After completing my first week of work at JDRF, I was able to spend my first weekend with Matt, who rode a bus overnight Friday for nine hours (the things he does for me…) to arrive in New York City at an early, yawn-filled 6:30 am on Saturday.
I don’t think I realized how homesick I was until I hugged Matt at the bus station.
I had been so busy all week with the newness of working at JDRF and becoming familiar with a new routine that I honestly hadn’t had much time to sit down and let my feelings sink in. I’d talked to my parents, my brother, and Matt on the phone as well as texted my friends a few times throughout the week, which probably helped keep my homesickness at bay. But gosh, when I hugged Matt on Saturday morning, I desperately wanted to be home with all my familiar, loved faces surrounding me. Having Matt with me this weekend gave me a little taste of home away from home, and I am thankful for that.
We had a LOT of fun this weekend. It all began, like I said, at 6:30 Saturday morning. Originally, Matt’s bus was supposed to arrive at Port Authority at 7:40 am. I was planning on waking up at 6:30 or 6:40 so I could get to the station at 7:15, giving myself to find his gate and calm my nerves 🙂 But, for obvious reasons, I couldn’t really sleep Friday night, so I was up on my feet before 6:00 am. It’s a good thing I was, because I received a text just after 6:00 am saying he thinks the bus is close to the city. I immediately went to the subway, thinking, “I’ve still got time; I’m sure his bus isn’t that close.” But then at 6:20 am (while I’m still on the subway), I received another text saying he just got off the bus! What! So much for meeting him at the gate! We ended up meeting outside of the bus station, where Matt teased me for not recognizing him. I was standing outside of the station looking left and right for my bearded boyfriend, when all of a sudden I spot Matt, completely completely shaven! Apparently I had looked right at him three or four times, he had smiled at me, but it didn’t even register with me! Oops. Best girlfriend award goes to me, right? Haha.
So, because of said events, Matt and I got a whole extra hour together this weekend! At 6:30 in the morning… haha. After standing and laughing in front of Port Authority for a few minutes, we headed back to The Markle on the subway because we couldn’t check Matt into his room until later that afternoon. Instead, we ate breakfast at The Markle and enjoyed a slow morning together.
After breakfast, we headed to the Empire State Building. Go big or go home! I had read online that it’s best to go as close to opening time (8:00 am) as possible in order to arrive when the lines haven’t had time to get exhaustingly long. So we went around 8:30, and sure enough, we hardly had to wait! It was a beautiful, warm and sunny day – perfect for looking over the city on the 86th floor.
Even though we didn’t have to wait in line for very long, it sure was crowded up there! The Top of the Rock has a much more open area with plenty of room to walk around and get that perfect view of the city without being intruded upon by the crowds of people pushing for their turn to look over the edge. It was a little frustrating, but we still had a great time looking at the city and taking some pictures.
After our visit to the Empire State Building, we walked eight blocks to Bryant Park and the New York Public Library. The library is absolutely beautiful, even though most of what we say didn’t even involve books. The marble archways are gorgeous.
Of course, my favorite place was the gift shop, haha. They were actually having a poster sale for $4.95 a poster. I bought an old, color blocked poster of the Brooklyn Bridge. There were some really cool posters with New York City maps, but unfortunately the color schemes weren’t my favorite… oh well. I could’ve spent an hour in that store.
We enjoyed sitting in the sun at Bryant Park, where there was an orchestra playing behind the library. Bryant Park is such a wonderful little spot in the city. People basking in the sunlight, fathers and sons kicking soccer balls back and forth, couples having picnics, and little girls practicing their gymnastics.
We went back to The Markle for lunch (the less expensive option compared to eating out for every meal).
After lunch, we went to check Matt into his room at Seafarer’s & International Hotel, just a few blocks away from The Markle. We walked the few blocks in the hot sun while carrying his stuff. That was fun. Sort of.
Perhaps because of all the walking, my blood sugar levels dropped and went a little low. This is one reason I love my Dexcom. Without today’s technology, I probably would’ve just attributed my sweatiness and being out of breath to walking a few blocks in the hot sun while wearing jeans. But nope. It was because my blood sugar levels were going down!
