If Jess Drives to NYC, She’s Going to Need a Milkshake

I drove into the city* last Friday for the first time ever in the entirety of this thing which is my life. In the hours leading up to my drive, I was quite certain my life would not continue should I proceed with carrying out this task.

*Which city, you ask? Come now, don’t you even know me?

For you rock stars out there who have already done this (and continue to) with little to no anxiety, more power to you. You are my heroes and you deserve an outpouring of praise and admiration.

20170804_170226 I romanticized choosing the first time I’d drive into New York.

Perhaps it would be a day where Hubby didn’t feel like driving, and I’d have to step in. Or, it would be a day where I felt daring, and up to the challenge. Maybe it would be a day someone desperately needed a ride, and I was their only hope.

The sun would be shining. The air would be crisp and scented with autumn leaves. Frank Sinatra would be playing on the radio and my cup holder would be housing a cappuccino; less foam, please.

I’ll admit it; I shot myself in the foot on this one. Hubby had to go into the city for work and immediately I gave him the puppy dog eyes of longing. It was after he’d agreed to stay in the city to meet up with me that I realized I’d have to drive there myself. Had I realized the logistics of this, I might have withheld my unceasing longing for any opportunity to go into the city.

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Sure, I’ll bet you’re thinking, ‘But, what about the train?’

I’ve done the math, and either way, it’s no good. It’s only slightly cheaper from where we live to take the train than to drive.* But the real kicker, the thing which really pushed me towards driving, is the added time and hassle of taking the train. Making your way back to Penn Station after a day in the city is bad enough, then waiting for the train, the mad rush to the line your train is on, hoping the train is running on time, the ride home (usually 80-90 minutes) then the twenty minute drive back from the station–it makes you do things like force yourself to drive into the city, even when you’ve never done it before.

*And with every person who tags along it adds up in favor of driving.

This was, after all, the biggest cause of my anxiety. I’d never done it before, and now I was going to do it. Alone.

I’m not a dramatic person by nature, I swear. So, I was a little annoyed with how much I became worked up over something as simple as driving. I can only liken the feeling to something of interview or performance nerves; that prickly, sweaty sensation paired with stomach butterflies which plant themselves inside you and stay until the task is complete.

This is exactly how I’d feel as passenger the first couple of times Hubby drove in the city. Not because he was having difficulty, but because the mere thought of having to drive among that circus stressed me out.

And now, I was part of it.

For about forty minutes of my ride on the turnpike I listened to a WWI podcast to calm my nerves.

That’s right. Listening about one of the most brutal wars in history calmed me down.

Once I passed the parkway exit, and knew I was getting closer, the Type A in me overcame all else and I transformed into serious driver mode. I adjusted my mirrors, sat up straight,  and knew the location of every car within a thirty-foot radius. Somewhere between I-78 and the Holland Tunnel, I found myself latching onto whatever car was in front of me. When they’d change lanes or take an exit, I felt abandoned and needed to search for a new car to cozy up to.

Once through the Holland Tunnel, this turned out to be not so smart a tactic, because all hell broke loose. I might be a little bias, because I was the one driving, but I swear the Holland Tunnel exit has never been so congested when Hubby has driven. Cars sped by, double lanes formed where there only appeared to be one, trucks squeezed into openings which looked hardly large enough for a motorcycle, and it seemed everyone knew exactly where they were going.

Even though on the outside I probably looked like I knew what I was doing*, inside I was shrieking. I followed a truck for a little bit, assuming he would clear the way for me, and then became uncertain I was going the right way.

*I’ve got a natural mean mug.

But that’s the beauty of the city. Eventually, you can loop back around to where you need to be.

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In the end, I was on the right street, but in my anxiety, I’d convinced myself I’d taken a misstep.

As I approached the parking garage* I’d chosen hours earlier when my fear over driving into the city first struck, I knew it wasn’t THE garage I wanted.

*Because there’s no way I’d ever been capable of street parking. I have a system in choosing garages.

First, it needs to be in a semi-decent area*. Second, they need to be a name I know.** Third, they need to be within a short walking distance of where I’m planning to end the night.

*This is 100% biased and completely based on the look of the street.

**No way am I parking at a lot with a random jumble of letters and numbers as its name.

I pulled in, threw my keys at the attendant*, grabbed my ticket, and ran to the streets where foot to pavement felt much, much safer than tire to street ever did.

*Leaving my house keys in the cup holder and causing a mini panic attack later that night when I realized they weren’t in my purse.

I’m going to be real with you, people, because I know you wouldn’t want it any other way. The second I saw Lance I said, Max Brenner’s is a block that way, let’s go. I need a milkshake.

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And then, after my milkshake, we visited a bakery next door and my nerves finally calmed.

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