This past Saturday at about 5:30pm, I got on the subway at Union Square with the intention of stopping by my apartment to do some work before heading back downtown to Murray Hill for an 8pm dinner date.
On a normal day, each commute would have taken no more than 45 minutes, leaving me with an hour to spend at home. On this particular day, train delays and reroutings conspired to keep me underground for two hours and transport me, very much without my knowledge or consent, all the way to the Bronx – but never to my actual home. At some point during my subterranean wanderings I realized I had run out of time even to run upstairs to change into a warmer coat and come back down again, so I abandoned the plan and switched to the southbound platform.
20+ miles, four subway lines, and zero actual accomplishments later (except, perhaps, exploring new frontiers of bladder control), I got off the train at Penn Station and spent ten minutes lost in a labyrinth of temporary drywall passageways. When I finally found the stairs to get above-ground, I stomped up each step like a petulant four year-old while seething, “Get me out of this city!” (Plus curses.) Walking to my friend’s house, I lowed at a flock of slow-moving women near Macy’s, “Pleaaaaassse moooooove!” and at the next crosswalk I snapped at a daydreaming pedestrian, “Watch it!” and stretched out my arms to indicate that I would shove him out of the way if he didn’t move on his own. (He did.)
I was in rare form, but instead of quickly calming down and recoiling from my behavior in horror and embarrassment, I just thought, yep, I’m way past due to take a break from New York City.
Then I arrived at my French friend’s house, where a raclette spread and the company of delightful people was waiting, and all became right with the world again. (Until it was time to take the subway back home.)
[Drawing: Will Laren]