Lessons from the Road Part 1: New York
As most of you already know, my fiancé and I recently embarked on a cross-country road trip from New York City to the Seattle area. We packed up the car with everything that we hadn’t already sold, given away or shipped, and crossed 16 states in 14 days. If you ever want to see if the hundreds of dollars you invested in couple’s therapy has paid off, can I recommend a 16-state, 14 day tour that includes family, friends, strangers, 80 mile per hour speed limits and unpaved mountain roads?
I’m happy to say that after being trapped in a car and at various AirBnB’s for two weeks and thousands of miles, we somehow still enjoy each other’s company.
In the weeks to come, I will present a state-by-state rundown of thoughts, frustrations and inspirations from our recent life on the road.
Part 1- New York (a.k.a. Control Issues)
For those of you who are familiar with New York City, you’ll know that if you live in Washington Heights and fall in love with someone in Astoria, you’re essentially committing to a long-distance relationship. Getting from my apartment to K's apartment took either two trains or a train and a bus.
I usually went the train/bus route because in recent years, the agoraphobia I developed living in New York reached peak crazy-lady-muttering-to-herself-and-leaning-casually-against-a-post-to-assure-herself-no-one-is-behind-her levels, and a trip through the god awful Times Square Station was usually a two-Klonopin commitment.
For the move, though, K was lucky enough to recently purchase his Dad’s old Honda CRV, making the road trip possible, and lowering the 7.5 mile trip time between our places from 75 minutes to a cool 15 to 20 minutes.
Did you know that I have control issues?
(Rolled eyes and grunts of assent from those who know me may be submitted through the “contact me” form on my homepage.)
My control issues may be a beneficial evolutionary trait for surviving an MFA in Directing, but a pleasant passenger-seat companion they do not necessarily make. And as early as a week before the move, those control issues were put to the test.
Driving in New York City feels like being a kitten tossed into a tank full of starving, drunk frat-piranhas during Greek-week.
The weekend before the move, we packed up a few boxes of books to ship, and as
K tried to enter the highway in Queens, a woman put her car in reverse, and commenced a forty-point turn from a crowded highway on-ramp into the middle of an intersection filled with (stuck) on-coming traffic.
In Riverdale, where we planned to ship the packages* from, the suggested speed for our exit was 15 miles per hour (down from the 60-ish that we were doing on the West Side Highway) as the ramp itself twisted into a hairpin, pretzel like turn.
Although K is as safe and cautious as any driver I’ve ever ridden with, I quickly learned some things that would become road-trip themes in the weeks to come:
1. The invisible, passenger-side break my mom was so fond of when I was learning to drive as a teenager still is still completely ineffective at stopping or slowing a car.
2. When I’m scared, my gut reaction is anger.
3. When confronted with anger, K’s (understandable) gut reaction is defensiveness.
4. Strangely, closing my eyes at strategic moments while riding shotgun makes the death-grip need for control vanish, if only for a few seconds.
And, perhaps, most importantly,
5. K does not want us to die, I do not want to yell, and at the end of the ride, we can hug each other, get a Slurpee (half Coke, half Cherry, please) and somehow, still like each other.
That last one went a long way, and would play a large part in getting us through the weeks to come in one piece, relationship-wise and sanity-wise.
*We shipped the packages from the Riverdale Post Office, and not one in Manhattan or Queens, because it had one of the highest Yelp scores in the area. It is, indeed, a delightful post office as post offices go, with short lines, friendly and helpful employees, and plenty of parking outside. My control issues may make me a shitty passenger, but they make me an awesome planner. So there.