Wednesday, July 16, 2008

9:30 PM and Lost in Central Park

I am usually a master of avoiding things that terrify me, but last night it was all my fault.

Reuben and I were going to meet some friends for the Philharmonic concert on the Great Lawn. It started out as a good plan, but then things got in the way. I didn't get to leave when I wanted because our grocery delivery was late, and then Justin needed me to stop on campus for him, and then I didn't get any cell phone reception on the great lawn. I tried the crowd for a while, but my fear of crowds overwhelmed me, and I gave up the idea of trying to find our friends. So, I wanted to find a place where we could at least see the fire works at the end. But we got so far back that it was just smoking drunk people talking real loud. (Seriously, if you just want the picnic go somewhere else so the people who wished they could hear the music would have a chance.)

And then the mistake. I let my fear of crowds convince me that I could make it out of the park before it got dark. AH. HA. I probably could have if Central Park was not the maze that it is. So, it got darker and darker, and I got farther and farther away from the crowd. I stuck pretty close to a couple that was walking in front of me for a while, but then we ran into the stairs by Bethesda fountain and I lost them. We saw a raccoon eating out of garbage. We saw homeless people settling down for the night. We saw big dark trees, and curvy pathways. My heart raced, my lungs shrank, my eyes stopped focusing, and I had to keep walking because I thought if I stopped I'd pass out (and then who would protect Reuben?).

Then we saw buildings above the trees. I have never been so happy to see the city. I got out of the park and discovered that I was really not where I thought I was heading. I was hoping for 72nd, instead I saw this:

I was giddy when I saw the apple store! "They" have done a study that said that seeing the apple symbol made people work more intelligently and creatively (I heard it on NPR, it has to be true.) There was a well-lit plaza with a fountain in it across the street, and just as many tourists as homeless, so I sat down and called Justin.

Me: "You need to come get me."
Justin: "Where are you? Are you okay?"
Me: "Just come get me. I'm by the apple store."
Justin: "Are you okay?"
Me: holding back tears "I'm in a well-lit place with lots of people around. Just come get me."

Then Reuben told me I was crying, and said "Kiss it better?"

An hour, a taxi, and 40 dollars later I was home in bed. If the apple symbol really made people think better I would have just hailed my own taxi and saved 20 dollars, so now I have my doubts about NPR.

Uneventful, I know, but not the take-advantage-of-the-city post I wanted. And, now I will never even try to get that post because I'm not going to scare myself like that ever again.


JoJo said...

AHH! I would have freaked out. I hate being anywhere alone (with Peter is alone according to me, because it's not like he can protect me!) at night... I can't imagine in Central Park...

I'm glad you're okay!

The Jones :) said...

Yikes Phatty...I'm glad you guys are/were scary though!! Be careful out there...things like this make me nervous for you!! You're braver then I am though...I would've just sat down and cried...yikes!!
-Becki :)

Kourtney said...

Oh man, that sounds so genuinely awful! It's crazy how turned around we can get in Central Park. We have also ended up at the completely wrong corner before. Ugh. Well I'm glad you made it back safely. Thank goodness for cell phones. And $40 isn't too terrible in the whole scheme of things... but still painful.

Ms. Reasor said...

One time, I was lost on the dark streets of Guadalajara with a dog following me, until I turned onto a dark alleyway and met a nun who pointed me in the right direction. Sounds like a movie, eh? It wasn't...and don't tell your mother.

Gayle said...

I'm not being critical Brecken, I'd be terrified too. But it does sound like you had an anxiety attack and maybe you would benefit from a medication. It doesn't sound like it's the first time you've felt this way.

Jed and Kate said...

Scary! Yes, Central Park is a maze! I have gotten lost in it every time I've visited it. I guess "they" specifically designed it that way so it would be a break from the grid-pattern of the city streets. That's nice of "them" but I get completely turned around as a result. That Apple store where you exited the park is actually right in front of my office. In fact, in your picture, if you look through the transparent box covering the Apple store you can see my building directly behind it. I wish I somehow telepathically knew you were there and I could have called you to tell you exactly how to get home. Sorry you had to have such a traumatic experience!

charrette said...

Terrifying, especially with a toddler in tow...yet somehow okay. I LOVE that the Apple symbol was the light at the end of the tunnel! I'm a believer....

I think you need to venture back into the park soon. (Kind of like falling of a bike, and getting back on.) Your intentions were so good, and the potential for a wonderful memory there was strong. You need a good do-over...for you AND for Reuben.

Tammy Lorna said...

Oh dear Brecken. I'm glad you're okay! I hate being out late in the dark by myself. When I park the car at work, I always try and park close, so that if I end up working late, I don't have to walk far in the dark (especially since it's right by a park under a bridge with lots of homeless people and almost no streetlights! Or, at 5:30pm when other pepole start to leave, I go and get my car and park it by the door.
But every now and again I forget, and I find myself walking down a dark and unsafe street at 9:30pm at night. I always get out my mobile and call someone so that at least the world will get out quickily if I'm attacked! Mum and I have agreed that if I start yelling "dark hair, 6 foot 2, red t-shirt", then she'll call the police on the other phone :)

I'm sorry you were scared, that's horrible. But I'm glad you're safe!

xo Tammy

PS. And just so you know, I'm a little jealous you got to be in Central Park at all... :)