Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bachelorette Out On the Town - NYC, part I

Long, long ago now - seems like forever! - I enjoyed a lovely weekend with friends to celebrate my upcoming wedding. 

The bachelorette party took place on April 20, 2013 - six months out from the wedding. It may seem a little odd to have a party that far in advance, but there were a few reasons we decided to do things that way. First, the friends who went to the bachelorette party were from everywhere - all three bridesmaids, from NYC, Philly, and San Francisco, and my college friend M, who is also from San Francisco. With me coming from near Boston, and them flying and driving in from various places, we knew that it would be a lot of work for everyone to get there - we didn't want to hold the bachelorette just a few weeks before the wedding, since we couldn't expect everyone to come in for a separate event that close to the wedding. Second, we knew that all of the girls coming to the bachelorette party wouldn't be able to make it to a bridal shower, so this would be an all-in-one event, of sorts - it was easiest to make it well in advance of the wedding, so that we could all see each other and really enjoy each other's company. And to be honest, part of the decision was a little selfish - I knew that closer to the wedding, things would be starting to get stressful, and finding time to get to a "destination" party wasn't going to happen if it was in October!

For the bachelorette, we chose to all meet in NYC. It was a pretty easy decision to make, although I remember some discussion at the time. With bridesmaid Y living in NYC, bridesmaid A living within driving distance, and MOH M having lived there before (and still having friends there), it was simplest to just meet somewhere that was a middle ground for most of us. It was going to be an easy bus ride for me, so it seemed like a great idea.

Fast forward to April 19, 2013 - the day I am set to take the bus to New York. Earlier that week, a major tragedy had happened right here in Boston - the Boston Marathon bombings. Brendan and I were actually up in Maine that Monday - we had gone to the marathon before, but went up to one of our favorite places in Maine that day instead. People who don't live near here may not remember the drama of that week quite so vividly, but the entire city was brought to a stop that week - first by the bombing, and then by the manhunt that ensued.

On the evening of Thursday, April 18, the FBI released the images of the marathon bombing suspects. We were sitting at the television that night, and watched as they released the images of the suspected bombers. 

As we watched, and I packed for the upcoming weekend, it didn't occur to me that the press release and call to the public to help might have any impact on our plans for the weekend. Like the rest of the country, and particularly our state, I was focused on the situation and thinking about them finding the suspects.

The next morning, as I headed out to the bus station in downtown Boston, I noticed a definite air of.....quiet on the streets. It was only 6 am, so I didn't think too much of it, and as I got to the station, things were pretty normal. I grabbed some breakfast and sat at my gate to wait for the bus. Other buses came and went, and plenty of people were at the station. Things seemed normal - until all of a sudden, several men in uniform came through the station.

The officers told us at first that for the time being, we needed to leave the bus station, but everyone thought that we would be allowed back in and the buses would be leaving, if a little late. After some time outside, though, they told us that the bus station was going to be closed for quite some time - hours, or maybe all day. That was when I panicked a bit - not just because I would be missing my trip to NYC for the bachelorette, but also because my car was on the parking deck at the top of the building. If we couldn't go back in, I wasn't going to be able to get home, either!

Finally, I was able to talk the officers guarding the door into letting me go in to get my car and leave town. This was great - I really, really didn't want to be stuck in Boston during a manhunt, and I also had a chance to drive to NYC instead of taking the bus. I will always remember walking through the station that day - completely empty, with men and women in uniform walking up and down the halls with guns. I made very, very sure to let each person know that I was just going to get my car. The whole experience was absolutely terrifying. I have never been happier to get into my car!

I hit the road and got on the Mass Pike, and just kept driving. The entire trip to NYC, I was on the phone with either Brendan or my parents, checking in on the news. I had NPR on for as long as I could, until I started picking up Connecticut's NPR instead, and they were covering something totally different (seriously, Connecticut?!). I kept hearing from people that the highways were being shut down, but although I saw patrolmen at literally every single exit along 95, I never saw the roads being closed. It seems that 95 was indeed closed along a lot of the route from Boston to NYC, but each area was closed about 20 minutes or so after I passed it. I was so very, very lucky not to be stranded in the middle of Connecticut!

When I finally made it to NYC and found parking, I had a chance to catch up on the news. It seems that while I was driving along 95, a manhunt was going on in Watertown. The streets around the shopping center I used to go to when I was at BC looked like this:

Photo credit: The Guardian

I didn't see as much of the media coverage as most people in Boston did since I was driving, and since it took some time for me to actually make it into the city, but I certainly lived the news that day. I still can't believe that I made it out of the bus station and onto the roads before everything closed down! I was happy to find out that they had caught the second bomber, too.

The evening of the 19th, I spent some time with Bridesmaid Y at a bar, then a restaurant for dinner. It was great to catch up and to meet her boyfriend for the first time. We spent a while talking, and headed off to bed for the big day ahead!

Up next: the actual bachelorette, with a lot less drama than the day before!

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