After leaving Longus snorting.. er.. sleeping happily away at 5:30 am, I stumbled out of my room to grab a cab back to Bangor’s bus station. The next leg of my overland journey would total 11 hours of bus time. My call to the front desk the night before was a small victory after losing out on a cheap room at Motel 6.
“Yes, we can arrange a cab for you. It’s a complimentary cab as our guest at Ramada.” Sweet relief on the budget.
Come 6:00 am I grew nervous because the bus was due to leave at 6:30. Greyhound has been known to arrive early. After cajoling the young man at the front desk to inject some new life into my cab request, it finally arrived at 6:10.
I hopped in barking at the guy to hurry up, when he cheekily pointed out the empty streets. Heh. I always get a little jumpy about missing a bus or train, so sue me.
Maybe my panic was justified, once we pulled up they were already loading. Another mad dash to board before I was left behind with a gigantic statue of Paul Bunyan.
Bus rides for me are punctuated by zoning out, listening to neglected music, or sleeping. I cannot, for the life of me, write. That’s how I whittled away hours on the bus, between quick sprints to the restroom or snacking.
Eventually we made it through Massachusetts and onto Boston, where I had to disembark for 45 minutes at South Station.
The few visuals I saw of Boston intriuged me, seems like a place worth exploring one day. It felt expansive, a city tangled in tradition and loyalties.
Awareness level was down after a spotty sleep, let’s just say I looked less than perky.
After reboarding at South Station, my seat mate was a tried and true easterner, he pronounced it Bawwston. Made me giggle. He offered some tips on New York, having lived there for 8 years, even pointed out some neighborhoods as the bus wormed further into the bowels of New York. Always great to get insider information.
As for the city that embraces action and friction, the last time I was here I was 10 years old!
My childhood memories were many firsts. I saw my first large scale city. I unintentionally saw American Gigolo, an R rated film, but was thwarted by my Uncle. I officially became a woman. That sticky substance in my pants wasn’t due to a humid summer and unforgiving polyester. Life had arrived.
So had New York this time around. When I got to the Port Authority I felt swallowed by an urban snake. Loud, smelly, brash and bold. It was fantastic.
It took some coordination to find my cousin. After some hurried texts and a phone call, we finally met on a bustling corner off 8th Avenue. A congregation of humans enveloped me, along with the call of the urban wild. Car horns, drivers stopping and starting, fleets of taxis, concrete buildings thick as a forest, and the people. Imagine gathering a random cross-section of statistics based on gender, ethnicity, income level and street toughness into one pot of stew.
My first two nights would be spent in Queens, one of the five Burroughs. As my cousin maneuvered in traffic, we experienced a few near fatal accidents. It felt akin to an intense 3-D film or a hardcore video game. I had forgotten the functions of big, city life. Reminder noted.
The Queens Bridge was backed up solid, even on a Saturday night, so we had to take an alternate bridge. All in all, it took a neat 2 hours to make it to what is common in Canada: quiet, tree lined streets filled with mid-size homes. Equipped with tidy strip malls, of course.
The final few days were spent in Manhattan with my Aunt and Uncle. Walking the streets destroyed my feet, but lifted my resolve. I had promised myself to do 1 thing a day, not waste time. It reminded me of those first threads of planning this dream trip. Life shouldn’t be wasted, yet we do. Time is precious, but we spoil it.
Grand things were seen. The old favorites of Central Park, gawking at Times Square, art appreciation. The newness of meeting fellow travel bloggers.
America has always struck me as a place of extremes.
New York is a beast to reckoned with. The subway can be a quagmire, the congested air a stress on the lungs. But what I saw in all this division is a common thread. People will help (except cabbies). Numerous times I observed a native assisting another native, showing them how to navigate Canal Street or 86th and Lexington. Even which subway to take back uptown. It wasn’t just me, a very obvious tourist, but each other.
As I hobbled from the Metropolitan Museum of Art today, chomping on a pretzel what surrounded me was a spiritual glow. Sunset was approaching, a nippy wind touched my skin. I was heady with a city that affects you, whether negative or positive.
My short, adult stay confirmed something: I love New York.
Travel blogger in photo: Shawn of Rerunaround.