I’d pressed the Buy a Breeze Card button ten times when a hand reached around my shoulders and pressed the button next to where I thought the button was.
“Now put your credit card in.”
I put in the card. “No, the other way.”
She was in uniform, working for Atlanta’s transit system, I finally figured, and not just a friendly bystander. Her job was to keep me from calling a cab to go from the airport to the hotel. Why spend $40 when a $2 ride would get you there? Right?
I was grateful, overly grateful for her help. “I bet you wonder how I can even feed myself,” I joked. She looked at me like, sure, honey, whatever. You and a hundred other idiots are part of my day, every day.
A few minutes later as I stood tapping my new card against the glass door to get on the MARTA train, her hand appeared again to point to the place on the gate where I was supposed to tap my card.
I thanked her and thanked her, turned around as I was getting on the escalator up to the station and yelled, “Pray for me” like I had suddenly become the single biggest boob in the history of the universe.
Why was I acting so daft? Like I had just recently been released from a place where I’d been hemming skirts all day and eating porridge?
It dawned on me while I was sitting on the train, the Red Line to Buckhorn Station, I say that because those were the instructions on the paper I took out of my bag 100 times, unfolding it, reading it, refolding it, looking at the map on the wall, all the while advertising to the world that I could be kidnapped and not know for years that I wasn’t at Buckhorn Station. Buckhorn Station, it took on mythical properties, like Abbey Road, a place of magic I knew I could never visit, just think about it until I became a queer, mumbling, aging blogger pulling her purple suitcase behind her, up and down the escalator, part of the scenery for passers-by.
The train experience wasn’t all that great.
And I figured out why. I had forgotten how to travel alone.
I’m used to going everywhere with my husband. If my husband had been at the train station today, all the same things would have happened except he would be the one making dumb mistakes and I would be able to step back and second guess him. We would be baffled and bumbling together. We might even have an argument about when to get off the train and he might accuse me of always trying to tell him what to do.
So as I was sitting on the train, slowly realizing that I had gotten off at the wrong stop and gotten back on the wrong train and was now on the Gold Line to Doraville, on a long branch of track that would take me miles away from the never-seen but beloved Buckhorn Station, I reflected on this. I thought about how I’d gotten really dependent on double-think. Like we were strange, little married twins, finishing each other’s sentences and having to hold hands every time things got a little confusing.
Oh good grief.
You are a grown person, I told myself, maybe even over-grown. You can take a trip by yourself, get around without a buddy, figure out how to get to the shining Buckhorn Station on a hill. This is something you can do, Ms. I’m a Feminist Blogger.
So I gave myself a pep talk which essentially amounted to this: Stop being a little weenie and go find a fucking cab.
And I did. All by myself.