Fear came over me. My mind was clouded, my heart was racing, my hands were sweaty and my legs felt like jelly, yet I hadn’t even reached the train station. I hadn’t even parked my car yet.
How did I get myself into this situation?
Traveling to an unfamiliar city sounded like a good idea as I was home eating ice cream while daydreaming about my new-found love to travel and make memories. But now that I’m two traffic lights away, I’m beginning to rethink this whole plan. I mean, I’ve been to New York before but it was always either traveling with my mom and her friends as a child or me driving there as an adult. And always within my comfort zone. I was in control. As long as my tank is full, my phone is charged and I have money on my EZ PASS, hopping in my car and driving through the Holland Tunnel was a piece of cake.
This is a whole other world for me!
Living in an urban neighborhood, you often find people who rarely leave their environment and/or community. Even places that are only a few towns over. For many reasons but the most common is comfortability and the thought that they may not fit in anywhere else. So traveling to New York and visiting “The Village,” SoHo, Central Park and experiencing those different “lifestyles” is only a dream to some! I lived and was raised a certain way and let me tell you, eating Sushi, using the entrée fork and skiing in Aspen isn’t common lifestyles I’m used to seeing day-to-day. These are all things I dreamt of doing and making my “norm.” Making a dream a reality is nerve wrecking and life altering.
I mean I would’ve drove to the City (as usual) since it’ll take 30 mins to get into NY by car and by train. But I run the risk of using all of my time attempting to find parking (or not).
I had the option of leaving my car parked in my driveway and walking to the Brick Church Train Station or driving Downtown, parking my car and walking to the train station. I chose the latter. Last week I made the decision to take the train into the city to make my experience “real” and meaningful. I have always had a vivid and elaborate imagination since I was a child so I tend to dramatize how things will “pan out” often.
After driving around for several minutes searching for a parking spot without a meter, I finally found one. No need to complain. I mean I was in Newark, Downtown to be exact. Parking down here.. who was I kidding? I would’ve park anywhere but the last thing I needed was to come back to my car being broken into or missing being somewhere in somebody’s Towing Garage.
Should I just turn around and go home to my pjs and bottle of wine?
This is what, my 5th attempt to make this happen? I am a single mom to 5 children. Leisure time one rarely happens for me. The everyday stress and demand from life had been taking a toll on me. I have no support system and no help. I work Full-time and I needed a break. I presented a proposition to my children’s uncle (my brother-in-law. No I’m not married. He’s their dad’s younger sibling). I offered to pay him $5 per hour plus access to my fridge and pantry to watch his niece and nephews every Sunday for 4 hours. He said YES and was very encouraging of the idea. He was happy to see me taking time out for myself. This would be my day to “explore and try new things.”
What should I do and where would I go? Is what came to mind when I was planning the week before. I called my then Bestfriend. She said “Girl, you can do anything! There are lots of places you can go, you know I have ideas. I’ll even come with you.” These all sounded surreal and as just “thoughts.”
I am a very indecisive person so making a decision is sooooo hard for me. But I am very disciplined so once I decide I stick to it!
Four weeks ago I was supposed to take the trip to New York but I chickened out. I made it all the way to the train station but ended up sitting in my car. I came home and my children’s uncle asked what did I bring him? (He meant a souvenir) I lowered my head and said “I didn’t go.” He laughed and shook his head.
The week after I attempted to try again but changed the plans last-minute and decided to visit Hoboken. I went with my brother and a close friend. We ate at East LA, a local restaurant with good food and even better DRINKS! Their Buffalo wings were on point and their Sangria was very tasty. When I got home he asked again, “did you get me anything?” I gave him a look and he said “don’t tell me, you didn’t even go to New York.” I just shook my head.
The next week… yet another failed attempt. I found myself back in Hoboken with my then Bestfriend and her close friend. We visited Starbucks and did some sight-seeing.
I did purchase a cool bracelet from a nice lady who sold eclectic jewelry from her vendor cart. The bracelet had my Zodiac Sign on it. I picked up a necklace for my children’s Uncle, he’d like this I thought. While in Hoboken we did stop in Carlo’s Bakery.
He’s the star of a popular TV show Cake Boss. I bought his famous Cookies & Cream Cake to try with my children and the Red Velvet Cake to try with my Boss and Coworkers (they are foodies, as I am!) Once I reached home I gave their uncle his Souvenir and he said “so how was New York?” I told him “I never made it, I bought this from Hoboken.” He just went home. Lol.
