I started the day early, a little nervous to navigate the city for the first time totally on my own. I've been in Manhattan plenty of times, but always with someone else leading the way.
I've been on lots of subways in my life, but New York's is slightly beyond my grasp. The subway system map here just looks like a bowl of spilled spaghetti noodles to me and always has.
I can never make any sense of it.
So Kristin says to walk to the nearest station and take the F train to West 4th, and that's about the extent of the direction I can follow/remember in using this subway successfully. Add any transfers or other train letters to that and my eyes glaze over in fear and I start looking for the nearest cab.
I get to the Goodwill store in Greenwich Village around 9. They aren't open yet, but this gives me a chance to look around. This is a boutique, so it's the best of the donated goodies!
During this project there have been two old standbys of things you could find in any given thrift store about 99% of the time: A souvenir from Las Vegas of some sort-- and an "I <3 NY" t-shirt.
I'm curious if that will hold true-- IN NY.
But I do see about a dozen t-shirts with maps of the subway system on them. Perhaps that's just what I need to get around this city-- something I wear that I can look down to for reference!
While I'm browsing I bump into Will, who is here browsing the men's section with his friend Lee, looking for new duds. They're both actors here in the city, and Will has just returned to NYC from a tour with Fiddler on the Roof.
Lee spots a red jacket and searches for a mirror, then Will takes a turn trying it on, too. Then they both spot a pair pointy men's dress shoes, as well as a pair of shiny silver high-top sneakers.
"These are EVERYTHING!" he exclaims.
They take turns trying them on. As they're lacing them up, Lee also spots a black velvet vest hanging at the end of a rack.
"This is EVERYTHING!" he says again. It fits him perfectly and he walks over to admire it in the nearby mirror. He says it'll be perfect for auditions.
Lee sums up why he likes shopping at thrift stores. "The reason people are afraid to wear it is because it's 'out there'," he says.
"But for me it's perfect! You can't find this stuff at Macy's."
I wander off to the knick-knacks, which seem pretty picked over. I do spot a cool wall decoration- three large wooden boxes made to look like CTL+ALT+DEL buttons on a computer. Sort of regret not getting those now.
But oddly, there is a brand new, still packaged set of Memorex cassette tapes (!), a big bag of dog food and a bottle of Karo syrup.
I check out a cool necklace inside the display case that's just too cute not to come home with me, so I check out and get on my way-- down to the WTC area to have lunch with Kristin before heading out.
When Kristin attempts to give me subway directions as to how to get back to Park Slope, my eyes glaze over and I actually DO flag down a cab. Thank goodness they take debit cards now.
Besides, I enjoy seeing the city from above. And I got to finally see the Brooklyn Bridge.
I gather up my stuff at Kristin's and hit the road bound for Princeton, hoping to get in one more store in New Jersey before turning in at my mom-in-law's house in South New Jersey for the night.
Strangely, getting out of NYC seemed easy (except for that $15 bridge toll-- ouch!) compared to coming in. But getting in to New Jersey, my plan to hit one more store is quickly thwarted by traffic. The "short" drive in distance ended up taking a total of four hours.
By the time I drove up to Pat's house I was downright dizzy with tired.
But opening the door to the smell of freshly baked cookies and an offer of a glass of milk felt like arriving at the pearly gates themselves.
Now that I don't have driving in NYC to dread anymore, I have my sights firmly set on the light at the end of the tunnel.
New Jersey and Delaware tomorrow.
Then it's back to real life on Monday.
It's been a crazy three weeks!