This Isn't One of Those Moments

November 12, 2007
This isn’t one of those moments where my whole world changed and I became a better person. I did no incredible deed nor achieved any unthinkable goal however in my young existence of a mere sixteen years it was a pretty big step in my life and my view on freedom. It does include a boy, but don’t be discouraged this isn’t any sappy love story, the boy is merely how my story begins. I had been into NYC hundreds of times before, alone with friends and with my family but never completely and utterly by myself and although it may sound small and this trip alone made me feel for the first time like a true teenager.

The familiar train doors opened with a hiss and I felt a frantic feeling, as I scanned the car for an open seat, one preferably alone. I was overcome with relief to spot an entire row empty in the back. As I maneuvered my way through the tight isle I glanced at the people I passed politely smiling. The shiny seats made a crackling sound beneath my hands as I pushed myself closer to the window. As the train rolled from the station I waved goodbye to my dad on the platform, I was completely alone. Settling into my seat I breathed a liberating sigh of relief. The moment the door of the train closed the door to my independence opened and let me tell you, I was more than ready to stroll through. The noise of the car was drowned out by my Ipod headphones, which sung a mix I had pre-selected. I smiled out loud, the music a selection of boy bands and Motown ushered an unpredicted happiness. I had expected to feel good but never this exhilarated. I felt alive. From this newfound excitement emerged an invincible confidence to do some serious people watching. From my corner of the train car I watched and observed my fellow commuters. Two twenty something year old boys gazed adoringly at a leggy businesswoman as she jabbered on and on into her chic cell phone. A mother two rows ahead blinked over tired eyes as she juggled three young children who were crankily teasing each other. A middle-aged man in a grey suit clutched his briefcase the entire hour and a half trip. As I observed the lives of the people who surrounded me I felt like for the first time I was part of something bigger. No longer a child who needed supervision, I was able to emerge into society as an individual. I was so caught up in my analytical trance that I almost hadn’t noticed the time fly by and in a sudden flash the train was snatched into the darkness of the Grand Central tunnel. I squinted out the window into a black vastness, finding reassurance in the rhythmic sway of the train car. I was Alice in wonderland traveling down the hole into another world. The train finally came to a stop and as the doors opened I was trapped in a flow of people, my feet moving mechanically, matching the pace of the people around me. I was lost in the crowd of tourists and businessmen. This place that I had been so many times suddenly felt foreign. Our train had arrived in the lower level of the station and as the people dispersed in every which way I felt less claustrophobic. I wish I could say I did it all alone. I walked up those flights of stairs into the terminal all on my own, with my newfound independent view on life. I would be lying if I did. I must admit I stopped to call a friend back home. The call reminded me not to get ahead of myself; I was far from an independent adult. With the needed reassurance I trudged up the marble staircase my hand clutching the smooth gold rail that was smudged with fingerprints. At the top of the stairs I was greeted by a sea of people bustling to and fro the terminal. Looking out into the crowd of New Yorkers I realized that I was still stuck in my suburban pace of slow motion and quickened my steps to fit in the bustling flow.

Remember that boy I mentioned before? Well I guess you can say he is more important than I originally led you to believe. He is the reason I first entered the train alone. He is the pure reason I stood in the middle of Grand Central terminal completely solo. He is the one I deem responsible for such strong teenage feelings of freedom and independence. He was an adventure that opened a world of new experiences, which gave me my first taste of adulthood. He met me that afternoon at the information booth where the elegant oversized clock kept the frantic travelers below on schedule.

My hands were shaky as I dialed his number and for the few seconds we spoke everything else around me blurred away into oblivion. As I waited for him to meet me I felt a vulnerability I had never experienced before, at least not to this extent. In any past situation I would have had someone to talk to, get out those jittery feelings but I wasn’t in luck. I glanced around unsure of where he would come from, which door would he appear out of. Why did there have to be so many entrances in this place? Wrapped up in a state of frustrating anticipation I almost didn’t feel the light tap on my shoulder. As I turned around my nervousness ceased as I found myself greeted by kind eyes and an eager smile.

Back and forth, back and forth, the comforting sway of the train car lulled me into a peaceful mood as I made my way back home. In the past two days I had felt more alive and free than ever before. I had gained the confidence to be alone and the taste of true teenage independence. I will never forget that train ride, that weekend and especially that boy.

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