I have an adventurous daughter that decided almost five years ago to move to New York City, specifically Brookly, specifically Bushwick.
For those of you who know the NYC/Brooklyn Real Estate, you know this means the furtherest point from downtown Manhatten and a place she can afford. I have to confess- I am a proud mother. She has spunk! The proof? She navigates the New York Subway like a pro.
She is an artist who supplements her income as a Nanny. She can tell you what size stroller fits through the turnstile and which ones you take the the service door. She describes how you hold the child and manage the whole hectic process of moving through the subway with a small one.
Her perspective on becoming a subway professional is about six months. After riding them only a few days, I agree.
It’s a beautiful, breezy Friday morning, and I am about to experience my first subway ride from Brooklyn to Manhatten. After filling my Metro card (a bright, yellow card that is becomes my rite of passage for the next few days), we head for the platform. I also am schlepping my little red suitcase along behind me. A very gracious new friend has an apartment in the Theatre District of Manhatten. He is allowing me to stay there. I could pinch his cheeks!
Once my daughter fills the metro card, she is lightening on foot. I consider myself a fast walker, but am working hard to keep up with her addidas feet! She explains to me that the points between A and B and C are only minutes apart. Like a well-executed domino toppling act, if you don’t make point A (for us Jefferson Station), you won’t make the “L” which takes you to 14th Street Station and then connects to the heart of where I am staying, 50th and 8th Street Station.
So why her nimble feet are flying down the quilt stamped,steel covered concrete stairs, i’m just trying to keep up in my new “comfortable” shoes. This is a good place to stop and talk about footwear for getting around The Big Apple. You wear the grungy, broken in tennis shoes or flats while in route. You switch to the fancy shoes when you arrive at your destination. I am informed by said daughter that you don’t wear sandals and open-toed shoes on the subway because your feet get really dirty (I looked at my feet at the end of the day and though they were tired, they were not black with New York soot!)
The subway is pretty much the experience you stereotypically think it is: dirty floors, dirty windows scratched with words across the glass, and people who don’t carry on conversations while traveling. You also have your occasional “activist” that spouts messages of lunacy and ridiculousness. But overall, it is a pretty safe place to travel. Strollers, children, the working class on their way to their city jobs, and visitors like me.
The styles of clothing and perhaps station in life (?) change the closer you get to the city. Grunge and Gothic is seen less with more well-dressed riders in their smart designer dresses and shoes. Then you get to another section of town and the sorts of styles and stations go topsy-turvy with all kinds of people and dress.
It’s also a place where you hear all sorts of accents. Languages galore can be heard in our subway ride and on the streets. I’m learning Italian right now, so as I sit or walk near someone speaking a foreign language, I strain to hear if it is Italian. Silly, but hey! It’s fun. NYC feels at times like another country.
After a full day of visiting museums and seeing plays, my daughter chooses to catch the train back to Bushwick. I am soaking in the deep tub in the Manhatten High-Rise, and my proud daughter is catching the “L” back to her place.
Our last day and evening has been magical- two plays, including the famous Shakeaspeare in Central Park production concludes my siteseeing. She leaves well past midnight to catch the train home, even though I have asked her again and again to stay over.
She writes instructions for me for the next day. I am meeting her for brunch and then riding to the airport for my trip home. I am taking the train by myself with my little red suitcase. This is a tiny test of to see how well I can step out on my own.
I take one last look around the apartment, checking to see I have packed everything and the apartment is left in good order. I take in the view of Central Park from this place in high in the sky and whisper a thank-you.
With directions in hand, I first fill my metro card, put my suitcase through the turnstile before swiping my card and go through it myself.
Far from being a pro, I feel pretty comfortable and confident while navigating my final ride on the “L” to Brooklyn. The weekend has been quite a ride. I can hardly wait to try this again in the near future. And yes, I will be wearing my unfashionable shoes for the train!