Everyone who’s ever moved to NYC loves to tell newcomers that the first few months are the hardest. It gets easier, better after that. Just push through those initial few months. I guess a cliche is a cliche for a reason; this was exactly the case for me. The first couple of months were brutal- full of transition, a lack of balance, and absolutely no handle on how to run my own life. I can pinpoint the night when this all started to change..
After a stellar night out with a good friend from college, I boarded the train home with a smile on my face, knitting in hand (yes, I knit on the subway.) Following me onto the train were two 18-22 year old boys, clearly hopped up on something. They sat across from me on the almost empty train, and we proceeded to do the one thing all New Yorkers are exceptionally good at: we completely ignored each other.
I sat in blissful exuberance, reliving my fabulous evening, and feeling my life fall into place. The sky was bluer (or would have been, if it wasn’t near to midnight), the birds were singing (or would have been, if it hadn’t been November), the conductor was skipping all stops in an effort to get me home in fifteen minutes flat (Ok…that’s a complete lie).
The boys across the aisle sat in blissful waves of semi-consciousness, munching their way through several bag of potato chips. I paid them no heed, and they were far too immersed in their snack to notice me.
About four stops from my own, I leaned down and put my knitting in my backpack. I leaned back in the seat, eyes closed, and thought to myself, “Wow. Things are really starting to look up. I think I’m finally getting the hang of this whole city-living thing. Maybe I really do like living here.”
As these pleasant and comforting thoughts settled into my consciousness, I felt a splash hit me. A continuous splash, spraying my clothing, shoes, and backpack. As I looked up, expecting to see the drugged-out boys messing around with a water bottle, another splash greeted me, hitting my hair and face. Through the flecks on my glasses, I saw one of the boys, calmly patting his friend on the back, as he proceeded to be violently sick. The boy’s hand was clamped over his own mouth, as though he thought this would cause his body to stop retching-if there’s nowhere for it to go, it’ll just not come at all. On the contrary, it came, and flew in every direction around his hand. Hence the spraying.
Now, I’m not one to swear in public. So,I was mildly surprised when I shouted, “Are you *$&^%^(&# kidding me?!” without so much as a moment of hesitation. This stirred something in the comforting friend, who proceeded to splutter, “I’m so sorry.” at me. He half-lifted his friend off the seat and onto the platform we had just arrived at. I sat, stunned, in a pool of vomit, watching as the young man continued to get sick all over the ground, and then get back into the subway car and continue throwing up.
When the train finally and mercifully pulled into my stop, I stood up stiffly, and shuffled off the subway with as much dignity as I could muster (so, not much. or none). I trudged home as quickly as possible, not meeting people’s gazes, and cursing that boy to the depths of hell, where a whole school of vomit-centered tortures would be waiting for him.
As I pulled open my apartment door, my roommate called cheerily to me in greeting, “Hey! How was your day?”
“I just got thrown up on.” I answered back in monotone, as I walked into the bathroom, sneakers, jacket and backpack still on, turned on the shower and proceeded to scrub every inch of me with dish soap and a sponge.
With the water pouring down my back, I thought to myself, “Please don’t take this as a sign, K. The timing of this means nothing. Nothing at all. It’s just a horrible, awful, freaking knee-slapper of a coincidence.”
Even as I sit here: happy, completely confident in my decision to move to NYC, and finally feeling like I have a home here, I gotta say…it’s hard to believe that when you’re pulling chunks of half-digested potato chip from your hair.