There are a lot of daunting prospects about being in a new city, and navigating the public transport is one of them. I don’t mind admitting that a lot of things about travelling give me anxiety, because I don’t really mind admitting most things, I’m an admitter. I feel like the things you can’t admit are the things that have power over you. I’ve become gradually more and more scared of travelling alone, as more and more time ticked past without me doing it. I always had a big plan to finish university and go back packing around Europe for six months, and even though I had the money all saved up for my ultra-cheap gadabout, it never happened because that money got spent on stupid life things like losing my job at Target, and stupid Patrick things, like producing a fringe play (badly).
I think because I am so incredibly bad at simple maths, I hold no faith in my ability to understand supposedly user-friendly systems, like public transport. Whenever anyone says ‘oh it’s simple, you’ll get it’ I immediately think ‘you don’t know how bad I am at getting things’. So it was with the bravery of a man walking into a spider-pit that I caught my first train in Manhattan yesterday. It’s still cold and raining and I decided that spending the day at the Met was a good idea.
The Met is this labyrinth of amazing things. I spent hours and hours wandering through history and art and just weird stuff. I got so enjoyably lost trying to find a bathroom. I found a really weird cafeteria and ate a banana. I tried to approach things systematically, working through Ancient Greece linearly, but after a while I just started taking side rooms, and from an exhibition of Chinese dresses, I’d walk into a room of old guns, and then a fully reconstructed Ancient Egyptian Temple. I could have bought a map I suppose, but sometimes it’s nice to not be organised.
I did a lot of research, I bought a thousand subway apps, and then, perhaps anticlimactically, I successful caught the subway. Four times in total, with a lot of confusing platforms and weird names, but it happened, and I am quietly chuffed. I have very modest fears and doubts, and I like destroying them systematically. In the words of Skyscraper Stan, ‘I’m gonna take this fucking city, just you watch me!’ and by ‘take’ I mean ‘navigate it at a minimally acceptable level’.