Growing up I had always lived in a small town. I still remember when we broke the 25,000 resident barrier, which meant that my little town had home rule (link to the Illinois constitution) and thus the town had more power and didn’t need to allow the state government to make as many decisions for it. Which may or may not be a good thing for the residents, but still.
When I decided to do my M.L.I.S. (Masters in Library and Information Science) at Rutgers University, I had to move to New Jersey in Spring of 2008. I actually visited a friend in Maryland for the Christmas holiday and secured my housing while on that trip. As luck would have it, Marco and Roger were vacationing in New York City at that time, so I moved to New Brunswick on a Sunday night and took the train into the city that Monday morning to visit them.
First time on a train alone. Eeep.
Thankfully someone helped me out with the ticket machine. I just hope I didn’t make her miss her train! I was only mildly confused when the ticket-person asked for my ticket… and then asked for it again later on. A bit frightened, I showed him my receipt and said he already took it. He left me alone after that.
I knew that Penn station was the very last stop, though I’ll admit to being a bit concerned when I heard Newark Penn Station, which sounds way too close to New York Penn Station for my liking. But I stayed on the train until the very last stop, and then followed everyone as they went upstairs.
And then promptly felt very, very lost. The place was HUGE! And Marco was nowhere to be found. I waited around for about 20 minutes, and then he finally gave me a call. Turns out he was waiting in another part of the station, as there are multiple places NJTransit trains can end up. But since I had no idea where I was and my directions weren’t helpful (how was I to know there was more than one Hudson News in the place? Turns out there was like 20!) we were sort of at an impasse.
Eventually I did the smart thing and I went up to a police officer and explained the situation. Marco knew where he was, but I had no clue where I was. I handed over my phone to the police officer and he spoke with Marco for a minute, telling Marco where he should go. After he handed me back the phone, he pointed me in a certain direction and said “go that way”. After thanking him, I did.
And after about 20 seconds of walking I saw Marco coming around the corner. Rejoice!
(Actually, the first thing I noticed was his trademark black and white checkered button shirt which I had fallen in love with, but that is a blog post for another time.)
After much hugging and relief to see a familiar face, we went to his hotel (the New Yorker) and talked for like 10 minutes in the lobby before moving upstairs. This was because I had never met Roger before, and the poor guy hadn’t even known I existed until a month prior when Marco broke the news that an American girl would be spending a few days with them in NYC. But it all worked out.
Best of all, the delay meant that when we went to pick up McDonald’s for breakfast, we were late enough that the menu switched over from breakfast to lunch while we were standing there wondering what to get. Score! (For me, anyway. They happen to like breakfast food.)
And that was how I spent my first two hours in NYC. Crazy times.