New York Minute

Washington to New York City and back in a day? So doable. The shrill of the morning’s 4:30 alarm set forth the whirlwind to come. Two states, two girls, 18 hours of one day: Zoe and I were set to go. 

Slight complication with obtaining a taxi the morning of: 
A) Whilst we had called for a 5:15 am cab and had received confirmation of its arrival, the cab itself was MIA. Our subsequent call back to the company faced a call on hold. Because obviously the world ties up cabs at 5:30 am.

B) A near collision with an oncoming car as our driver made a left turn, mere seconds before the oncoming car would have crashed into the side of our cab. SCENE- Me: rubbing my temples, echoes of "Oh my goodness" on repeat. Zoe: calm—the cab would have hit her first. Cab driver: chuckling. Cup 'o joe works for some; near death experience work for others. By all means, whatever gives you the adrenaline rush for the day.

C) A glimpse of cops busting prostitutes along the side of K street.

So following the slight complication, Zoe and I made it to the Megabus parking lot in time to catch our 6:15 am bus. We arrived in New York City by 10:45 am.

NYC by foot.
Zoe and I spent the day perusing by foot—Chelsea Market, Greenwhich Village, SoHo and Chinatown. We wandered to the pier where it began bucketing; our umbrellas did us no good leaving our clothes and shoes soaked. We boarded a ferry to Staten Island, enjoying 30- minutes of sitting before debarking and boarding a ferry headed back to the city. The day concluded with a dinner at a Thai restaurant on 7th Ave.

The day itself had been remarkable—the amount Zoe and I saw, the places we walked, the landmarks we toured. We had no schedule (albeit our constrains of our bus tickets) and we had no plan. It was an open-ended day that took its pace as the time rolled by.

A Standby Experience.
Our bus was scheduled to leave at 9 pm, however we chose to arrive at 7 in hopes of switching our tickets for an earlier bus time. We shuffled into the standby line. And that's where we waited for an hour and a half.

In was there, in the Megabus standby line, that Zoe and I met a group of unique individuals—fascinating in their own right, their own personalities, their own frustrations as they too waited in a line that never moved.

There was the 24- year- old, Jewish woman with a missed 5:30 pm ticket. Her boss had called an impromptu meeting at 5 pm, causing her to miss her bus headed to DC for a weekend with her long- distance boyfriend. (Her advice on the DC love life: “There’s hope ladies. Hope and a little tequila.”) There was Dani, a woman well into her 30s pursuing a PHD at American who had gone to undergrad in Boston, was from Seattle and had just completed the peace corps. And Elijah, a gay, socialist junior in college frustrated as his 5:30 pm Megabus had failed to show up.

The time was nearing 8.30 pm; Our bus was scheduled for 9. The standby line had gotten us nowhere, and so Zoe, Dani and I proceeded along, stationing ourselves in the line for our actual bus. Subdued shades of salmon pink and purple tinged the night sky; darkness never blankets the city that never sleeps.

Two African American men stood behind Zoe, Dani and I. They worked for Jewish firms, provoking an onset of giggles from the two of us as they referenced the love their Jewish bosses had for making money. Dani, noticing our giggles, asked if we were Jewish. “I could totally tell!” she said. “Happy ‘sukkut’!”

Our IT friends offered us weed cookies before boarding the bus. I politely declined.
Alcohol? Zoe pointed out I was underage.

9:30 pm: Finally we boarded the bus.

GBF/ socialist Elijah sat in the row next to Zoe and I. Quite the talker, he chatted about, eventually the hitting the topic of tattoos. His belief: be satisfied with yourself, be yourself and love yourself. A tattoo should speak to a meaning, an expression of the self. A tattoo, he explained, represents a part of who you are, not who you were at a point in your life. Elijah referenced the oddity of getting a tattoo, knowing 50 years down the tattoo would still be there, the green etchings visible on the pure skin. It's a way of carrying your passion with you, a piece of you inked into your skin until you’re gone.

Elijah spoke of his friend, a Jewish girl covered in tattoos who keeps kosher, is studying to become a rabbi and works for a Holocaust Awareness Program. She believes that in the Jewish faith, getting tattoos is equivalent to Jews not keeping kosher. Both aren't ideal, yet keeping kashrut supersedes all Jewish law. I assume the girl is as liberal and reformed as one gets, yet I admire her determination in the face of a Jewish community that judges unlike any other.

Elijah voiced his strong socialist ideas- ideas of the exploitation of the poor at the hands of the rich, ideas he was taking with on his march for the DC Occupy Wall Street.

The two guys behind us intruded into the conversation, allowing me a willing exit to a conversation I had little to contribute. The men—pompous individuals who had previous been discussing their search for “huge sluts” in Friendship Heights (Friendship Heights, mind you, is an upmarket shopping district a metro stop from school. Unsure as to where the “huge sluts” fit into the Friendship Heights environment.). The guys argued the side of capitalists, also making points I agreed with, yet ignorant of the realities of the struggles of the poor. Because no, the poor are not all given the opportunity to start their own businesses, let alone make it through the school system or afford a college education. I was proud of Elijah for being the sole socialist, a college student who knew his information well enough to counter argue each of the mens’ points. Elijah possessed a strong will to make a difference, to stand for his beliefs-- however revolutionary, however radical, however different.

A smell waved over- the men, our former IT friends- were eating weed cookies in the back of the bus. The two men behind us were clinking bottles. Frat party had officially met Megabus. Thank goodness there were only 40 minutes left on the bus ride back to DC.
I'm halfway through Fall semester. I’ve submitted my abroad application and now await a hopeful acceptance.

I've dropped the majority of my babysitting jobs this semester, in lieu of a paid internship in which I write for an online newsletter covering businesses in the local Georgetown area.

I love my classes; I walk out of Feature Article Writing classes beaming. My Advanced Reporting class leaves me frustrated, call after call ignored by congressmen who I need for a quote. My classes have provided me with the opportunity to interview Congressman Allen West, cover a Senate congressional hearing and visit local public schools for my piece on 9/11. And my photography class- a class that has left me with a greater sense of appreciation for the art of photography.

I haven't spent this semester playing tourist; Rather, I'm using my semester to enjoy life on campus while soaking in the culture of the city. I notice the difficulty I find in observing unique characteristics within the district. It’s a challenge noticing the differences within the familiar- a challenge I’ve given thought to, although, to be quite frank, I haven’t truly made the effort to overcome. Why not? Apart from the lack of time, I’m enjoying being a college student again. Rather than looking through the lens, I’m taking the picture.

My day trip to New York City is just a day’s taste of a semester’s worth of adventure for my upcoming time abroad.

And the blue shoes? They’re snug in a compartment in the shoe rack draped over the closet door, resting for a semester’s worth of experiences that lie ahead.

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