Saturday, December 11, 2010

Travelogue: New York

The more I go there, the more I understand why Nicole was happiest when she lived in New York. We had a chance to return this past week--for the third time since her accident two and a half years ago. And for the third time, we stayed at the wonderful New York Hilton, located in midtown, on Avenue of the Americas. To give you some perspective, it is one block from Radio City Music Hall, a couple of blocks from Rockefeller Plaza, a couple of blocks from Fifth Avenue, and a couple of blocks from Times Square. Perfectly situated in the middle of the universe for about a bazillion people who all came to New York this past week to do business, shop, see shows and to just be in the middle of the most spectacular Christmas displays I've ever seen. The city was alive, and so were we!

The purpose of this trip was for Nicole to do a testimonial commercial for New York Presbyterian Hospital--the place where her life was saved more than once, and where she was literally put back together again. Former Mayor Ed Koch did a commercial for them that was very well received, so they decided to get a few more former high-profile or big-story patients to come in and do the same. Nicole made the list!

Megan Poole, who was one of Nicole's personal care assistants, went with us. She is currently in the same theatre program Nicole went through at the University of Southern Mississippi. She was able to work around exams to make the trip, and we met up at the Jackson airport last Saturday morning for a big adventure. The star-studded trip kicked off with our connecting flight from Charlotte to LaGuardia...when disco diva Patti LaBelle boarded our flight! Of course, Nicole connected with her right away and by the time we parted ways, Miz LaBelle was telling me that Nicole was a "trip" and that she was full of  "spunk." Well ring my bell and tell me something I don't know!

After getting settled into the Hilton and eating dinner at a brew pub around the corner, Nicole and Megan took off in a cab to go to a birthday party for one of Nicole's friends in New York.

Sunday we slept in a bit...then got a special visit from Annalisa Meyer, a young woman who was a patient at NYP the same time Nicole was. The last time I saw her, she was in a coma, sick with a rare form of encephelitis. Today she is a bright, beautiful college student at Columbia in NY. What a joy it was to see her doing so well.

After a lazy morning, we ate our fill for lunch in Whole Foods at Columbus Circle.

Then we loaded up for a trip to Chinatown, where we spent all afternoon walking and visting the many stalls filled with scarves, wraps, hats, sunglasses, and all manner of enticing items. We bargained and haggled our way through blocks and blocks of shops before calling it a day. (Nicole was on her feet, walking the streets of Chinatown, for a good three hours...a miracle, considering she is not even two and a half years out from her accident!)

Monday morning a car picked us up at the hotel at 6:30, and off we went to Silvercup Studios, where Nic's commercial was shot. She got true star treatment, doted on by a wardrobe stylist, hair and makeup, and just general pampering and coddling. We all enjoyed the wonderful craft services area with made-to-order omelets and waffles!
It didn't take long for Megan and Nicole to figure out that one of their favorite shows, 30 Rock, is also filmed at Silvercup.
After seeing Tina Fey at the 30 Rock craft services table while they were making a restroom run, Nic and Meg giggled and laughed like school girls. As it turns out, Nic's makeup artist, Dierdre, knew the set designer for the show and she arranged for the girls to go on the set and meet Tina. THAT was fun...and Tina Fey could not have been nicer!
Monday night we met up with several of Nicole's friends who are living in NY...her former roomie and apprentice at Actor's Theater, Raffie, and USM friends Zdenko, Emily and Jake. We all went to eat some good NY pizza at an old school place called Angelo's. Afterwards, I headed to bed, while everyone visited in Nic and Meg's room.

Tuesday we had another early morning...we were in a car on our way to the ABC studios at Times Square at 6:30am. We had VIP passes to Good Morning America, thanks to my friend Stuart Kellogg at WAPT in Jackson. We were guests of one of the producers, and we were whisked up the Green Room to wait for the show to begin. Lucky for us, they had breakfast there, and we helped ourselves to bagels and coffee. When we were finished, we were escorted to the studio where we watched Robin Roberts and crew do the news and weather. I got to meet Bob Woodruff (the journalist who suffered a brain injury in a blast in Iraq), and we also met Steve Harvey, who was amazed by Nicole's story.

The big excitement of the morning, however, was watching the STING concert in the studio downstairs...we rode the elevator down with Robin Roberts (who I worked with 25 years ago at WDAM in Hattiesburg!) and the sweet stage manager positioned Nicole and Megan right in front of the stage! Here's the interview Robin did prior to Sting's performance (sorry, you have to watch the commercial first...):

After the show, a car picked us up and off we went to New York Presbyterian for a visit with nurses and doctors. It was a great visit...we got to see our beloved Mary Grace Savage, who Nicole really bonded with while she was a patient there. We also spoke with Dr. Stephan Mayer, who wants Nicole to come speak at a medical conference next year in Toronto, and Dr. Lee, who stopped his very important rounds to give Nicole a big hug. It was great seeing them all again, and so good for them to see how far Nicole has come since her days on a ventilator.

We left the hospital and headed for Fifth Avenue, where we soaked in the incredibly creative and detailed store windows for blocks and blocks. We went in stores like Juicy Couture and H&M, where the girls went nuts. So much fun, and it was great being in all that hustle and bustle with people Christmas shopping.
What recession???

And after all that walking up and down Fifth Avenue...we WALKED back to the hotel! Hallelujah!!!

That night we had a chilling ride from the hotel to the theatre where we had tickets to see The Addams Family. We met another of Nicole's friends from USM, Kermit, in the hotel bar for a quick cocktail before heading to the show. When we went outside around 6:30 to get a cab, the line was forever long, and the traffic was in gridlock. Not a good situation for us, considering the show started at 7pm. A guy on a little rickshaw bike said he could get us to the theatre faster than any cab, so we hopped in and hung on for dear life as he swerved in and out of traffic. But he was true to his word...he got us there in one piece and earned a big tip for doing so!

Seeing Nathan Lane as Gomez and Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia was a huge treat, and the show was even better than I thought it would be. We had first row mezzanine seats (thanks, NYP!) and it was like they were singing directly to us! We loved it.

Wednesday, we had to pack up and head home. It was a wonderful, magical, exciting, memorable trip. Megan is a wonderful travel companion and she was such a huge help to Nicole and I. It was a great experience for her as well, so good times all around!

As soon as the commercial is complete, I'll share the link so you can all see it. Until then, be sure to watch the story the CBS Early Show did on her last spring (if you haven't already). Feel free to share the link with your's an amazing story!

Blessings to all who read this!

1 comment:

  1. It never ceases to amaze me how blessed you each are. Love you bunches!