, keep it moving, take one picture and move on!"
"Leave your flowers and GO ON."
"Yeah, yeah, say your prayers later, people. Let's keep it moving!"
It was unnerving. Some people had travelled so far to be there, and they were being treated like they had no right at all to be there. But, I guess that's the only way they could think of to keep the line moving.
I went around to the end of the line that had formed to actually get into the heart of Strawberry Fields. I waited. And waited. Like any good kid with a cell phone (my mother-in-law Dottie kindly let me borrow hers), I called a friend (my sister-in-law Kristine) and chit-chatted with her for a bit. I waited some more. After seeing several people push past everybody, and realizing the other people in line were content to just stand there for an eternity, I finally pushed my way to the center of the crowd where the music was playing like a good little New Yorker.
The sing-alongs were fun. I hummed along a little. They were mostly Beatles songs, which surprised me. I figured everyone would have wanted to sing Lennon songs. A few people grumbled about this. "Oh, great. Another PAUL song." ha! Beatle dorks are funny.
I moved to the back of the crowd and realized I was standing right next to the circle of people around the mosaic. I seized the opportunity to put my little gift down on the memorial. I had brought a little bouquet of dried carnations tied up with a metal star with the words "PEACE" stamped on it. I left it at the edge of the mosaic, and it was happy.
Since I was bent over and not blocking anyone's view, I made myself at home for a bit and took some pictures of the items on the mosaic. Everything was beautiful.
I turned around and got ready to stand up, and a little boy behind me was facing his mother and crying. I asked her, "Is he okay? Is he scared of all the people?" (I certainly was.) She said, "No. He's sad because John died." Oh. I guess that would make sense at a memorial service. I just never expected a child that age - about 6 or 7 - to be impacted that greatly by it. It was touching, whether he was scared or not.
I made it around to the side of the mosaic that wasn't fenced off. I took some more pictures. When I stood, this time, there was a couple embracing - husband and wife. The husband told me, "This is a happy day for us. She (motioning to his wife) is pregnant, and we have always wanted to bring our baby here to this event." I asked him where they were from. "Peru." Wow.
Silly me, I headed back into the sing-along crowd. I got warned by a different couple by the mosaic that there was a drunk fellow in the crowd who was being rowdy. He got kicked out by security. Then, minutes later, I see a bottle of liquor being held up high by a fellow in the crowd. He (and his three drunken friends) made his way right over next to me. Great. After he almost squished a short girl next to me, I made my way to the back of the crowd. Quickly.
Part 3: Living life in peace.
9:30 p.m., 12/8/2005, through 12:45 a.m. EST, 12/9/2005
After I made my way to the back of the crowd, I found a bench and parked myself on it. I called Michael, and I told him that I didn't want to stay much longer. Though, the more I thought about it, I did. I came there to experience the whole event, so I did want to stay. I just didn't know how much more of the people I could stand.
"You want to save humanity, but it's people that you just can't stand." John said it so well, didn't he?
As I was sitting on the bench, some of the musicians who were helping with the sing-along made their way back to the benches and sat next to me. I eavesdropped. Their conversation was quite interesting. I don't remember much of it, but I remember they said Yoko came by earlier in the day around 2:30 p.m. She left some flowers and thanked people for being there. They said everyone waved to her. I wish I could've been there, but I was in the airport. *sigh* They also said that Yoko had two candles burning in the window of one of her apartments in the Dakota building. I looked up, and sure enough, there they were.
As it got closer to 10:50-ish (when John was shot), I stood on the bench to take pictures and to actually be able to see everybody. It felt good to be up high in the very back, because I didn't have to worry about anyone behind me or in front of me. The people beside me kept their distance. It was sad, but I was ecstatic just to not be touching anyone.
Everyone held up their peace signs for a minute to observe a moment of silence for the time when John was shot. After that, everyone sang "Woman," and it was very touching.
We sang a little more (yes, I actually sang with everyone at this point), and then observed another moment of silence + peace signs at the time when John was pronounced dead. I held up my peace sign this time instead of taking pictures. Gloveless, I thought my fingers were going to freeze and fall off, and the minute seemed to last forever, but it was worth it to participate and be part of the crowd.
Yoko blew her candles out.
Then, it was over. Some people stayed and kept singing, so I stayed a little while. The girl to my right (not one of the musicians) had a candle, and it went out. That was my signal that it was over. I left around midnight.
The trains took forever that time of night. I caught the A train to West 4th, and then the V train to 2nd. I walked the seven blocks to Bryon & Peter's apartment. AND... the key I tested earlier, the key that all their guests always use, the key that should've opened the front door to the apartment WOULDN'T WORK.
Part 4: You may say I'm a dreamer.
12:45 a.m. through 1:00 p.m. EST, 12/9/2005
I played with the stupid key for almost 15 minutes. Finally, I called Peter (thank goodness Dottie let me borrow her cell phone!) and he buzzed me up. I felt horrible about waking him, but he was very nice about it.
I crashed on the air mattress and slept... for about 11 hours. I'm a heavy sleeper. I should've asked him to wake me by 9:00 a.m., but I didn't think to. I woke up around 12:15 p.m. the next day, after a night of strange dreams.
I showered. I made oatmeal on the stove (a first!). I bundled, packed, said goodbye and thanks, and headed back out to face the city.
It snowed early that morning, and I was greeted by a big pile of it outside the door. It was fun.
Part 5: 'Cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields
1:00 p.m. through 3:15 p.m. EST, 12/9/2005
I caught the F train to West 4th. Then, I caught the B train to 72nd. I went straight over to Strawberry Fields. There were no lines, no security guards, no crowds. It was quiet, with a few people standing around. I took some pictures. The Imagine mosaic was clean and pretty, with just a few flowers and mementos here and there.
The snow in the park was beautiful. I took some more pictures and lingered a bit. I wished I could linger much longer, but I had to be catching a bus to the airport by 3:00. Too, I figured I'd stop by Macy's and drool at shoes while I was in town.
So, I headed back to the subway and took the C train to 34th. I found the Macy's, and hopped on the escalator to see the shoes. I hurried and looked, and then headed back out, probably not even 20 minutes later.
At some point in the Macy's, I dropped my hat. I realized this as soon as I got back outside. But where, on 6 floors of a department store, with all those people there, would my hat be? It was gone. I had to go catch a bus, so I didn't have time to look for it. It was gone. And I miss it.
With a heavy heart, I caught the 1 train to Port Authority. I made my way to the NJ Transit ticketing booths, and found out that the buses to the airport were in another building.
I made my way over to the other building, and I had trouble finding the ticketing area. I finally found it, though, and $13.00 later, I had a bus ticket back to the Newark airport.
Part 6: Like a homing, bird I'll fly.
3:15 p.m. EST through 10:45 p.m. CST, 12/9/2005
The bus took me to the airport. I should've gotten off at terminal A, but I got off at B instead. So, I had to take a little concourse transfer thingy to terminal A. There was a long line at check-in. There was a long line at security.
It didn't matter, though, because when I got to my gate, I discovered my 5:30 flight had been bumped to 6:00. This was no good, because I only had 50 minutes scheduled between this flight to Chicago and the connecting flight to Nashville. However, I checked at the desk, and the lady said the Nashville flight was delayed, too. The plane didn't leave the ground until 6:45.
My connecting flight that should have left at 8:00 p.m. CST didn't leave till 9:30 p.m. We landed in Nashville at about 10:30, and Michael picked me up at 10:45. What a long day.
I'm glad to be back home.
***Pictures later, I promise.***
posted by Jennifer at 12/10/2005 12:28:00 PM