“New York is an ugly city, a dirty city. Its climate is a scandal, its politics are used to frighten children, its traffic is madness, its competition is murderous. But once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough. ~ John Steinbeck
Sunday, June 30.
Driving east across southern Pennsylvania, I see a highway marker telling me we’re 122 miles from New York City. It seems foreboding, and exciting to see all three words spelled out like that.
I think we’ve been looking over our shoulder at this part of the road trip from day one, back in late April, when we found ourselves in Tampa, Florida, watching baseball. Watching Game One.
“Are we going to be driving across New York?” I ask.
“Pennsylvania, then New Jersey.”
“Have you ever been in New Jersey?”
“There are parts of New Jersey that are beautiful,” Vicki tells me. “We won’t be driving through those parts.”
The northeast has been as intense as we thought it might be. I find myself thinking of the softball game we stopped and watched awhile on the National Mall in Washington. And of the high school game I watched back home in Texas with Billy just before we started this journey. I miss pastures. I think I miss small ball. We haven’t played catch in awhile.
Despite our earlier promises to each other that we never would, we’re driving in to New York City. Much of the appeal of this baseball road trip has always been that we get to touch the four corners of this country, and criss cross the middle of it. And see it, and feel it, as much as we can, every moment that we can. So rather than stay out, and take the train in, we’re taking the Mustang in, and staying in. Somewhere near Time Square. We’ve booked the room.
“It’s Sunday, though. Right?” I tell Vicki.
“That won’t matter.” Vicki grew up in nearby Middletown, just outside New York City. Its name requiring three words seems to have my attention now.
“I mean, I know it’ll still be busy. But it is Sunday evening.”
“You won’t be able to tell the difference.”
“It’ll still be bad?”
“It’ll be worse than that.”
We drive across Pennsylvania awhile longer. We’re less than 100 miles out now.
“Wanna drive awhile?” I ask.