Street walking.

19 08 2008

After an evening yoga class last night, wherein my mat was so slippery I could not properly do a particular pose that brings me great joy, I managed to take the wrong train back to Queens, and found myself two streets away from Queens Boulevard at almost ten o’clock with a bloody toe, and tears squeezing themselves out the corners of my eyes. I walked out of the subway station and, unbeknownst to me, headed back toward Manhattan and soon realized I was totally lost, then, turning around and whimpering into the phone to Dennis that I had no idea where I was, I magically positioned myself using my brain’s GPS and realized I was about twenty blocks from home, in between two bridges, alone. 

Oh, how I huffed it over the bridge. It was a bridge that arched over the rail yards of Queens, a kind of dark and eerie place to begin with where I was sure there would be lurkers. Lurkers who would see my brand new yoga mat sticking out my eco-friendly canvas shopping bag, talking to Dennis on my cell phone, and who would surely come and steal me to dismember me behind an empty caboose. These were my thoughts as I broke Olympic speed walking records back to a familiar and more-populated area, and then quickly turned left and proceeded down a less-populated area where there were very few street lights. Honestly I’m not sure what I was thinking. 

Actually, I am sure what I was thinking. I was thinking, “I’d never do this in Brazil.” I was talking with someone on the train up to CT last Friday about safety in New York. He, a burly man in his thirties who’d lived all over the world, said he felt safer in New York than he did in other cities in the world. And I agreed. Granted, I wasn’t walking in the most dangerous part of the city (honestly I don’t even know where that would be) but I did feel secure. I didn’t have the fear I constantly had in Brazil, the kind that made me look behind me all the time when I walked alone down streets, the kind that made it almost impossible for me to walk alone at night. Here I just felt like I was a bit outside my comfort zone but that I would be alright.

UNTIL I heard a metal hinge creak and nearly shit myself.

My mother’s side of our family is very jumpy. A hiccup can make their hair stand on end, and my mom herself been known to scream expletives at a loud burp in the middle of a crowd. Last night, hearing the creaking metal hinge, the jump gene activated in turbo mode and I tripped over my foot in escape, scraping my left toe along the sidewalk, and without a second’s delay, suddenly felt my toe get slippery. My colon in a relaxed state a few blocks later, I saw blood gushing all over my purple flip flop. Dennis, who said he would meet me on my walk back, found me a block later a disheveled wreck, heart pounding and toe bleeding, my voice approaching such a frenzied pitch I’m surprised dogs didn’t come by to check on me.

But by the time we got home, my toe was dried and crusted over, my eyes had lost their crazy shine, and Dennis was nearly asleep. Back to normal. Except for the bloody toe, but soon as I washed it off, I saw all that blood had come from just a tiny scrape, a total overreaction. 

And to think the whole thing could have been avoided by a closer look at a subway map. Eh, it was an adventure.


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12 responses

19 08 2008
Joyce

Be careful of that street walking stuff. Always check the map — I carry several even in Vermont!!

19 08 2008
lynne cheslin

As a New Yorker(Long Island born), I worked in the city(at Tiffany and Co) and have in the past , spent numerous glorious times in the Big Apple.Although New Yorkers are a friendly lot(this is very true people!), I would “ex-nay” the lone walks at night…..thankfully, this lesson ended well and we go onward…..you are a chip off the old block my friend. Always seeking new adventures and then writing about them in ways inwhich we readers feel we’ve experienced events alongside you. Glad Dennis came to “save” you and that the boo-boo on your toe is only a reminder that this need never happen again……P.S. Have you visited any of the man-made waterfalls throughout the city yet? I know there is one(or two) by the Brooklyn Bridge and then some placed around the island….Check the East and Hudson Rivers too. Let me know… XOL.L.

20 08 2008
Susan

Made my heart pound. I’m a fraidy cat by nature even in little ole Little Rock Arkansas. Glad you made it safely back home. A friend bought me a compass and map as a joke one time because he said I was always lost.

20 08 2008
Catherine

Oh Gina! Please be careful! I’m so glad that everything turned out OK. Best of luck to you as you get ready for your new teaching adventure:).

20 08 2008
ladybughugs

You know that alarm inside your head that was blaring? That’s a defensive mechanism. A sixth sense, if you will. You’re supposed to listen to it and get yourself to a safer place. You can just as easily get mugged in Queens as Brazil. I’m glad Dennis came to the rescue. While New York may not be as bad as everyone might make it out to be it still can be very dangerous at night, alone.

22 08 2008
tico

Hey Gina,
Your uncle here gets a big kick out of the family startle reflex that you refer to. In truth it is a curse, although as ladybughugs says, it is a defensive sense that could (but hopefully never does) get you out of trouble.
My own case is just like Tina’s and when I went away to boarding school my jumpiness became a tick that was exploited mercilessly. Once kids saw my involuntary reactions to being scared it became popular sport. Here are some examples: Knowing that I had an early morning paper route through campus, a kid snuck into my room and hid in my closet. At 5:15 a.m. with the lights still out I reached in for my blazer and he lunged out at me screaming like a banchee…. Another time I went to bed and put my head on the pillow, but there was a boa constrictor inside the pillow case that rapidly slid under my body… another kid hid under my bed and at lights out just as I was stepping into bed he reached out and grabbed my ankle… another put an open petrie dish full of black widow spiders on my bed just before turning in….the students would hide behind corners everywhere and jump out. Eventually I developed what felt like an irregular heartbeat and the day was just one long moment of apprehension. These days I guess I’m lucky, though, because I have no more hair to stand on end!

22 08 2008
annefisler

Hey, great news for me on that last point, Tico – ha ha ha! I’d never heard of most of those awful stories at your boarding school before this – makes me want to find all those mean kids and strangle them. However, they also make my scaring exploits over you look pale by comparison, so I guess I owe them something…..

22 08 2008
tico

Actually, you started my irregular heartbeat, come to think of it. I owe you big time!

22 08 2008
ginacoggio

Really, Tico? A boa constrictor AND black widow spiders? How is the even possible???? Who WERE these boys that they could get their hands on these kinds of creatures?

22 08 2008
tico

Typical, I think, boys, who had them as pets in their dorm rooms. The kid with the black widows went on to be an accomplished oceanographer, underwater adventurer. On my very first day at St. Andrews, after my dad unceremoniously dumped me off at this strange place, I was walking down my hall past this kid’s room. The door was open and he saw me and said “Hey kid, come in here.” Like a puppy looking for some friendliness I went in and he proceeded to box my ears off. He’d gone to a military school the two previous years and the idea was to establish power over others at every chance.
But years later, when Henry was very little, we went down to Boca Raton to visit Mamama and I called him. He owned a marina/dive shop, and spent a day taking us around and had us to dinner. He was a total pacifist and was shocked when I recounted the above incident. But teenage boys… ever see the Lord of the Flies?

23 08 2008
Jennie

Oh my word. My heart was pounding so loudly as I read this! Glad you are okay.

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