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Day 1: Anticipation

We awoke at The Pierre, a fancy suite in a fancy hotel at 61st and Fifth, across from Central Park. There is no coffee maker. The more expensive the hotel, the less likely there’s coffee in the room, says my mom.

I decide to go for a walk, perhaps the find coffee. The remnants of last night’s birthday cake for mom sit smashed in the living room. I pull on my yoga pants and head downstairs.

Outside, the air is muggy and energized, typical summertime Manhattan. I head into the park, thinking loosely I’ll aim for the castle by the lake where my cousin once told me she would marry. She had not.

En route, the dogs are glorious, some running full speed, others sniffing, a small queue of sorts gathering near one lamppost for sniffs. A dapper, white Scottie pauses on his jaunt up some stairs to sniff at my legs in greeting. I offer “Good morning, sir!” and his regal elder human minder chuckles in reply.

I cross a bridge and spot a bench on the other side. What I intended as a personal “Walden Pond” moment breaks with the sounds of maintenance workers, in a romantic rowboat, examining the underside of the bridge for repair. A person stops to ask me for directions. I perform the Pavlovian act of heckling my email and am lost for a bit in reading and replying.

When I arrive back at The Pierre, the coffee has been removed already, and Mom is nearly prepped for the day. We go downstairs, where we consume six small cups of coffee - each - before checking out the frescos and photos adorning the first floor. After I run out for a frustrating search of Walgreens (last minute this and that), it is suddenly 2PM, and we are off to Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, Dock 12.

The enormity of the vessel strikes me as the Uber argues its way down the FDR. I see it from a distance, but it dwarfs the boats and ships around it. The closer approach is off-putting, a collection of low warehouse buildings and clear industriousness.

Boarding is simple and yet confusing. Nowhere to drop off our bags, despite massive pallets of luggage moving around. We carry it onboard ourselves and traverse long hallways to our cabin, which is functional and mostly beige with navy accents.

The feeling on the boat is nervous and ready. People wander, some already in the pool, others already on their second (third?) daiquiri. A man in an aggressive t-shirt, Umbros, and no shoes wanders the top deck, clearly pleased with himself for treating this ship like a Carnival.

We pass under a bridge on the way out of Manhattan, and though our clearance is several feet, the optical illusion of a near disaster we all know won’t happen is still entertaining. We send photos and video to my Dad.

At dinner, we are seated a few tables from a window, very close to the tables adjacent. The nearest is quickly occupied by a couple from Dublin, with the middle seats claimed by another pair from London. We chat easily, everyone excited to share travel experiences and find common ground. The food is good; the portions unAmerican. We’re happy.

As we prepare for bed, I battle the balance of my instinct to over plan and schedule, and my vocal commitment to relaxing on this trip. I’m not great at relaxing.

Feeling: Anticipation

Food: simple and pretty good. I don’t think I will keep my food critiques in here all week.

Favorite: My mom putting her arm around my shoulders, squeezing, just after a massive blast from the ship’s horn set us on our way.

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