I was a little cranky at my numbers. I don’t like low blood sugars, because that means I have to take a juice box, sugar tabs, or something else sugary. It means I have to interrupt myself and those around me by stopping what I’m currently doing, find a juice box in my bottomless purse, drink it, wait fifteen minutes, and finally see my numbers come back to normal. So let’s just say I felt a little crummy after I had to interrupt my day with Matt with a sugar low.
Matt, however, always seems be a bit more positive than I am in this area. He always speaks up about how he wants to help take care of me. How diabetes will never be a burden for him, because taking care of diabetes takes care of me. He’s always more vigilant about treating lows than I am, too.
I have the bad habit of letting my numbers sit and hover in the 70s, maybe even 60s, because I know that at least it’s good they’re not hovering in the 180s or 200s. This, unfortunately, can lead to hypoglycemic unawareness. This happens when a person is so accustomed to low blood sugar that they fail to recognize or experience the usual symptoms of hypoglycemia (sweatiness, shakiness, weakness). This can lead to dangerously low numbers while skipping the warning signs, thus lapsing without warning into severe hypoglycemia, becoming confused, disoriented, or even unconscious. Obviously this is dangerous and frightening, especially for those around me, like Matt. He has been so good about encouraging me to treat my lows, even if I feel awkward or uncomfortable doing so in public. He assures me that he doesn’t look down on me when my numbers are out of range, whether low or high. He knows I do my best everyday.
So when I was cranky and feeling crummy about being low on Saturday afternoon, I was happy he was there to cheer me up. And not just with his words, but with a surprise, too!
Right after I had taken a juice to bring my numbers back up, Matt asked if he could see my hand. I was pretty confused. Why did he want to see my hand? Did he want to learn how to prick my finger? Did he want to see if I was still bleeding from my previous finger prick?
Instead, he told me, “This just seems like a good time to give you my gift… you need some cheering up. This ring is a ‘just because’ gift, but also to celebrate your internship with JDRF and all your hard work with your diabetes.”
You see, just after the SWD Conference, Matt and I were both so blown away by the diabetes online community. All the blogs, YouTube accounts, Facebook pages, etc. Matt actually started looking on Etsy for diabetes products. Over the course of a few days, he sent me links to funny keychains, diabetes alert jewelry, and other such items. There was one Etsy seller he sent me, Ccaria, who sold jewelry to raise funds for JDRF. On her page was a ring that she made to represent the blue circle that was created as a universal symbol for diabetes by IDF.
I usually don’t like using extreme statements, but I’m pretty sure this is the most thoughtful gift I’ve received.
And Matt, just so you know, you don’t have to give me presents every time my sugars make me cranky 😉
Later that night, Matt and I enjoyed our one fancy night out to Max Brenner followed by the Staten Island Ferry just before sunset (thank you Liz for the suggestion!). We got all dressed up to go to Max Brenner for dinner and dessert. My friend, Katie, who went to school in New York City for a few years, told me that Max Brenner has the BEST dessert and she was right on! The place reminded me of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, with brown pipes snaking around the ceiling and walls, perhaps even carrying chocolate? The atmosphere was very fun, very loud, and very close (our table was inches from the tables on either side of us). I immediately noticed after ten minutes that both candles on our table were burnt out. Looks like Matt and I carry on my parents’ tradition of always getting the table that’s a little off! We both ordered appetizers for dinner: Matt with quesadillas, me with my wings (only I would order wings on a fancy dress-up date). I just can’t help myself. They were delicious! For dessert we ordered the S’mores Concoction. Served like a science experiment, we received a humongous beaker willed with chocolate, marshmallow sauce, and whipped cream. On the side were graham crackers, burnt marshmallows, banana slices, and a small beaker of caramel sauce. We mixed it all together and ate our delicious concoction!
After Max Brenner, we headed to the Staten Island ferry for the 8:00 pm departure. My friend, Liz, grew up in Long Island and gave me lots of tips a few months ago when she heard I was living in New York City this summer. She told me the best thing you can do for free is take the Staten Island ferry. She recommended taking the ferry to Staten Island an hour before sunset (because you can watch the sun go down on the water) and hopping right back on to Manhattan (because the sky is dark and the city will be lit up). Boy am I happy she gave me this idea!
Sure enough, we watched a beautiful sunset on the ferry.
It was a bit cold, but it was a wonderful end to our date night.
