It was in the early morning hours of August 16th, 2011. I was making my way down stairs well prepared for my trip with my daughter to New York City. It was her 10th birthday and we would celebrate it together by taking a day trip to the Big Apple.
As I descended the staircase I could hear the faint trickle of light rain on the rooftop and became a bit discouraged. I peered out the kitchen window to assess the current state of the weather and could see droplets of water sliding down the glass in the early morning gray light. “Just a shower”, I thought to myself wiping the sleep from my eyes.
“Are you still going today?” my wife asked as she poured herself a cup of coffee. She knew I had been planning this day for quite some time and wondered if Mother Nature choosing to pick a fight with me at the last-minute was going to change my mind. But that mother-nature bitch was going down today. “Yeah, we’re still going”, I replied as I filled my cup. Indeed, today was going to be a good day.
Arriving in New York City, Jillian and I immediately took the “N” subway south to Canal Street. We were most definitely on a mission. Our goal was to visit The Wooster Street Social Club and Megan Massacre from the TLC show NY Ink. Of course, if you’ve been playing along at home, you already know that it’s my goal to get on the show next season and get tatted by Megan.
We got to the shop just as it was opening at 11am. Inside, I noticed Billy DeCola, the “apprentice” from the show, mopping the floor. For a minute I forgot that this actually was a place of business and not just some studio with actors in it. Surely, a big star like Billy would be having his nails done or reviewing a script or something but pushing a mop?
We wanted to hang out and see if Megan would show up. It would be a long shot but we knew that going in. She usually only comes in if she has appointments.
Since her assistant handles all of those there was no definite way of knowing. Billy told us that she usually comes in around 1 or 2 if she has appointments so we decided to go grab something for lunch and then come back afterwards.
After lunch, we made our way back to Wooster Street under dismally gray clouds (but no rain) to wait it out. And we waited. And waited. No Megan. At one point Billy offered to send her a text to see if she was coming. She texted him back and said she’d be coming in shortly. So we waited. And waited. Surprisingly, no one from the studio seemed to mind our loitering. On the contrary, they were all hoping right along with us that Megan would be in.
It wasn’t long before all the water I had been drinking all day had warranted a trip to the restroom. After finishing up, I opened the door to exit and saw that the person we had waited hours to see was now standing behind the reception desk. Megan had arrived and Jillian was oblivious to it.
I quickly called Jillian over and we both got to meet Megan. We did the photo-op, had her sign a few things and discussed our love of the show.
It was at that point that I also needed to take care of some business. So I told Megan that if I get on the show next season I wanted her to be the one tattooing me. To which she said she would be honored to.
There was indeed a feeling of victory at having accomplished our mission, albeit we had to wait a few hours. But before making our way back uptown and the long bus ride home we decided to stop down and see the World Trade Center site.
With the 10th anniversary of that horrible day arriving and having never been to the site at all it seemed appropriate to pay our respects.
I must admit that I am definitely not the best person to go along with when trying to follow a map. Black Beard the pirate can rest easy in his watery grave knowing I’d never be able to locate his booty. On more than one occasion along the way Jillian was miffed at her father’s inability to maneuver the streets of Manhattan.
Eventually though, and with the help of a local at a Starbucks, we found our way there. We stood in awe looking at the new Freedom Tower under construction with its steel beams rising into the New York skyline. About halfway down the street was a preview of the 9/11 Memorial that is set to open a few weeks from now so we went inside to check it out.
Truth be told, it was very hard not to cry being reminded of all the horrible events of that day so I didn’t even try. No one, no matter how tough or how many tattoos they have can look at this and not walk away a different person. Life is too precious.
As we made the trek uptown and prepared for the long bus ride home, the sun finally began to come out from behind the clouds. What started out as perhaps a rain dreary trip actually ended with sunshine. And hope.
I peered out of my window seat on the bus as Jillian fell asleep on my shoulder and watched the Manhattan skyline fade into the distance. This was definitely one birthday we’d both remember for a long, long time.