Ralph Waldo Emerson was an early nineteenth century poet and one of his rather famous quotes was, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” I can’t help but wonder if good old Ralph was also a single person on his journey to find true love and therefore wrote this quote as a way to help ease his lonely nights. We all have these ideas of what we think our lives will be and how they will turn out but as well all know and have experienced…life throws us some serious curve balls from time to time. How many times have we worked so hard for something only to find out that it isn’t exactly what we were dreaming about? Or once we achieved our goal we want to change something about? With all our hard work that each of us try for every single day to our journey to eternal happiness, I couldn’t help but wonder…is it really about the journey or the destination?
There are so many things that I love about living in New York City that there isn’t enough time in the day to even begin to explain them all but there is are also times when you look forward to getting away from it all and experiencing something different. For me it is a placed called, Fire Island. I have been lucky and fortunate enough to be able to have a summer share for more years than I care to admit to. For those that have experienced it and for those that will in the future, there is no other place like it, maybe that is what makes it so unique. However, the journey to get to this island isn’t exactly always the easiest and it requires a subway, a train, a van and a ferry but if you are like me and have terrible luck with travel, sometimes the journey can be one big pain in the ass. Luckily for me, I have friends to help me to not get lost.
So, this past Thursday, a few of us all met at Penn Station and took a 9:36 a.m. train. Each year, I always look forward to the very first weekend that we are out on the beach. Everything seems new yet at the same time extremely familiar and comforting. By the time we completed the train and the van and were sitting on the ferry to take us to the island everything about life just seems to be washed away. You no longer care about work, your relationship status of even the news. All you care about is the weather and that first cocktail. True to form, we arrive at our destination after the two hour commute and started to explore the house. It didn’t take long before the music was on, the lotions were applied and all of us were sitting by the pool gossiping. The evening was your typical evening that consisted of food, drinks and well…more drinks.
I woke up on Friday feeling strangely well rested considering I went to bed late and had been over served with the cocktails. I decided the best way to feel even better was to sweat it out and so I did a two mile run and by the time I came back from my run, more of my friends in the house had arrived. I was looking forward to Friday because that was the day that our entire house would be together. By the time 6 p.m. had rolled around, the entire house was present, drinks were over flowing and we were all getting ready to head to our first tea of the season. On the walk from our house to town, I couldn’t help but think of how wonderful the journey was to get to this destination and how grateful I was to be with the people that I was with. I knew I had to make the most out of that night because my trip this time was going to be cut short due to a wedding I was attending the next day. After the tea, we all went back to our house for a big family dinner. Each family dinner can feel like Thanksgiving. The food is always delicious, the drinks never stop and you are surrounded by a tremendous amount of love and Saturday night’s dinner was certainly no exception. It was wonderful. After dinner, another outfit change and we were back in town to see what was going on. After awhile, we all decided to head back home and that is where we ended up playing games till we all started to fade off one by one.
Saturday morning and I was ready to take on the challenge of me traveling all by myself from the island back to the city. Usually I have someone with me because, as I mentioned, bad luck tends to follow me but I told myself that I can do this and that there should be no reason that I cannot do this solo. I said goodbye to the few friends that were awake and onto the ferry I went. In truth, I didn’t want to leave the island, I wanted just one more day by the beach and one more day to get tanned but I knew that my friend’s wedding was more important. After the ferry ride and after the van I was on the Long Island Railroad heading back to Manhattan. I was so proud of myself for doing this journey all on my own. When we arrived at the stop Babylon, I noticed that the train doors were open for a long time but I had my music on so loud that I wasn’t paying attention to what was happening around me. I did see several people get off the train but I just thought the stop was a major transfer spot. Then after about ten minutes of the doors being open, they closed and the train started moving. However, the train was moving in the wrong direction. It was going back the way I just came!!! I quickly got up and looked around and there was no one on the train except one guy. He motioned for me to take my ear plugs out and he said, “You do know that the train was having track problems and they are going back now.” Suddenly my achievement of doing this journey without any drama had ended. I asked the guy what we should do next and he suggested we get off at the next stop and get a cab back to the city.
