An Otherwise Exceptional Existence

Filed under funner times on the bus, living in new york sucks so hard, why i'm better than everyone else

I’m flying out of JFK for Christmas, which is a convenient $2.25 subway ride away from my apartment, so I needed to transport a duffel bag of clothes (read: beloved underwear) from Kamran’s apartment to mine this morning. In the normal world, this would involve tossing it in the back of my car along amidst the Big Mac wrappers and used Kleenex and forgetting about it until I got there. But in my world, this involves:

1) carrying it to the bus, which is only an avenue block away but is very slow and could force me to stand holding the bag for 45 minutes, because I’m not putting my gorgeous white duffel with the light brown suede bottom on the bus floor, or

2) carrying it to the subway, which is three avenue blocks away and will involve navigating heavy foot traffic but will get me there much faster.

I could also take a cab, but it’s $30 from Kamran’s apartment to mine and sort of defeats the whole purpose of being able to fly out of the airport that’s a convenient $2.25 subway ride away from my apartment.

So I stressed about this all weekend. I thought about bringing the bag to my place tonight after work to avoid the crowds. I thought about leaving home at 7 a.m. to miss rush hour. I thought about how I just need to suck it up and become one of those people who pulls a collapsible grocery cart behind her wherever she goes. But instead, I left at the normal hour and hoped some kindly man would feel unnecessarily guilty about depriving a woman of a seat.

And of course the best happened. A couple of buses passed as I was walking toward the stop, which pretty much guarantees a ten-minute wait until the next one, but a third one miraculously pulled up mere moments after I arrived. It hadn’t been long enough for a new crowd to gather, so the only other passenger waiting to board was a woman I gave bus fare to out of the goodness of my heart when her card was expired last week, and she gave a friendly hello. The bus was almost entirely empty, so I took a seat at the front and gave my bag a seat of its own. Barely anyone got on at the next stop and the next stop and so on for my entire ride to work, so I never had to worry about piling my duffel and my purse and my lunch bag all on my lap. It couldn’t have been a better situation.

When we’d passed all of the stops where a lot of people usually board and rush to steal the empty seats from each other in ways that I think should embarrass them, I looked over lovingly at my duffel, so comfortably nestled next to me, and thought, “Everything always works out in my favor! Boy, the bus sure is great.”

And then I reflected on my own self lovingly and how I manage to have such a sunny outlook. Of course I’ve had many a trip on the bus where I got shuffled to the center where there are no seats and was forced to hold a heavy bag the entire way, but that’s not what leaves an impact on me. I tend to think of the great things in my life as the norm and the worst things as momentary riffles in an otherwise exceptional existence. I don’t think about the time I requested a window seat at Per Se and they didn’t oblige; I think about how comfortable the banquette they did give us was. I can’t recall a single gift I asked for as a kid and didn’t receive–although I’m sure there were hundreds over my eighteen years of childhood greed–but I can remember how special the presents I did get were. I really don’t even dwell on my dead mom but instead think of how great it is that her absence made me closer to my dad.




  1. Well, you’re MY hero, and we both know that’s all that matters.

    If I had tried to lug a duffel bag onto the bus, you know damn good and well this story would’ve ended with someone, probably me, ending up in the hospital. I don’t have a very good track record lately.

  2. Cristy says:

    Awesome! As usual. :) Finding the positive can be so refreshing. I’ve been out of practice lately. I need to work on that.

  3. Elliepie says:

    How dare you. At a time like this. etc.

  4. 1. This is so cheerful and such!
    2. I need a nap.
    (Items are not necessarily related… although excess cheer does tend to make me drowsy.)

  5. bluzdude says:

    We need to get you an underwear backpack for Christmas.

  6. Erin says:

    That IS exceptional! I think it’s human nature to just focus on the negative, which is something I’ve done for most of my life. I am so not the greatest american hero.

  7. Jessica R. says:

    I have to say, I was super impressed by your light packing to Pittsburgh!

    Looking on the bright side is a great quality to have, and if you can do it in the midst of angry New Yorkers, then I can certainly try to while driving behind people who probably should not be.

  8. Megan says:

    This line – “I really don’t even dwell on my dead mom but instead think of how great it is that her absence made me closer to my dad” – made me tear up.

    And ummm, don’t judge me, but when I lived in SF I had a collapsible cart… it rocked. And I definitely remember stressing about getting to the airport with all my luggage – bus to train to train – it’s definitely a PIA. But worth it!