Feeling defeated I stumble back to Columbus Circle. My stomach growls, I’m dehydrated and the coffee I drank eight hours ago has worn off. I debate a bag of chips from the deli but want to return to Inwood before dark.
With a swipe of my Metro Card, I join thousands of New Yorkers in the evening commute. This is much more civilized than merging in and out of Minneapolis traffic. I follow the Uptown signs and board the train. Sinking into the molded plastic seat, I close my eyes for just a minute. I know better than to sleep on the train but in addition to my brain feeling fuzzy, my stomach hurts. The motion of cars, planes and trains has always soothed me and once we get rolling, I feel better.
Riding along, I listen as the conductor names the stops 72, 79, 86, 96. I don’t remember stopping along the Upper West Side on the downtown ride. Then again I am exhausted and Jane and I chatted incessantly. At 168th Street I get a little nervous and ask a woman if this train will stop at 200. She says yes it stops at Dyckman. I want to ask if Dyckman and 200 are the same stop. But I fear she will think I am Dorothy from Kansas lost in Oz and I keep my mouth shut.
When I get off the train, even in the dark nothing looks right. This is definitely NOT where Jane and I boarded the train. Where did Fort Tryon Park go? My mind defaults to conspiracy theory and I spend a few irrational minutes thinking I am on Candid Camera. Did they move everything around while I was downtown? Other than Dyckman, none of the streets sound familiar, Nagle, Thayer, Fort George Hill. Where the hell am I? I dig out my phone and call Jane to report my location: 5-way intersection off of Dyckman.
“I have no idea where you are, but I’ll come find you. Talk to Jack.”
Jack immediately knows I took the wrong train and knows exactly where I am (in a scary neighborhood). He instructs me to go west on Dyckman. He keeps me on the phone the whole time and tells me to walk fast since it is dark. When I get to their place, Jack reminds me that he warned me to stay west of Broadway this far uptown. There are rumors of drug dealers, and their 6’-0” tall neighbor was recently mugged outside that station. All of his camera equipment was stolen. Granted it was at 3:00 am. But still. It was enough to scare me senseless.
I once had a friend who suffered from self-loathing or some similar emotional ailment. Because she went through college having more lovers and one-night stands than I have fingers and toes. After graduation she and a hundred other people found God in a junior high school basement. By embracing Jesus, she was born again, re-virginized and suddenly God’s servant. Evidently this gave her the right to tell me I was hell-bound because, despite having stronger morals than she, I hadn’t embraced Jesus Christ as my savior.
Clearly, we drifted apart after that and I didn’t really think too much about our strange God conversation until I had to apartment hunt in Manhattan. Hands down, the most awful exercise in emotional decay and sheer frustration.
And if that was not enough … I have my first NYC date tomorrow … God help me!