I didn’t know this man at all, never seen him before but he did say he was also coming from Fire Island. He wasn’t from the city but needed to get to Penn Station in order to catch a train to Baltimore. I explained how time sensitive it was for me as well for I had a wedding in a few hours in Brooklyn. We get to the next stop and get off the train but we can’t find a cab. This stranger suggests that we get to a gas station and call a car service. Seeing that I have no idea what I am doing, I follow the guy across the train tracks and we find a gas station. On the walk to the gas station, this stranger asks me if I have a lighter and I tell him that I don’t smoke. He says, “Well, do you have a pipe?” I wasn’t sure what he was asking and so I asked what he needed this pipe for and his response was, “Because I want to do a hit of crystal.” Great. The only person I end up meeting on the train is a crystal meth head and I am in the middle of Long Island somewhere. When we get to the gas station, he asked me if I would go inside and ask the cashier about a car service since he was feeling paranoid from the drugs. I go inside the gas station and explain the situation to the cashier and I must say I have never met a nicer cashier in my life. The guy was extremely sympathetic and he called a friend of his who happened to be a driver and said it would be about fifteen minutes till he arrives. So, I bought my new crack head friend a bottle of water since he was sweating profusely and we sat outside waiting for the car. As we waited, my new found friend began talking my ear off about plants. Apparently he is a landscaper in Baltimore and collects plants. Standing in the heat, listening to this guy talk about plants while he chain smoked and all I could think was, “How on earth did I get myself in this situation?” FINALLY the car service arrives and we ask how much it would cost to just take us to the city and he quoted us $120.00. We decline that offer and tell him to take us to the next train station on a different train line and we would just get back to the city from there. So, now I am sitting in the back seat of a town car with my crack head friend and he is still going on about the plants and now the driver chimes in about his plant collection. This journey was certainly turning out to be one of the worse experiences of my life. When we finally get on the train heading back to the city, I immediately put my music on and pretend to be asleep because my new friend wanted to show me photos of the plants on his iPad. Four very long hours later and we were back in the city. I wished my new friend all the luck with catching his train to Baltimore and I sprinted back to my apartment. I had exactly one hour to get showered, dressed and head to Brooklyn for the wedding.
When I got on the subway heading to Brooklyn, I couldn’t believe what I had already experienced and it was only 5:30 in the afternoon. Also while on the subway, I realized that I left the wedding present on my kitchen table. If it isn’t one thing it is certainly another and so once I got off the subway I was able to finally relax because I had somehow managed to get to the wedding on time. After looking around and seeing all the people dressed to the nines and how lovely the decorations were I began to let go of my journey to the wedding and realized that it was all about the destination.
As we sat outside of the venue, MyMoon, I looked around at all the handsome couples and couldn’t help but selfishly think of how great it would be to have someone I was in love with sitting by my side to witness my friends get married. The ceremony was short, sweet and hilarious. Once the champagne began flowing all was right with the world. Every single person was in great spirits, the weather was amazing and the company was equally delightful. Once we were seated and it was time for the speeches I wasn’t at all prepared for the wave of emotions that was about to come. The father of the bride came up and began talking about his daughter, his love for her, her complexities, how proud he was of her and how much he missed her since they don’t even live in the same country. There wasn’t a dry eye at our table and I once again found myself selfishly thinking that I hope one day my own father will be able to say those things about me and that I will make him proud. After we dried our eyes, ate the meal it was time for my favorite part of a wedding…the dancing. We danced for several hours, then went to a bar nearby and after only one more drink it was time for me to take my ass home.
Yesterday I was determined to get some quality time in with myself. Clean the apartment, lay out in Central Park and run some errands. However, I was contacted by this matchmaker I had met about a month ago to attend some singles mixer he was hosting later that afternoon. I told myself that this will probably not be good because who wants to attend a mixer inside a dark bar when it is so gorgeous outside. However, this dating thing is like the lottery, you can’t win if you don’t play. So, I got dressed and headed over the bar, Bartini. There were already a few people when I arrived and let’s just say that it wasn’t the most attractive crowd but I still treated everyone with respect and nodded as they told me about themselves. Finally, about three quarters of the way through the event as I was talking with someone when I felt someone actually kick my shin. I looked to see who it was and it was the British Reporter I had dated last year and just recently reconnected with a few weeks ago. I had no idea whatsoever that he was going to be there and I knew that the rest of the event was going to be spent with him. There was something different about him and then it occurred to me that he showed up a little intoxicated. He kept pouring on the compliments and I felt uncomfortable with them and so I tried to introduce him to someone else that might be better suited for him. Here I was at a singles event and trying to set up my ex with someone else. It was there that I just decided to cut my losses for the evening, said goodbye and went home.
As we all know, it is important to have dreams, goals and desires and to really pay attention on the journey that it takes to get to our destinations in life. Because if we don’t pay attention, we could actually miss out on life’s many opportunities. I believe that when life gives us new directions, that is when we actually arrive at a better destination. I guess Ralph had it right all along with saying that life is in fact a journey and not a destination.
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