DIRECTOR NOTES: ARRIVAL IN NYC

Our latest stop on our journey has taken us to New York City. We arrived early Saturday morning on the first flight from Chicago to JFK airport. The plane ride proved to be exceptionally difficult for me, giving me a glimpse of what plus size people have to endure when they travel.

Seeing as this was the first time I have flown for many years, I was very excited. I even made sure I got the emergency exit row, to give me the mos amount of leg room possible. We began boarding onto the small domestic commercial airplane and I couldn’t believe how small the plane was. Everything was very cramped, it was almost a surprise everyone could fit on the plane.

I walked through the narrow aisle to my seat in row 12. The seats were incredibly small. For the first time in a long time, I had to squeeze into the seat. Even for my business partner, Alex, who is a pretty thin guy, it felt awfully squeezed sitting in them.

The hardest part for me was trying to put on a seat belt. I tried but was unable to get it on. I hesitantly had to ask the flight attendant for a seat belt extender, which it is hard to explain just how embarrassing it is to do that. He told me that it is company policy that if someone is sitting in the emergency exit row, they can not give him or her a seat belt extender. Apparently, you wouldn’t be able to operate the emergency door if you were that big, but that is simply untrue. For the sake of nt moving I told him it was fine. For the remainder of the flight, I was holding the seat belt, making it look like I was hooked in when I wasnt’.

This was extremely embarrassing and uncomfortable for me as I am sure you can understand. Once again, I felt like I was put down for being as big as I am. I was being told that I didn’t fit society’s image and therefore I cannot be comfortable, or operate a door. This is what millions of people have to go through every day. I am realizing just how much one must subject themselves to in order to do the simplest tasks, like flying.

After we got off the plane, we took a train to Pennington station, right underneath Madison Square Garden. There were two things that shocked me when getting off the train and walking into the station. First thing I noticed was the amount of people. There were thousands of people walking in every direction. Everyone moving through the massive station as if they were in there own little world. Here I am with all my luggage trying to figure out where to go, and I seem to get in everyone’s way. I was getting lost in the constant flow of people. Second thing I noticed was the smell. I was emerged into the scent of New York pizza, hot dogs and of course the seasonal favorite, roasted chestnuts. Every city has a special taste to it, but I have never been to a place where the smell of the food is so prevalent the second you arrive. The aroma walking through pizza shop after pizza shop, hot dog vendor after hot dog vendor, seduced me. The temptation grows stronger with each step. I fought to control my cravings and walk past without glancing back.

Last night we went to dinner with a family friend in New Jersey at a local favorite, Mastori’s. It is half bakery – half diner. The first thing we walked into was a huge room with a bakery to tantalize you from every corner. The selection of pies, cakes and pastries were massive and incredibly appetizing. Before we ordered, we were brought over what they called cinnamon bread. It was a huge loaf of warm gooey heaven. Three loafs were stacked on top of each other and were fresh from the oven. I fought to keep my hands off of them.

Seeing as how I had not eaten anything that day due to traveling, I wanted to order everything off the menu. I was warned about the portion size they served there and told to order light. Therefore, I just ordered a burger and fries. Maybe it was because I was so hungry or maybe it is my roots from Chicago, or because of the amount of food I normally order in a restaurant, the portions didn’t seem all that large.

As we were eating our meals, I noticed I was the only one in the group who had the possibility of finishing my meal. I began to feel bad for eating most of my food, while everyone else had eaten just half. Normally, I would be more embarrassed than I was and leave a good portion of my burger on the plate so I would not look strange or gluttonous. At this point I was so hungry I didn’t care how I looked when I was eating. I was hungry and I didn’t want to stop until I was satisfied. I am always worried about how people look at me when I eat a big meal. I become extremely self conscious and I force myself to stop eating before I am really satisfied. But while I was eating my burger, I said, who cares, I am starving and I am going to finish if I want.

— Barry Roskin Blake

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