Despite the fact that I make a real effort to have something posted every day (I’m close to 700 consecutive posts), finding material to post about can sometimes be a bit challenging. I can only bitch about the pitfalls and difficulties surrounding Diabetes so much, otherwise y’all would likely be of the opinion that I’m only ever negative. Which is not the case, by the way.
So today, I thought I’d keep things simple and simply write about something fun. Telling stories is as much a part of blogging as providing information, after all. In 2001, I had the opportunity to o travel to Japan and Okinawa with Sensei and a few other members of our dojo. It was the trip of a lifetime and even though I make a point of never living with regrets, I can honestly admit that I always wished I could have gone back, considering Sensei has been back almost a dozen times in the past twenty years.
Although I could fill a book with all the little details surrounding that trip, I wanted to focus on the aspect of our first stop on the way to the land of the rising sun: New York. The trip started in the very wee hours of the morning, with a drive into Quebec where we took a short-term flight from Mont-Joli to Quebec City. From there, we travelled to Montreal and then New York. All the bunny-hopping apparently made the overall trip less expensive.
Despite how tired and sleepy I was, I couldn’t contain the absolute excitement I felt at landing in New York. Besides the locals boasting being the greatest city in the world, I had spent most of my life seeing the city featured in television, movies and just about everything else. I had to seriously convince myself that Japan was the destination and that I couldn’t STAY in New York. We booked into a nice hotel in Manhattan and took to the streets.
Never one to pay for anything he didn’t need to, Sensei had us walk to a local neighbourhood that served traditional Japanese food. It was absolutely delicious and Sensei’s thinking was that it would start getting us into the groove for where we were headed. Then, we walked to the Empire State Building. Considering that up to that point, I had spent the entirety of my life in Northern New Brunswick and never travelled much past the Province of Quebec, I was on sensory overload and about as giddy as a teen girl who just won the cheer competition.
We purchased tickets to access the building and took an elevator ride that felt like forever. When we stepped out onto the observation deck, I was taken aback at how high I was and the amazing view that was spread out before me. The sun had just about set, and there was just a thin sliver of light on the horizon. Then, another site caught my eyes… I looked southward and saw a massive cloud of dust, lit up by powerful spotlights.
It was mid-October of 2001 and what I was looking at was the former site of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers. Even a month after their collapse, a heavy cloud of dust was still hanging in the air and could be visibly seen from two dozen miles away. It snapped me back to reality in the sense that it was my first time witnessing something terrible that I had only heard about through the media.
But I was talking about how I’m not always negative in the opening paragraph, so let’s get back to the trip as a whole, shall we? I stepped up to the protective fencing around the edge of the building and looked down. Big mistake. I was hit by a sense of vertigo that I can’t really explain. I’m not afraid of heights, but the height I was standing at made it look like I was staring straight down ABOVE the street, which obviously doesn’t make sense. But the perspective was freaky,
Once I was done trying to induce vomiting, we left the building and decided to hop a bus to get back to our hotel. Like something out of a bad comedy movie, we somehow took a bus in the wrong direction and ended up in Harlem. Some friendly and helpful locals were nice enough to direct us to the correct bus line and we were on our way. Despite doing the lost tourist thing, we made it back to our hotel in one piece.
We spent the rest of the evening relaxing in the hotel’s pool area. It would have been nice to explore Manhattan a bit more, see the Statue of Liberty, Central Park or one of many world-renowned museums located within the district. But after along day of flights and our adventures throughout the earlier hours, it felt nice to kick back and relax. The next day would see us board a 14-hour flight to Japan. Sleep was welcomed, especially in light of the adventures to come. ☯️