I’d like to think I did as my blog title suggests and just dove in to my new life, but I need to be honest. Somedays feel like a plunge, but it has truthfully been one step at a time, often when I am not sure where exactly I will place my foot.
I have stood on the banks of a rushing stream, hoping for a bridge but realizing the rocks scattered in the water are the only way across. I have stepped on a rock only to find it was not firmly planted and tipped with my weight. I have taken a step onto a slippery surface and had to take a quick next step without being able to fully assess the rocks before me. I have had to trust there is a next best step beyond me each step of the way.
I do not know the way, but I can see the bank on the other side. I just trust.
What I do know is that I have been provided for in little ways and in larger ways the entire time.
This blog will attempt to chronicle some of those ways.
I flew into LaGuardia the day before Thanksgiving. It is one of the busiest travel days of the year, but sometimes, you have no choice. LGA is a mess; there is construction everywhere compounded by usual hubbub of honking cars, buses, and police whistling.
Normally, I jump onto a NYCAirporterhttps://www.nycairporter.com bus, but I had not checked the website nor purchased my ticket in advance, so I was counting on finding someone in a green coat (their signature uniform) and buying my ticket from them as they pointed me in the direction of the next bus into Grand Central terminal.
Surprise. Surprise. No NYCAirporter bus. No people in green coats. No luck for this Cat.
Not a simple task. Even for a tourist fluent in English.
I found the kiosk for MTA tickets and read a sign telling me to take one bus to get to a subway stop – in Queens. I was confused. Greatly.
So I asked for help.
“Any idea how to get into Grand Central from here?”
I looked first at the young woman on my right, then to the man standing off to my left.
No answer. Not surprising in New York. I went outside and tried to determine which bus would go into GCT. None were marked for such. People crowded around every bus stop. Cars pressed against the curb.
I went back to scanning the signs.
“Are you in need of some help?” The man from the kiosk approached and was looking me in the eyes. He had an accent, and dark, concerned eyes.
“Yes, I usually take the NYCAirporter and it doesn’t seem to be operating. Do you have any idea how to get to GCT from here?”
“You should take the bus to Queens and then pick up the subway. I am taking that bus if you want to follow me.”
Hell, yeah. Can you say desperate?
We chatted and when the bus appeared we pushed onto it. I stayed right at his side and felt lucky to get a seat. Plenty of people were denied and even more pressed against us from the aisle. He told me he and his wife were from Bangladesh and he had worked at LGA for a few years.
Then, he fell asleep.
That is when a faint bit of panic tapped me on the shoulder.
What if this guy was a criminal taking me to Who-Knows-Where? What if he doesn’t wake up in time to make my stop? With his accent, I wasn’t certain I understood which stop was ours. What was I doing following a strange man into Queens?
I had no choice now. He breathed heavily, slumped in the seat next to me. I stared at the head in front of me and felt the backpack of the guy next to me pressing into my thigh.
Who would even know I was here? I never mentioned a side trip to Queens when I told my son my travel plans. It wasn’t part of my plan. Was it too late to text him? What would I say? “I’m going to Queens and then GCT. See you whenever.”
My guide woke up within seconds of our stop. He sprang to his feet and I did the same.
He steered me by the elbow and pointed up a large column of stairs. It was clearly marked for the NYC subway and people were pushing past all around.
“Thank you,” seemed pretty paltry.
“You are welcome.”
Then, we hugged.
God, I still love New York.