At 7:25 each morning I warm up my car and prep for my trek into New York. From the moment I walk out of my house it will take me exactly 90 minutes to reach the door to my office. I drive to the train station 5 minutes away, park my car and walk up the long stairway to the train platform.
I then stand in a heated box that smells strongly of urine and is riddled with germs. Some days I stand on the platform and look to the east and watch the birds fly through the early morning sky. The way the sun peaks through the clouds gives me an inner sense of peace. I try to savor those moments.
Then the train comes, hundreds of us shove ourselves into the tin box and race for a seat. No one wants to stand on the LIRR for 59 minutes. We sit in empty rows that grow more packed at each stop. It’s likely that you’ll never get a two-seater all to yourself. When people ask me if they can sit I stand up and let them in at the window seat. I have claustrophobia and I’d rather not be suffocated the entire ride.
As the train pulls into New York, I bundle up; Scarf, hat, big hood, gloves, the works. I gather my backpack or my purse (depending on my mood), stick my ear buds in and get ready to embark the frigid temps. My office is 6 blocks away from Penn Station. I walk the same route every day and I often see the same people from the LIRR walking in the same direction as me, the same police officers, same performers, even the same homeless people.
I feel the energy of the city. Everyone in a hurry. So many people. Thousands of people. Big herds of humans all rushing to work. And in that moment of chaos I think to myself “I finally did it. I made it to New York.”
I can hardly remember my Long Island work life before. I can remember how it made me feel. Dead. Unhappy. Empty. It couldn’t feed me the way this new job does. I felt stuck. Trapped. Suffocated. I’d rather be suffocated on an hours long train to New York than trapped in that old position again.
Commuting 3 hours a day sure isn’t easy. There’s a lot you sacrifice from living so far away from your career. No more time to work out or go out for dinners with friends back on LI. On a rare occasion I go out in the city after work, I get back to my house late at night and it affects my ability to relax. Everything is a prep. I bring a change of shoes, lunch every day, cup of coffee, breakfast on the go. Head phones, train pass, work ID, car keys. It requires responsibility and planning.
All of it makes me feel alive. I feel … NORMAL. like a real, live educated 25 year old woman. Every moment of stress and planning is worth it because I FINALLY found the city I was meant for.