I had a stupendous weekend in New York City. If you only have 48 hours to spend in any city, this will always be my recommendation. But this isn’t a post about New York. It is an honest account of what it can look like to travel alone.
Shall I regale you with the story of trying to get home? Prepare yourself, because it teeters on the dramatic side.
The f train (accurately named), which is the only train to take out of east side without a 1.5 mile walk, was running slow. And by slow I mean 20 minutes late. That’s okay. It eventually came and I jumped on, squeezing between the packaged commuters. I was able to jump off at the correct station and got turned around looking for Penn Station. Luckily I have a great sense of direction and only got lost twice.
It got crazy on the train from the beautiful city of New York to the now known clingy city of New Jersey.
I hopped on another full train to cross the water into the unknown that would bring me to the holy land (or the airport). After buying another bus pass to get to the airport I shoved into yet another train. My love for trains had not been diminished, but was wearing thin..
It was only when I got to the security line when I felt the pressure for time. Half an hour and three times through the medal detector later, I was informed that I was at the wrong gate!! (It was not mentioned before but I was told which gate to go to by a horrific liar!)
In order to get to my gate I must traverse by bus to the correct part of the airport. Like most bus drivers I have come in contact with, this man was not pressed for time. He had no problem taking his time and driving possibly slower than a broken car without a wheel.
I could feel myself start to lose it.
I was breaking down just a bit as I watched the minutes tick by. It was 3:14. One minute before the doors closed. He pulled up and threaten a broken door by waiting to let me out. I jumped out and booked it to my gate. I was so close!! I ran the handicap ramp with shocking grace, only running into the wall once. And then, I saw it! It was beautiful, but there was no time to gaze in wonderment. I ran, full force toward gate B41. I showed my ticket to the lady at the gate fully believing I had made it.
“The doors just closed, mam. We have given away your seat.”
I missed it. I had failed.
I would never get home and I would be stuck in Jersey for the rest of my life.
I collapsed on the ground tears flowing full force.
There are moments in your life that are beautiful, and there are moments when you are hysterically crying in an airport in Newerk.
This was that day.
After, I kid you not, a full 4 minutes of crying on the floor, I was told that it’s possible to get on the next flight. Still sobbing, I tried to regain any pride I had left and got into a unmoving line for option b. I was unable to control my emotions. It was as if I hadn’t cried in years and this was the moment that I broke.
A young (attractive) man came up to me. He must have been concerned about my mental health because he calmly said “you should probably breath so you don’t pass out”.
It was then I realized I was hyperventilating. Luckily, like most extroverts, talking to someone calmed me. It was possibly to process rational thought again. Of course I wouldn’t be trapped in New Jersey. There would be tons of flights and it was absolutely possible to get on one of them. He said he was a medic and that’s when I knew (though anyone could have guess before) that I was being dramatic.
So, after a few more sobs and a conversation with the ticket booth ladies, I was put on standby for the next flight 3 hours from then.
Most of the time I love airports. They are a place where everyone can be from different worlds but its equal playing ground. Everyone is traveling. Everyone is the same.
Layovers can be fun, but unexpected layovers in a clingy city that wants you to stay there forever, those are best handled with an exorbitant amount of French fries.
So, moral of the story is, never take the F train, and if all else fails, Irish Nachos. (Google Irish Nachos and enjoy your life being changed)