Her last day of classes were about a half day, and her flight left around 6pm. She decided that she would check out early and have the front desk hold her luggage so she could do the NBC tour and do a final walk around Rockefeller Center, and visit the shops that had always been closed when she walked by.
After her last class she headed over and walked around until her scheduled tour, and by accident found out there was an entire mall beneath 30 Rock. She walked around looking at everything, visited the bottom portion where the ice skating rink was. She wanted to ice skate but there was no where to store her purse, and she thought it would feel awkward in her big coat and purse trying to traverse the ice. She went to spend more time in the NBC gift shop and ended up buying a few more gifts for KSL. She honestly couldn't decide on just one, and knew if he were with her he'd be having a blast just looking over all the SNL items. She finally settled on a Weekend Update mug and decided she would need to put it in her backpack to make sure it didn't break.
She bought a "Radio City Music Hall" magnet for herself out of their tiny gift shop, and then headed back for the tour. She had wanted to stop into Magnolia bakery one last time but decided she didn't quite have enough time to sit down and eat anything. While she walked around she got a text from her mom saying that they were not going to let her into the airport or on her flight due to something called the coronavirus. Her mom also lost her mind during swine flu, so she laughed it off and continued on her way.
The studio tour was fun, she didn't regret going on it but she was left feeling a bit unimpressed. She walked around a bit more and did some shopping at Uniqlo, her favorite store that wasn't in her hometown. She purchased a shirt that felt amazing and she was angry at herself that she hadn't made more time to shop there sooner, as the shirt could've been worn the entire week and she would have felt more comfortable. Everyone had told her that it would be bitterly cold and she'd believed them, but she ended up just carrying her giant coat everywhere rather than wearing it. She made a mental note to order more online from this store in the future.
It was still early, but not early enough for her to really embark on a brand new adventure before she had to leave for the airport. She headed back to the hotel for her bags, changed in the bathroom to her new shirt and hoodie, then attempted to put her coat into her luggage. No dice, she couldn't fit it with all the gifts she had purchased for everything. Defeated, she headed out the door pulling up her Lyft app.
The doorman, who had been incredibly friendly throughout her stay, asked if she needed a ride anywhere. She was about to say she was getting a lift to the airport, when she realized he was gesturing to a taxi cab already parked out front. As her company was footing the bill, she supposed it didn't much matter how she got there. The driver launched her luggage into the truck, and she was imminently thankful that KSL's mug was safely in her backpack, which she held onto.
All the rides she had taken in New York all felt a bit chaotic, but also like the pulse of the city. It was like a ballet, everyone knew where to go and what to do.
That wasn't the case with this ride.
This man, who mostly spoke in a language she couldn't place, careened around the first few blocks as if the streets of New York City were his own personal pinball game.
"You pay cash" He stated to her, devoid of all feeling.
"Excuse me?" She said, taken aback.
"You pay cash."
"I need a receipt, I'm here on business."
"I give you receipt, you pay in cash."
"I don't think I have enough cash to give you. How much to JFK?"
It was literally all the money she had left. She hoped that she didn't need it at the airport for any reason.
When they got to the airport, after almost getting into three thousand accidents in Queens, he stopped in the middle of 3 lanes of traffic and put her bag on the curb so that she had to choice but to throw the money at him and go after it. She looked at the receipt and found an empty sheet of paper with an empty amount line and a clip art of a taxi cab, and nothing else. She felt scammed.
She found herself behind a Hassidic couple at TSA, and because she could, she watched them carefully. They didn't speak to one another, and they didn't even seem to have a connection beyond just existing side by side. He wasn't overly nice to her, and she didn't seem to expect it. It was fascinating to watch, this silent partnership joined only by faith...and not even faith of each other, just faith in their shared religion.
New York had been an incredibly unique experience, and strangely one that she was forced to experience all by herself. She both loved and hated that she'd been alone for the duration, but she had gotten to do exactly what she wanted as soon or as late as she wanted to do it, and for that she was grateful.
She would never forget her first time, and hoped it wouldn't be her last.