Last night I had dinner in Manhattan with friends from my old job. It was a great time, but, more than that, it was a great moment to reflect on how much life can change in a few short months.
The traffic on the way in was bad. Epically, only-Manhattan-can-be-so-congested bad. It seems that a bus driver lost control of his bus in that hell-on-Earth known as the Port Authority Bus Terminal and the miserable little smog machine nearly did a swan dive off the second floor. They shut the whole thing down to investigate the accident, backing up traffic for miles away. Buses trying to get into New York from New Jersey were snarled in traffic of biblical proportions, if the bible told tales of buses instead of locusts.
By the time I arrived in New York, more than two hours after I left my house, they were just reopening the building to foot traffic. Harried commuters were coming at me in waves which reminded me very much of a swarm – of bees, of ants, of something less flattering, you decide. I was the one person headed into the mayhem while everyone else was trying to go home, forced to shove my way down and through a wall of people moving in the opposite direction.
But here’s the thing: I was totally at peace. I was almost amused. I had a good book on the ride and I reveled in the opportunity to listen to my music undisturbed. It was… fun. This same commute that had made me sick and frazzled and anxiety-riddled didn’t push any of my buttons. The distance had healed the madness. Manhattan had once again become a playground and not a prison.
After I battled my way out of the Port Authority I nearly skipped all the way to the restaurant, noticing the lights and sights as if for the first time.
It was a valuable thing to notice because I have a tendency to think that the thing that’s going on right this moment is eternal. (Conversely, I also have the object permanence of a toddler: if something isn’t happening RIGHT NOW I lose all faith that it will ever happen). So seeing that I’d healed so much from my awful commuting nightmares in just six months was really encouraging.
When I got to the Midtown eatery my friends commented on how happy and relaxed I looked. It felt good. I was happy with some of my favorite people. And that was all.