Monday, September 26, 2016

Goodbye, NYU Coles Sports Center

My old college gym is being torn down.

I chose NYU for its film school, but I probably spent most of my time at Coles.

My first week at NYU, in the Fall of 1982, I went to the student employment office to find a campus job. I saw a posting for a Weight Room Monitor, walked down to Coles, and was hired on the spot.

My supervisor was the wrestling coach. He said I looked like a wrestler. I hadn't planned on wrestling in college, but I said, "Well, in fact, I was pretty good in high school."

I invited a girl from my dorm to watch our season opener. I lost. But I ended the season with a 16-5 record. It helped that we wrestled schools like Yeshiva and Stevens Institute of Technology.

The photos below are from late 1982, in Coles. Coach Peckett is standing in front of the bench.

I only recognize one teammate from the photo below: Constantine von Hoffman, standing behind the chairs.

One time in the off-season a guy came to the wrestling room and asked me to wrestle. I said sure. About two minutes into it I thought, "This guy is horrible. It's almost like he's never wrestled before." It later dawned on me that he was gay and just seeking a little physical interaction.

My abbreviated wrestling career at NYU compelled me to continue wrestling after college, and eventually to move to Iowa to train with Gable and the Hawkeyes. That's where I met Jennifer. It wouldn't have happened if I hadn't taken the student job at Coles. So there is that.

I should mention the skinny dipping incident. The statute of limitations has passed.

It was at the end of my senior year. My friend managed the equipment room and had keys. We knew some girls on the swim team. There were probably a dozen of us. We stripped down and giggled and shushed each other and splashed around in the darkness, even jumped off the high dive a couple of times before panicking about the noise we were making.

Nothing bad happened. No one ever found out. But I can only imagine the insurance liability. 

Stupid kids.

Goodbye, Coles. You were a good gym.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

All good things must come to an end

Well, it was a good summer. Sigh. 

Here are all the things I did...

  • 5 trips to Hurricane Harbor
  • 2 beaches
  • 2 Central Park sprinkler challenges
  • 1 camping trip
  • 3 NEW waterparks (Kalahari, Aquatopia, Brownstone Park)
  • 1 Paul McCartney concert with Jen
  • 1 signed book contract ("Naughty Ninja Takes a Bath")
  • 1 bookstore story time
  • 1 trip to New Orleans for work (the Essence Festival!)
  • 1 freelance job extension (people say money can't buy happiness but it's amazing what paying one's bills does to relieve stress)
  • 1 high school graduation
  • 1 boy off to college

Much as I'd like to slow down this river of life sometimes, all we can do is create the best memories we can.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Brownstone Park!

Okay, so this is the coolest "water park" ever, it's only 2 hours from Manhattan, and I'd never heard of it until a week ago, when I was looking for excuses to come visit Samuel at Trinity.

It's an old quarry in Connecticut (between New Haven and Hartford) that filled with water back in the 1930s and sat dormant until some folks decided about 10 years ago that it would make a cool water park.

It makes a very cool water park: zip lines, inflatibles, cliff jumping, a water slide. Lines were short, and I liked the fact that it was in a natural setting and had an interesting history.

Here's what it looked like as a quarry:

See the house at the top of the cliff in the photo above (just to the left of the pole)? It's still there in the photo below.

You can see it clearer here:

Here's a nice POV shot from the top of the slide...

...and from the top of the cliff jump...

This was the last weekend of the season, but we'll be back next year. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

And just like that...

We rented a minivan on Wednesday evening, loaded it with Samuel's stuff: a new mini-fridge, new bike, new towels, suitcase of pants and shirts and socks and underwear, shoes, laundry bag, laundry detergent, desktop computer, laptop computer, desk supplies.

Just as we were about to get in the car, I said, "Wait, Jen, take our picture. Samuel, get on my shoulders." He laughed. I said, "No, really." Jen took the picture. We laughed, got in the car, headed out.

We drove north past the GW Bridge, through the Bronx, toward the Merritt. We sang karaoke via my mobile phone: "Mr. Sandman" and "Johnny B. Goode" from "Back to the Future." I did "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter" because I don't want him to forget what a great British accent I can do.

We stopped at Dunkin Donuts in Stamford, then back on the road and at our hotel in Hartford by 10pm.

It was rainy on Thursday. We moved him into his dorm room--a ground-floor quad, next to the soda machines. "Uh-oh, ground floor, you're going to have water bugs," I told him. He's going to need me to come stomp on them, I thought.

He has his own tiny room off a shared common area. "All right, photo op."

We unpacked and put everything away. Jen said, "We should get you a few more things from Target."

I think it was mostly a stall tactic. We drove to Target. We drove back. We ate lunch in the cafeteria. Samuel picked at his chicken. He's going to need me to help him find food he likes, I thought.

We walked outside. The sun had come out. I saw a banner that said "Welcome New Students." I said, "Stand right here. Photo op."

Then we looked at our watches, realized he had somewhere to be at 2:30, and we needed to get the rental van back. And...shit, this is it, isn't it? We hugged. He headed off toward his dorm. Jen and I watched him go.

And just like that....