I step off the plane in Atlanta, and the first thought that crosses my mind is, “oh my gosh. I really hope New York isn’t this muggy. I’m going to be dripping all summer.” I make a quick pit stop at a restroom and catch my 2:40 connection to LaGuardia with a few minutes to spare. This leg of the flight is much shorter than the first, but my routine is the same: iPod, orange juice, and dozing in and out of consciousness.
Every time I fly, I am reminded of how easy it is for me now. When I was little, I used to cry and fuss from the pain of the cabin pressure change. My ears just couldn’t handle the takeoff and landing. But I fly so often anymore that I think my body has gotten used to it. Now all it takes is a yawn from time to time, and I’m good to go.
Before I know it, my iPod and I are halfway through the original cast recording of JRB’s Parade, and the pilot’s voice crackles over the intercom, telling us to prepare for landing. From my seat at the window, all I see is suburbia. My directionally-challenged brain has no idea if I’m looking east or west, but my best guess is that what I see is Long Island, or somewhere thereabouts. There are a few tall buildings but nothing like the Manhattan skyline that I’m sure is in view from the other side of the plane.
After a short wait for my suitcase at baggage claim, an airport employee directs those of us obviously from out-of-town to the taxi pickup out at the sidewalk and to the right. Standing in line, I feel almost like a regular New Yorker. There are two Chinese business men and a gorgeous African mother with her two kids. The baby is slung across her middle, and the little girl, who can’t be more than four or five, has a head full of beaded braids I would have envied at her age. A sixty-something woman with frizzy brown hair, a neon-pink pedicure, and enormous sunglasses strikes me as the uppity socialite who tries to look half her age. It’s a fun bunch.
My taxi driver is a middle-aged man with a fabulous accent. I think it’s Arabic. Bold as I can be, I don’t have the guts to ask him where he’s from, despite the fact that that’s the first thing he asks me. So much for looking like a native! I tell him I’m from Washington state—Seattle, actually. “Oh, the West! It is very beautiful there.” “Yes,” I tell him, “but not now. It’s cold and rainy.” He doesn’t believe me. “Well, it is good you come here. Summer in New York is very beautiful.” I love it already.
Windows down and sunglasses on, we dodge traffic through Queens and across the bridge. Anyone who has never ridden in a New York taxi has not fully lived. The drivers are crazy, but very capable. I laugh to think at how my mother would handle a ride in the back seat of this man’s taxi. She’d probably make him pull over and let her out. I just giggle and clutch my purse as it slides toward the front of the seat. There is a stupid grin on my face, and I’m sure that at this moment, I look like the ultimate tourist. I don’t care. I am deliciously, unabashedly happy.
Thirty dollars later, I’m standing outside 113 E 70th Street, and it’s all wrong. No pub below the apartment, and no student housing across the street. Hmph. I call Taryn. “I’m at the corner of…Park Avenue and 70th.” Wrong corner. I turn around and drag my ninety pounds of luggage four blocks east toward First Avenue. How did I get 113 stuck in my head? It’s 413. Fail.
Up to this point, my take on New York in June has been lovely. But weigh me down with suitcases, jeans, and boots—bad idea—and I’m toast. I let Taryn know I’m hoofing it, and she just giggles: “See you in a few minutes.”
This will be the summer of weight loss. For one, I’m the one paying for all my food and as such will eat frugally. It’s warm—as summers should be, even in Western Washington—and I will undoubtedly sweat. I’m also walking everywhere. And that includes the five—count them, FIVE—flights of stairs up to the apartment. I thought packing my suitcases this morning was a feat. Try lugging them up five flights of stairs in sweat-dampened skinny jeans and a shirt that is already sticking to your back. Needless to say, I made two trips. Jess, I’m gonna be in fabulous shape for that 5k! :)
The apartment is small but perfect. I can’t wait to get settled in. After meeting Taryn’s roommate and a friend of hers across the street, I make a beeline for the shower. I smile, remembering that the water is free, so I can take my time. There is something almost sacred about a nice cool rinse when you’re drenched in sweat and tired from a long day of travel. Now to find a way to keep the shower curtain from billowing in and clinging to me like saran wrap as I try to suds my luscious locks. Windows, maybe? After throwing on my jammies, I crank both windows open to let in some air.
Human again, and several degrees cooler, I sit down to my laptop and attempt to connect to Taryn’s wireless. Fail. An incoming text from my lovely friend says there’s Indian food in the fridge, and I’m welcome to it. Score. It’s delicious, and I revel in the thought that this city’s microwaved leftovers are surely superior to any Indian food to be had within a fifty-mile radius of my house. And chances are, the delicious little foodie haven responsible for my first-rate meal is probably just a block or two away. :)
But despite the abundance of adventurous food, my brain is still calm and back home—or in the dorms at Whitworth. A return to the bathroom confirms this. Obviously, modesty is not at the forefront of my thought because lo and behold, I can see my neighbors’ windows! All three floors of them! Note to self: check to make sure your windows are closed before going to the bathroom, especially at night! I’ll remember this for tomorrow. Hopefully, no one was scandalized.
And so ends the first day of my adventure. Now it’s time to pull out the futon and get some shut-eye. I have two job interviews tomorrow. But more on that later!