I do this just often enough now that it’s lost its foreign quality.
Coming back there will be a bit of a scramble to ensure I get on the right train, but going in, I know the deal now. Enough, at least, that I can be troubled whether the lady meant to get off at Newark Penn vs New York Penn. Only because, like me, she was on a day ticket, not a commuter pass.
She’ll be fine. If she’d needed help she’d have asked. I need to worry less.
Somewhere farther down the car, someone is playing music. Something familiar. It takes me a minute to place, to pull the right name. Tape Hiss, I think. Maybe. Without earbuds I won’t check my music on the train to verify … but if that’s not it, it’s something very like it, anyway. Stuyvesant. Wait, is that right? It must be, because it’s definitely not Cuppa Joe.
Fifteen more than 25.
Forty to almost-50. I am slightly more almost, though. . My almost-50 is someone else’s almost-60… Don’t. Just don’t. It doesn’t serve.
Closed eyes, and the realization that I’m tired; I could sleep on the train. Also don’t.
Arrive NYC, the bottleneck of the staircase, then the steady upward press, follow signs to the 7th Ave exit. I could cut through the LIRR section and come out where Bill always takes me in, but I don’t trust my bearings.
Rote now: out on 7th. Straight down to 6th. Enough changes between visits that I feel lost even though I haven’t made any turnings, until I see Greeley Square signs. They are visible before the smaller, higher sign for 6th.
Cross the street, cut thru Greeley, disrupt pigeons and hope to arrive at work unpooped upon, then down to the corner and cross halfway back.
Lynn would say I was just trying to get extra steps but really, it’s a physical buffer for a mental reminder: the first time I turned on 6th and simply headed up toward the office, unaware that 6th and Broadway would do a grapevine step, crisscrossing under my feet. I didn’t notice, I was starting to watch the street numbers go up. Then arriving at the right address number but the wrong place, hating New York that much more for how stupid and lost I was.
Safely directioned, I am back to prior thought, friendship as math problem. I am 1 more than that one, and 10 less than another, while 13 less than still another.
Prayers, then, because they are back in a hard season and need them. Direction, guidance, wisdom, clarity, strength.
Just 1 block after my feet start to hurt, I’m at the office. Shared elevators without greeting or acknowledgement. The city; I don’t expect otherwise. I whisper good day wishes when they exit anyway, knowing it marks me as from out of town. My floor then… Keycard doesn’t let me in. Settled at last in the cubicle between the restroom and the kitchen. Noisy.
Here we go.