We couldn’t agree what to do for our last full day in New York so we decided to split up: Nick took John and Alex to the American Museum of Natural History whilst Teddy and I took on the Central Park challenge – there are 21 playgrounds in Central Park and our mission was to get to all of them. Going our separate ways just outside the museum we agreed to meet back in the same place 3 and a half hours later.
How naive we were.
Even when just spending 5 minutes in each one, Ted and I only got round 14 of the playgrounds and found ourselves on the opposite side of the park at the allocated time. I managed to hook on to the free wifi just outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art and sent Nick a quick message saying we would be late. He suggested we meet back at the apartment.
For most people, especially those who had already spent a week in the city, using the subway system frequently, this would be a sensible option. The trouble is that I genuinely have zero sense of direction and really hadn’t been paying attention – I couldn’t even tell you which subway line we needed. Not to worry – there must be a subway map at the station. Without any further ado, and with Teddy leading the way, we set off heading for 86th Street. Two things would have made that easier – first a street map and second a little more faith in Teddy’s memory of our walk to the same station just a few days before. Sadly, I had neither and seeing as my phone was no use to anyone, we winged it. I can’t tell you how embarrassing it is to be led by an 8 year old through New York, exasperated at your appalling sense of direction. What we learned is that whatever direction I start heading off in, I am usually 180 degrees out.
2 hours after we left we finally arrived back at the apartment to a slightly concerned Nick and a bemused John and Alex. In our defence, we would have been quicker if, having bought our metro tickets, we hadn’t gone through the wrong turnstiles and ended up committed to trains going the wrong way. After 20 minutes of pacing the platform and realising our mistake we exited, bought new tickets and started again – I tried to look for the positive: “You see Teddy, this is how we learn – we make mistakes and then we fix them and do things differently next time.” The worst part? When we were at the same station just two days earlier, Nick had stopped us from going through the wrong turnstiles, marched us out of the station, across the road and down into the correct metro entrance.
Teddy and I remembered that… As soon as we were committed in the wrong direction.