Last week I truly did have intentions on going. I got up enough nerve to just do it! So I thought…. I called my then Bestfriend and she asked what am I doing? I said I’m supposed to be going to New York. She said okay, it doesn’t sound like you are going. Smh. She was right. I wound up in New Brunswick with her and we went to World of Beer, a local pub instead.
These were new, great and exciting experiences. But they were controlled and comfortable experiences. They weren’t “THE Experience.”
I thought to myself “No! Asia, you’ve come all of this way and you are not turning around now.”
Okay! I tripled checked my car to make sure it was locked and armed, its condition and it’s location then I started on my way.
I am a very, shall I say “weird” woman. I am a nervous wreck when it comes to the unknown, being out of my comfort zone and when I’m not in control. So you can only imagine how I’m feeling right now. I put my headphones in my ear, opened my Spotify App and blasted my music. I walked a few short blocks to Newark Penn Station. (if you are familiar with Newark, NJ short feels like long when walking Downtown)
As soon as I arrived, I headed to the ticket machine to purchase my ticket. I didn’t have a specific destination in mind, I just knew I was headed to “Take on The Big City.” I read the overhead projector that displays train information, located my train number and headed to the correct track. After waiting several minutes, I asked another passenger if this was the correct track for train number 602? He said “No!” and pointed to the opposite side. And course with my luck, there’s a train already boarding. “Crap!” I said. I asked the helpful gentleman, “How do I get to the other side?” He politely instructed me and now I’m speed walking, hoping not to miss the train. I finally made it there and guess what? Yes! The train had departed already but even worse, it wasn’t my train…. talk about being annoyed. I was so beyond that.
Anyway, after catching my breath, I put my headphones back on and continued to blast my music. The train finally arrived and I joined the crowd of loud, anxious and fast-moving passengers boarding the train.
My train arrived to New York, 14th St. Station to be exact. I stepped off the train and headed up the steps and out of the station. It was so bright compared to the darkness of the subway. My eyes adjusted but for some reason my body isn’t cooperating as easily as it normally does.
New York is the “City That Never Sleeps,” so the “Hustle and Bustle isn’t anything new to me. In fact, I remember being at work one day and one of my boss’ friends came to visit her. At some time during the visit, he said to me “Hey, I know you!” I was clueless. I didn’t remember meeting him prior to now. He said “You’re the lady who walks fast.” It turns out he is a teacher at my two little one’s school.
I live a crazy, hectic and busy life. Juggling working full-time, raising 5 children all alone, maintaining a household, a car and everything else you can only imagine. I have no support system so everything falls on my shoulders. I’m always “on the go” and I’m an habitual planner. When you see me I’m always walking fast because I make use of every second, every minute and every hour that I have. The times he sees me is usually in the mornings with me dropping my children off to three separate schools then heading to work. Or during my lunch break I’d pick them up and rush back to work.
Today, I had every reason to walk as slowly and as freely as I chose to. I mean the fact that I am paying a teenager to look after my children and out of respect for the family I’d want him home at a decent time and I still have to get home to cook dinner is fresh in my mind. So technically I’m still “on the clock.” But for now I’m going to relish in the Moment!
I took my time to view the city and did alot of sightseeing. Installed with no destination in mind. It was refreshing. I stopped in a few stores and did some “window shopping.” I walked past a famous footwear and decided to look around. I ended up buying a pair of Converse (the only sneaker I’ll wear besides Keds) and a pair of wedges, Summer was approaching.
My time was winding down so I sat on a nearby bench until it got closer to my train’s arrival time. After a while, I walked back to the train station sloooowly. I passed time by stopping in a Duane Reade to purchase a bottle of water. Normally I’m so pressed for time that a line with 5 people is too long of a wait for me. This line has about 10 people in front of me and it didn’t bother me. Well, it did because I’m so impatient… but I didn’t need to rush is what I’m getting at!
I finally reached the train station, boarded the train, put my headphones in and started my playlist. During the ride back to Newark Penn Station I had a lovely conversation with a friendly woman. She told me she was visiting America from the Caribbean. She said she purchased an unlocked cell phone to use while she is here but it holds 2 sim cards so she’ll be able to use it when she goes back home to her country. She was excited to have her dream of visiting New York come true. I also told her of my adventure of traveling to New York alone. It was s delightful conversation.
I arrived back to Newark Penn Station and headed back to my car. I was excited and elated. I did it! I conquered my fear of traveling alone. I stepped out of my comfort zone, I set a goal and accomplished it.
This is a HUGE step for me and only the beginning!!
Stay tuned for part 2: Miss Lady Journeys to the Big Apple during Rush Hour.