tales of a girl in the city

septembre 26, 2004

Going The Distance

If you live in Washington DC, and you're trying to come to New York every weekend, you've got to have your Death-Star strength forcefields up, your Patience Hat on, at least five hours of good reading material in tow, and about a hundred extra dollars in your pocket in case you miss the Chinatown Bus and need to take the $74 train. Which will happen often.

And if you do manage to catch the bus, it will be hot. It will be full. You will be sitting across the aisle from a girl who is fully outfitted in UW Madison gear. At first you will be tempted to say to her, "Hey, did you go to Madison? My girlfriend is from Wisconsin," so that you can start up a conversation and make the endless five and half hour trip pass more quickly. But then you will hear this girl begin talking to someone else near her, and you will discover that her voice makes Fran Drescher's nasal, whiny Queens-speak sound like a sweet siren song. And you will writhe in pain for the next five hours as this girl and her neighbor talk about their sister's weddings, their recent college graduations, and their other many commonalities: "Oh my GOD. You like blue? I like blue!"

Then you will hit two hours worth of traffic and want to die.

If, on the other hand, you have missed the bus--or grown tired of waiting for it because the one that left at 5:30 was completely full, and there won't be another till 7:00--you decide you'll fork out the $74 and take the train.

And at first you're happy, because the seats have that little adjustable footrest contraption, the air conditioning is full-blast, and you've scored a seat in the car near the food counter. But then, just past Philadelphia, the train will stop because of a track fire/broken electric line/train congestion/closures due to the Republican National Convention/other mysterious reasons that Amtrak doesn't feel inclined to share.* And suddenly your 3 hour, 20 minute train ride becomes a 5 hour, 30 minute train ride, which is great, because now you have ample time to realize that, over the past four weekends, you've given Amtrak almost $600 dollars of your hard earned money.

Which, apparently, still isn't enough to ensure that all the footrest contraptions work.

Because yours just broke.

And when you stand up to move to a new seat, you see that someone coming back from the food counter somehow got nacho cheese on your luggage.

Such is the reality of a long distance relationship.

And I knew it was getting to him.

There was a Sunday in August, a Sunday of lines and heat, and stupid rules about stupid Chinatown Bus confirmation printouts. It was exhausting, awful, and--in the end--expensive.

The planning.

The hurry.

The luggage to lug.

Always behind on things at home: bills were not getting paid, laundry was not getting done.

I see this now--of course, of course.

But he insisted that everything was fine. Yes, we had to budget better. Yes, taking the good 'ole C-town Bus at least one way was a necessity. But he promised that if something was wrong we would talk about it. And nothing was wrong. Things were good. End of story.

But that's not what he wrote in his journal.**


** Sue me.