The adventure begins with the drive. Thursday, I left from Washington DC to finalize my housing situation in New Jersey. I got pretty nervous when I left since I was literally going in territory I have never gone before. I felt a bit like Samwise Gamgee in The Fellowship of the Ring when he and Frodo are leaving the outskirts of the Shire. He stops walking and says, “This is it… If I take one more step, it’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been.”
Frodo, of course, comes back with something not entirely original. “Come on, Sam. Remember what Bilbo used to say: ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.'”
In my case, I was swept off to Staten Island.
After a long but pretty simple trek, mostly on I-95, I made it to my destination. I now have a place to stay not too terribly far from where I’ll be working. (Yay! Part one of living the dream done: housing.) I’ll be living in a predominately latino community with lots of families in the neighborhood. The two people I’m staying with are latino and speak decent English, but I can’t understand everything they say. From what I’m told, the only markets nearby are either Mexican, Portuguese or Chinese. Especially since city life is foreign to me, I’m appears to me as if I’m studying abroad.
The introductions went well and the only thing I had left to do was go back to DC to stay for a few days before I could officially move in. With a old-school map and no GPS, I picked out the way to leave Jersey. Ten minutes later, I crossed a bridge and was staring at a sign welcoming students to the College of Staten Island. Yes, in New York. I had misjudged the road I was taking and it didn’t have an exit where I thought.
At this point, I’m not only in New York, I’m out $15 buck (tolls are TERRIBLE in the Northeast, and the biggest one is when you cross into NY. Figures.) AND in rush hour traffic. It’s not as bad as it could have been, I suppose, because there was no accidents or anything to slow the traffic down even more, but man, was it slow-going. I said a few (inaudible) words to the much-too-aggressive drivers that almost took my life. I’ll save you details of the frustrating ride home and just say I made it safely.
I’m off to my new place for good tomorrow, and I’m nervous. The adventure of Sam and Frodo was tragically amazing, but it is a book/movie. When you follow them on their adventure, you suspend your disbelief when you begin their story, knowing the because it’s a story it’ll probably turn out well. The places that they were swept off to didn’t (entirely) keep them down. But this is a bit different. My summer experience could make or break my journalistic career and I need to be ready for anything. Where will I be swept off to?