By Susan English
Copyright 2011 by Susan English
What does it take to see the world? Money? A good travel agent? Extended vacation time? Or just maybe all it takes is $700, a bicycle, and an indomitable spirit.
As the subway train pulled into Grand Central Station, I glanced at my watch. 9:30. I felt a slight twinge in my gut, and stepped out onto the platform. People were streaming past me, a steady flow of bodies. Everyone looked like they knew where they were going. I shifted my pack on my shoulders and pushed my way through the crowd. Life suddenly seemed overwhelmingly complicated.
Okay, first things first, I thought. I need to get my bike. I’d shipped her via Greyhound Package Express, and that office was, allegedly, somewhere in Port Authority. I approached a woman selling newspapers, who gave me vague, convoluted directions: go through this door, turn left, turn right, go outside and around to the back of the building. I thanked her, even though I only absorbed about half of what she said. As I was walking out the door I looked at my watch again: 9:46. I shifted my pack, took a deep breath, and set off in search of Package Express.
Eventually I stumbled upon it. For some odd reason the office was down an obscure alley, removed from the hustle and bustle of the station. My pack was killing me by then. Good lord what had I packed, anyway? I gave the guy at the counter my claim ticket and leaned with my back against the wall, trying to ease the weight on my shoulders while he disappeared into a back room. I wanted to remove the pack but it was such a struggle to get it back on. When he returned I couldn’t believe my eyes: the box was huge! My jaw felt like it dropped to my knees.