I start to panic as I leave Columbia, MD - lack of sleep, lack of proper nutrition, it's added up and has turned into adrenalin racing through my body - with no outlet.
I call a friend in Los Angeles - who was instrumental in aiding my exit out of LA.
He talks me through Baltimore, Delaware, we skim Pennsylvania together and into NJ, where btw, I see my first hybrid car since Mississippi - but it wasn't a Prius, it was a Honda Zip Car.
I stop probably 5 times with my friend staying on the phone with me -I know I should try and eat something, knowing if I do, I will feel better.
I try to rationalize my feelings; I can turn around.
I don't need to do this.
If I really start to freak out, I can park the car and fly back - I'll figure it out.
I have options.
Remember that, remember that.
I get out of the car in New Jersey. I walk my dog and myself. I get a sandwich at Starbucks. I breathe.
I have options.
I can always turn around.
I have my apartment in Los Angeles.
Granted there's someone in there, but I could stay at a friends.
But I've made it this far. You have to at least go in.
I have options. I don't have to do this.
This is crazy. I haven't stepped foot in NYC for over 10 years. Everyone says oh, you won't recognize it. It's changed so much. It's so expensive. It's so hard. Why? Why are you doing this?
Self doubt is creeping in.
My Father's concerned questions.
I call another friend - a Native New Yorker who has been my cheerleader since the first whisper of this idea. She tells me the directions I got from AAA are confusing, and gives me idiot proof directions.
I continue on.
Traffic is somewhat dense.
And I see it.
I see the sign:
This would be the O.M.G moment.
There's no turning back.
Anyway, I wouldn't even know how or where to exit at this point.
Then I see it -
think I do:
Wait. Maybe not. I'm so confused. Maybe that's Jersey City.
I continue on, and see confirmation:
Huh? The city lost weight. It looks anemic.
I guess after seeing photos and footage I thought I wouldn't be surprised by the void in the city.
I feel sad for NY.
MY childhood NY is no longer.
But I go on:
OMG. There are A LOT of cars.
All I'm thinking is: What lane do I get in? What is this EZ pass lane?
Don't screw up, do not get in the wrong lane, pay attention.
You do not want angry New Yorker's yelling at you.
Then I see my first taxi! And that's why I love NY. You cannot dwell on any one thing for longer than 10 seconds. It demands your attention at all times in 50 different directions
I think, my god, how much is that ride to go from Jersey to the city?
Must be a fortune.
I look to my right and I see my first graffiti'd car!
I am DEFINITELY NY adjacent.
Now, THAT is something you do NOT see in LA.
In LA, cars are sacred.
If anyone dared to spray paint your car,
if you weren't already arrested and thrown in jail
(and oh, yes the LAPD will do just that)
you would be killed.
It's just not done.
I paid the toll to the toll taker. He said to me in his thick NY accent:
"Have a nice day, sweetheart!"
He called me Sweetheart!
I started laughing. I haven't been called that in YEARS.
Have I said how I loathe tunnels?
Oh, I do.
I didn't drive all this way to freak out in the goddamn Holland Tunnel.
This is fine.
As we go further in, and down, all those tunnel phobia thoughts creep back in:
What if there's an accident?
We'll be stuck in here for hours.
I mean how does an ambulance get in here?
I bet it would be pandemonium.
What if there's a leak?
OMG what an awful way to go.
I wonder if I get cell phone reception?
I mean, you can understand the thought process, right?
I'm in the City.
And I am in awe.