Oddly Specific, OR First Days’ Whining about the City

I’m a firm believer in the Murphy’s law adage that anything that can go wrong…will. Because it applies to all life ever, all the time.

Or maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it only feels that way because we pay extra attention to inconveniences and slip-ups (and the occasional miniature ponies taking up space in what typically is a road, or the inevitable run-in with a locked door and 1.5-seconds-off timing with the security guard operating the remote-access lock from inside*) when we’re more stressed than usual, more pressed for time than usual, or — in my case — have a left foot that’s more sprained than usual.

[*These oddly specific examples are  surprisingly relevant to my life right now.]

I arrived in New York yesterday afternoon, and holy crap on a cracker, it was an ordeal getting here. At about seven different points between here and Houston, I wanted nothing more than to teleport back home (except I couldn’t, neatly explaining why I’m typing this up in a dorm room juuuust north of the Lower East Side right now).

I flew out of Hobby airport instead of my typical Bush Intercontinental — that was a mistake. Hobby is an awkward little thing. There’s nothing wrong with being awkward or little in themselves, except when you’re awkward, little, and an airport, you do things like 1) separate passengers into groups A and B, 2) line them up 1 through 60-ish in each group, and 3) tell everyone that the seats are first come, first serve!  Plant your ass anywhere you’d like! Passenger A8 wants an aisle seat? You go, passenger A8! Mmm, yeah, you GET that aisle seat!  (These lines are, of course, the marginally accurate products of some liberties taken.) Predictably, this caused all kinds of interesting tension among the people lined up at the gate.

I was passenger B53. There were literally 4 people in line behind me.

But miracles do happen: I got an aisle seat anyway. If you don’t want to instantly begin thinking of me as some kind of lowly, sniveling demon with exactly zero concern for everything ever, I suggest you skip immediately to the next paragraph before I tell you (SKIP NOW) that I kept that aisle seat at the expense of a woman who looked about 4 months pregnant. I was a bad person in that moment. I accept this with bowed, penitent posture (and you’ll have to take my word for it because you can’t see me~). I knew she’d probably have to get up and use the bathroom every other second or so, but even so, when she arrived at the end of my row, I got up and let her have the middle seat instead of scooting over one space. Bad karma, bad energy, bad everything, I know. Currently waiting for Zeus — or the Old Testament God or the Great Green Arkleseizure  or whatever you happen to believe is out there — to smite me with a thunderbolt or what-have-you.

Second mistake: I flew into Newark instead of JFK. I was planning on taking some sort of very convenient and well-placed train to the Newark train station to get on the NJTransit line into Penn Station in NYC, except — and I was wholly unsurprised by this — said train was down. I took a bus instead…the center aisle of which was promptly blocked by the suitcase of yours truly (I couldn’t help it, I swear), and I spent the entirety of the ride getting dirty looks from everyone else.

And then: My suitcase was basically the next-to-last to actually get to the baggage claim carousel. I arrived at the station half an hour early on a humid day. Train was absolutely packed. The God of Suitcase Justice had his revenge upon me as I tripped over a pile of baggage items in the aisle. The left-behind copy of Redbook I found in my seat informed me that if I were to buy a new swimsuit this summer, it should probably have a skirt because no one wants to see a giant ass. The escalator to the front of Penn Station was out. My cab driver didn’t actually know where my intended destination was. I was locked out of my building in a stunningly stupid example of awkward timing — the guards would unlock the door for a second, I would reach it too late, they’d unlock it once more, and I’d touch the door handle just as it the system clicked back to locked again. While without internet and while my roommate was out, my phone froze, and I had the pleasure of running through several scenarios in which being cut off from any form of communication is undesirable (that is, any scenario whatsoever). The clothes I packed are more casual than business casual.

And I had no pillow the first night. That was fun.

But you know what is actually fun:

The view out of my window. In a stroke of brilliant luck, my roommate and I were randomly assigned to a decently bright and spacious corner room facing three bridges — three!  — Williamsburg Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, and faintly visible in the distance, the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. One of the corners of said room is entirely made up of window. That is, we have a floor-to-ceiling corner window that, in all, looks to be a good four feet wide. The phone signal is best in that corner. It’s glorious. I like to stand there at night and call home while surrounded by little pinpoints of city lights.

I bought a pillow today (because I couldn’t bring one with me in my luggage…and also because I forgot to). You have no idea how happy that pillow made me when I saw it in the store. We were meant to be. I bonded instantly with it. It told me it loved me as I carried it through the store in search of bath towels. I’m a little upset with it at the moment because it failed to warn me that it would leave white fuzz on my black shirt if I hugged it to me instead of putting it in a basket, but I’ll live. Its name is Walter and we are friends.

– – –

Things I’ve learned so far: 

A camera store can shut down an entire block’s length of West 18th street just to hold a food-and-games fair. They can also bring in a petting zoo —

Also, middle school-aged kids sometimes duck under the subway ticket-swipe barriers to get free rides. If you’re too lazy to buy water by the gallon and too earth-conscious and money-wise to buy bottled water, Brita makes fabulous reusable bottles with built in filters for tap water. And it is entirely possible to get lost in a Bed Bath and Beyond, a store that seems to be composed mostly of Beyond.

Glimpsed on the streets and on the subway these past two days: Extremely well-dressed college-aged guys in skinny jeans and oxfords. Not a single Asian girl not sporting the ombre hair trend. An alarming number of people who closely resemble people I used to know. A woman selling lemonade with a bright, full-throated yodel (and I actually bought some).

Currently on heavy rotation on my iPod, OR tracks I listen to while out and about: “Love Love Love” by Avalanche City. “Suddenly” by Thirteen Senses. And a guilty pleasure, Demi Lovato’s “Give Your Heart a Break.”


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