I’m shivering. And I’m late. As usual. This time I can’t even blame my little ones. This time I’m heading to New York City all by myself. I shiver again.
I watch the drops bead down the truck window. I swallow hard. Try to breathe. Offer one more silent prayer before I throw it in reverse and spray gravel on the driveway during my big exit.
I arrive at the cramped Amtrak station. The train is late. It’s a tender mercy. I smile in spite of myself. I’m going to make it after all.
The railway ride is long. We are packed in like damp cattle. Some little ones scurry on the floor, spilling snacks and screaming bloody murder. But they’re not mine! I put in my earplugs and work on my laptop.
And then I am there. Standing in Penn station, with my bags and my bright eyes–but not too bright. Trying to look tough and blend in. Rushing through the crowd as if I know my way. Finally paying for an overpriced cab rather than exploring downtown on foot … by myself … at night.
Once I’m in the car, I can’t resist. I press my nose to the glass like a school girl, gawking at the neon and the rush. Times Square and the Empire State Building pass in the blink of an eye. Hot dog stands, alleys, crowds, and muck. It’s all there. And so am I. I feel the pulse of the city, and it thrills me.
I’m in a taxi in NYC. I’m one piece of the picture.
I meet the women at the hotel. We will all be attending the conference together. We are tired. Many have traveled much farther than I have. I feel awkward, but trust that I will find my place in the morning.
The night passes. Haggard women trickle in on the red-eye. We are all weary travelers come to join our wills and voices for a purpose. In our room, there are four. A mish mash of sorts, assembled from different teams. Thrown together. Extras from other rooms. We are a perfect fit. We laugh at the unlikely, yet happy circumstance of rooming together. Like so many other funny little things … like my late train … it is a tender mercy. It was meant to be.
Photos: railway line (top), FreeDigitalPhotos.net/graur codrin; times square, FreeDigitalPhotos.net/franky242