On Sunday morning, Matt checked out of his hotel room and we headed to Levain Bakery on the Upper West Side. I had packed a lot of yummy food from Trader Joe’s for a picnic in Central Park, but thought it would be fun to pick up some baked goods. I ordered a blueberry muffin and Matt ordered a chocolate chip brioche. I still don’t know what a brioche is, but it was YUMMY.
We headed to Central Park and spotted some flat rocks on the other side of the lake. We spent a solid half hour wandering around trying to find the path to those rocks, and we finally found it! …only to find that some geese had already staked their territory. Just a few minutes of patience was needed, and the geese went back in the water. We sat on the rocks with our blanket and food and started munching away while watching the people on row boats in the lake. Apparently they only cost $12 per hour! (Mental note for next time Matt visits). About ten minuets into our picnic, an African-American couple was rowing past our rocks while two geese were sitting fairly close to our rocks. All of a sudden, a goose from the other side of the lake starts to rapidly fly straight towards the geese sitting by us. This goose, honking like crazy, flew right next to the woman’s head, seemingly straight towards us. The woman and I were both shrieking while the goose continued to chase after the other one. They flew away in the other direction, while the woman on the row boat exasperatingly shouted, “What the heck was that?!?!” while her husband was just laughing to himself.
What an afternoon.
It was great.
There was also a tiny, rapid-moving spider on our blanket halfway through our picnic. I jumped up and started hopping like a little girl who has to go to the bathroom while Matt crushed it. I’m a baby when it comes to insects. Especially eight-legged ones who move like the speed of light.
After our picnic in Central Park we headed to the Green Flea, just one street over from where we were in the park. We spent most of our day wandering around the dozens of booths selling antiques, handmade items, refurbished objects, and the like. I bought a really cute dress for only $30 and a ring for $10. Matt spotted some neat bookshelves made out of old doors, and I spotted a mirror completely covered in pennies.
After exploring the Green Flea, we went back to The Markle for an hour before church. I introduced Matt to Denise, one of the ladies that works at the front desk. (She’s my favorite). She talked to Matt and me for a while, asking how he liked New York, about our plans for the summer, and what not.
At 5, we headed over to church (Redeemer Presbyterian at The Salvation Army). I love that it’s just around the corner. And we got to hear Dr. Tim Keller speak! He preached out of 2 Peter on the Christian life and our freedom because of submission to Christ. It was a wonderful sermon, full of illustrations, stories, and inspirations to think about who/what I am submitting to. Like he said in his sermon, we are slaves to something. We’re either slaves to God or slaves to something else. There is no in between. But becoming a slave to God gives us the freedom to serve and love others as He enables us to. Powerful stuff.
After church, we headed to Times Square to find somewhere close to Port Authority where we could watch the World Cup and eat dinner. What seemed to be an impossible task at first (most places had waits of 2+ hours) quickly turned into a surprising delight! On a whim, I told Matt we should check out this Irish pub on the corner. We walked in and asked if they had a table for two. They did! They had four floors, each with TVs to watch the game. It was actually a nicer environment than a sports bar, as most people on our floor were eating dinner and not just drinking.
We ordered appetizers and watched American score two goals against Portugal and then in the last 30 seconds, Portugal scored… I’ve never gotten so into a soccer game before, but I was genuinely upset! Matt tried to explain various rules to me throughout the game, but I remained clueless. It was still very fun to watch and be surrounded by devoted fans.
After the game, we went to Starbucks right across from Port Authority for the last hour before Matt had to be at his bus gate. It was a nice ending to a wonderful weekend. We sat, talked, prayed, and had some time to let it sink in that we would be saying goodbye soon. We walked over to Port Authority, found Matt’s station, and got ready to say goodbye. Matt, being the protective one he is, walked me back to the Subway tunnel in Port Authority. He wanted to make sure I got into the Subway safely, as the bus station sometimes has some… interesting characters. We hugged and said goodbye in front of the Subway entrance.
It was a fast weekend, but a full one! Full of blessings, quality time with Matt, and lots of fun. I am thankful that he was able and willing to travel to New York City not just this once, but again later in July! And I am able to go home (to Lakeside) to spend the 4th of July with my family 🙂 This summer away of home won’t be so hard after all…