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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

THE LONG JOURNEY ENDS!

The day started out promising, that is until I got out of bed. After 6 years, #2 Son, Michael was getting his sheepskin, the biggest event since his birth. Today he would walk out on a stage somewhere in White Plains and claim his place in the world, all we had to do was get there.

Being a seasoned traveler, I know that any trip more than ½ hour requires planning and getting there with plenty of time.  All too often I am ridiculed for giving too much time to an event by arriving earlier than we need to.

We needed to be in White Plains at 11:30 AM, so we left at 9:00 AM for this trip that takes 1 ½ hours on a bad day.

But first, we need to pick up #2’s girlfriend, Julie. This will divert us for a 15 to 20 minute out of the way trip, but still plenty of time. Picking up Julie we then begin the journey. About 15 minutes on the HOV lane, I get the following news: “Joe! I hate to do this to you but I need to go. Can we stop at a McDonald’s so I can use the restroom?” I looked at the possibility of using a Burger King, but thought better of it, she does like McDonald’s better than Burger King, then who doesn’t?

We find a Starbuck’s and as she goes in, making her a little upset since she doesn’t like their coffee or prices, as I look for a non-existent parking space, this is started to get ominous somehow. Finally, she returns to the illegally parked car and we continue our journey when we are one exit away from the Cross-Island Parkway. We stop. No one needs to go, no one wants to go that way, we want to go the right way, as driven. We inch now to the Cross-Island, inch by inch, slowly, we will start to lose a chunk of time, but no worry, we still have time built in, we can still make it. After a half hour, we reach the Cross-Island and slowly, inch by inch merge into traffic, It is starting to get a little dicey with the time. As we crawl, I realize that a majority of the traffic is heading for the Throg’s Neck Bridge. I wormed my way over to the outer lane and think I will head toward the White Stone Bridge, then shoot straight to exit 13 and the Cross-County Parkway. This is looking like a great idea, as I fly past the Throg’s Neck Bridge and all the cars bogged down at the exit, miles before even getting there! ‘SUCKERS!’ I think as I proudly zip away leaving them all in my dust!

WHEEEEE!!!! I go, that is until about a mile before the White Stone Bridge!

“Oh, $#!T!” That is bogged down too! And worst, everyone has the same idea! We are at a dead stop, it is now 11:30 AM! There is no time left to play with. Now every delay will put us in jeopardy as we wait. I decide to do something I NEVER do, cut in on the line! This is an emergency, for all these years TLW and I yearned to see that moment when he gets that diploma, and now because of a bunch of morons on the road, we will miss this incredible triumph of the human spirit. The dance of the move up inch by inch begins as the long line for the bridge bogs down to a stand-still. I creep up each inch, and to keep poachers out of my territory when the car in front of me moves, we move instantaneously, NO ONE IS CUTTING IN!

Meanwhile, the temperature outside is 95º and the air conditioning is full blast, people in the back seats are complaining so I up the fan, and so we crawl onto the bridge and reach the Hutchinson River Parkway, now with 15 minutes left to spare.

All through this process, I see we will be 10 minutes late, and wonder if we will even be allowed into the building if we are. I think back about how hard #2 Son had worked both scholastically (making Dean’s List a number of times) and the difficulty of holding a job and traveling between the campus and his work and home in Brooklyn. It was starting to get me angry and yet I wanted to cry for all of us in the car, for him, his brother who flew out from Burbank, Ca., and most importantly, his mother who stayed the course with him every step of the way. Yet here we were at the end of the journey, almost, just a few more steps, and it would be all denied to him like the World placed it in front of him and as he reached, snatched it away! A cruel joke if ever there was one.

Finally, we reach the building, and #2 says: “Don’t expect me to run in and try to get in there!” Of course. Why not.

OK, Mike, we will drop you off at the curb and look to park the car, just go into the building and graduate! But first, he has to have a cigarette!

Mom helps him along: “MICHAEL! PUT OUT THAT DAMNED CIGARETTE AND GET IN THERE AND GRADUATE!”

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