Living in the Immaterial World

One thing about being in an unfamiliar place is there is a lot of anxiety associated with it. We do it to ourselves. We get worked into a tizzy over imagined things when there is no reason.

You hear things and see things in TV about “the big city” in general and New York specifically. But they play on our fears and are mostly unfounded. A couple of people get mugged and a city of eight million gets a bad rap because we focus on that.

One of the things that comes up as an insecurity of mine is finding things – places, services, stuff I need. Just because I don’t know off the top of my head, I get nervous when I need to locate something, anything here. And it’s all unfounded.

For instance, I needed to ship something home. Where do I do that? Anxiety. Relax. Research it. Got online, I found not one, but two UPS stores on a street that I had gone down on the bus that very day. Problem solved. How to choose which one? One of them is at an intersection where I can get off the bus, go to the store, walk around the corner and get on a subway line and ride it one stop the the hospital. It was actually easier than continuing on with the bus to the end and transferring to a second bus.

I’ve just got to learn to go with it. Let it go. Que, sera, sera.

Tonight on the way to the hotel, I wanted to go to Radio Shack and look at something. I had seen a RS store before, just down Broadway, near the hospital, next door to the Tasty Deli, so I walked on over. Once I left, I could have walked back to the bus stop, but instead, decided to take the subway in front of the deli.

I went down into the bowels of the earth and got on the train. I knew it was one stop to 181st Street, but the next stop was not 181. I realized I had gotten on the wrong subway. A. 1. Red circle with the first character of a sequence on it. Easy to mix up, especially since they kind of run parallel the length of Manhattan. So I rode it out. One more stop. The next stop? 181st. But, when I actually came up out of the ground it was something like 184th. Not a big deal.

As I stood there, getting my bearings, trying to decide which direction to walk, a man asked me which way 181st and Broadway was. I laughed and told him I didn’t know and I was lost too. Another person pointed us in the right direction and we walked a coupled blocks together, chatting. After a few blocks, I realized I was further west than I was supposed to be, and if I kept walking down 181st, I’d get to where I had gotten off the bus that morning for the UPS Store. But this time, I needed to get on a different bus to go to a different hotel.

When I got close to where I wanted to be, I saw a bus stop for Bx35. Was that the one? Check my notes, no I want Bx36. Did I mess that up? It looked like the right destination. Then around the corner comes a Bx36 bus. Trust my note, I said to myself and crossed the street to wait there for the next one.

I got on the bus and sat down. Sort of on the edge of a seat. My backpack was loaded to the gills and I couldn’t sit back. I was also holding the bag with what I bought at Radio Shack. As the bus went on, it kept filling up. Few people were getting off, but more kept getting on. So many that I couldn’t see out windows very well. I couldn’t read street signs and had no idea where the bus was. But I knew I had to go almost to the end of it’s route, so I tried to relax.

I knew I wanted the intersection of Boston Rd. and Tremont. I also knew that that point would be underneath the elevated railway. So I hoped those would be enough landmarks. Relax. Don’t do it. Don’t get off the bus until it’s right.

The bus was on Tremont at one point, but no sign of Boston. In another place we were under the el. Still not quite right. The bus went on and on. Finally people were getting off more than were getting on, but there were still a lot on it. And I still have a lousy view of street signs and it’s totally dark now.

The bus pulled up to a place and stopped. Some more people got off and a guy got on, counted his change and got off. Couldn’t afford the ride. There is construction scaffold at the sidewalk, so I don’t see what is really there. I think construction scaffolds are the official flora of NYC. It’s popping up everywhere. The bus is clearly not leaving right away and the driver is fidgeting around. Not unusual. They sometimes stop at certain stops and wait for some sign known only to them. I think they are watching for a certain bus coming the other way to synchronize the schedule.

So, I sieze the opportunity and get up and talk to the driver. My insecurity finally gets strong enough to take over and overcome my zen, let-it-flow strategy. I asked the driver what street we were on. She said Tremont. I asked do we cross Boston Rd. and do we get near the Howard Johnsons there? She just points and says “This is Boston Road. This is your stop.”

Now that I’m up and standing at the front of the bus, I see out the windshield the sign of a Ho-Jo’s across an intersection underneath an elevated railway. Bingo! I thanked the driver and hopped off, just a short walk from my destination.

So sometimes you’ve got to trust yourself, sometimes, if you ask for help people will, and sometimes you just go with the flow and get lucky.

Just like on the way to Radio Shack. I had a winter coat, I had gloves I wasn’t wearing in my pocket, but I didn’t bring a hat and by gosh, it was getting chilly. I wished I had a hat.

On the street, a street vendor was selling knitted caps. I got me one. $5 and no more wishing. The flow provided.

Posted in NYC, Transplant

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