I told you of the time I moved to New York with a guy I met in a bar, but did I tell you how I got home? No? Well, it was a wild ride. You see, the move to New York with That Boy I met in a bar, not surprisingly, did not end well. I was in the throes of alcoholism and he was, well, I think maybe just scared and regretful. Whatever the motivation, I got pissed at him one night because, even though I had moved out, I thought it rude to invite a girl over, have some fun, then tell her you have to go to work, but really go to a bar to meet another girl. How do I know he did this? Because like any crazed ex-girlfriend in the throes of active alcoholism, I followed him.
And when I walked into the bar and saw him standing there casually drinking his beer talking to some girl after spending the first part of the evening with me, I freaking lost it. For God’s sake, I could still taste him on me and here he was chatting up some Long Island skank who couldn’t pronounce an “-er” if her life depended on it. So I slapped his beer cup on the bottom so that the beer splashed into his face, I called him a dick and I left. I walked right to his car and slashed the two tires against the curb. Classy, huh?
What do you expect? I was 21. And did I mention I was in the throes of alcoholism? Yeah, that combination kind of makes you a little irrational. I then got into my Toyota Tercel and decided to head home that very night. I made it to somewhere in PA before it hit me that all my stuff was back in my apartment in Long Island and I didn’t have enough money to make it all the way home. This was the early 90’s before cell phones, so I stopped at a pay phone and called my Dad collect. I told him the awful and terrible things That Boy had done and that I wanted to come home. He told me to go back to Long Island and that he and Mom would come get me. They would bring their van and drive up so we could bring my stuff home. Even at 4am with 2 Mountain Dews in me, this seemed like a better and more rational plan.
My sister also decided to fly up early before my parents came. She would commiserate with me and help me pack my stuff. I was late picking her up at the airport because I was telling That Boy goodbye on the beach. Again, do I need to tell you my state of mind? None of my decisions at that time in my life was rooted in anything other than the desire to physically be with That Boy. I must remember this when my own child is a teen or young adult…it all made perfect sense to me then…and in some strange ways, to me now as well.
I got lost on the way to the airport. By the time I got there, she was waiting alone by baggage claim. She had the airport page me several times. I would have been furious, but she was genuinely concerned, which made me sad. I almost wished she would have hated me. It would have validated what I felt about myself.
She didn’t hate me. She went with me to the bar and made it seem charming instead of pathetic that I drank every night with a dispatcher from my job, who was 20 years older than me, 40 pounds overweight and obviously in love with me. She genuinely liked my married friend whose house I hung out at every night because I had nowhere else to go. I would sometimes watch her kid while her and her husband went out to see a movie. I think I ate dinner at their house every night for 4 months.
I started writing this thinking it was going to be funny, but so far it really isn’t, is it?
Anyway, after a series of crazy mis-steps including my parents’ van breaking down, my lame attempt to kill myself by taking a handful of Actifed (my sinuses were VERY clear the next day) and my parents’ eventual departure in my Tercel, Emily and I packed up the van and headed home to New Orleans. My few precious belongings were packed into the newly repaired van, we had a couple packs of cigarettes and a map. We were set.
All we had to do was get out of New York, which is not as easy as it seems. Yes, Long Island is jutting out into the Ocean so it seems logical to head West, but then you have to eventually cut through Manhattan…or at least we did, and that is where things got hairy for a bit, but them we were on the open road, headed away from That Boy, that city and my heart.
To get out of the city, if I recall correctly, we had to get on the Jersey turnpike. As we approached the turnpike, I told my sister, who was in the passenger seat navigating, that when That Boy and I had gone to Florida to visit his father, that the toll was something like $12. We had that thought in our minds when we approached the turnpike toll booth and that guy said “50.” I went nuts first, “Fifty? Fifty? Are you fucking nuts? What the fuck is wrong with this god-damned state?” Meanwhile, in the passenger seat, my sister is fumbling for her purse, asking the man if he would take a check because we don’t have that much cash.
Finally, after no doubt considering calling the cops or the nut house, the toll booth guys calmly says, “50 cents.”
“Oh,” I say sheepishly and handed him 2 quarters.
I am thankful the van had Louisiana plates and that perhaps he attributed our stupidity to all the dirt we eat down here below the Mason Dixon line.