Tag Archives: staten island ferry

my staten island miracle

i was in a hotel in brooklyn.  wrappers and empty bottles of mini-bar extravagances on the bed and my laptop in front of me.  i was furious at mapquest.

mapquest said that it was impossible to go from 235 meeker avenue to the address on 63 westbrook to see my facebook friend michele piersiak if i used a car.  and yet, when i looked at the map, it looked fairly straightforward to me.  cab it to the manhattan ferry station, take the ferry and take another cab in staten.  somehow mapquest seemed to say with a frisson of nearly gallic contempt:  mais non!  i then asked mapquest about public transportation.

“Non, Non, Non!”  mapquest squealed.  “quel horreur!”

so i said please, mr. mapquest, what if i walked to the staten island ferry station and took the ferry and then walked from there to my friend’s house?

“Four hours seven minutes,” he replied.  “Nine miles.”

“I betcha i can do it in under three,”  i said.

i wasn’t figuring on getting lost, sidewalks closed for construction, my feet hurting, my bag heavy, and then there was the williamsburg bridge:

and after i got across the bridge it was just a matter of asking ten different new yorkers where the ferry station was.  ten different new yorkers, ten different answers.  i was starting to think that mapquest had severely misunderestimated (to use a bushism) the travel time.

however, i got to the ferry station and determined that the ferry is a pleasure never to be missed.  and it’s free!

once on the island, i walked through the downtown, through quiet neighborhoods, through little Sri Lanka, past a muslim day school, a golf course, and a river.  by the time i reached my facebook friend michele piersiak’s house, i had done my time just as mapquest had predicted.

i might have regarded this as a failing.  i had destroyed my feet.  i had been stubborn when i should have known that mr. mapquest is always right.  i should have taken a cab.

but now i don’t regard that as a misadventure.

hurricane sandy has destroyed the ferry station.  island residents have no gas, their homes and businesses are flooded, the power is out, there are buildings that will never be rebuilt.  i was privileged to get to see staten island as it was.  so i look back on a miraculous walk.

although next time maybe a more comfortable pair of shoes.


in order to succeed. . .

in order to succeed, a million things must go right.  in order to fail, only one thing has to go wrong.  i admit that on the morning of august ninth i was thinking there’s going to be that one thing today.  four friends coming together for lunch at laconda verde in new york city.  one coming in from japan.  one from brooklyn.  one from staten island.  and me?  i get lost everywhere.

i just didn’t think it could happen.

facebook friend #316 carolyn quinn woke up on that morning and had a completely different mindset!

on may 9th of this year, i met michele piersiak of staten island.  she is the 317th facebook friend i have met with since i made the new years resolution to meet all my facebook friends.  so often, we have friendships and partnerships that exist online, on the phone, on facebook or twitter or instagram–and it’s important to supplement those interactions with real time.

michele followed the progress of my resolution because she shares a characteristic with me–we are both agoraphobic.  we both have awful panic attacks and tend to look for our “safe” zone–and that zone can expand and contract.  in my case, it has expanded considerably because of my facebook project.  in michele’s case, she had been nearly housebound for more than a year because leaving the house affords too many opportunities for panic.   but she’s just too young and pretty and bright and with so much to offer . . .  it’s a darn shame to take that away from the world.

i’m a believer in tackling small goals and in doing so creating courage for tackling bigger ones.  for michele, a big goal is to become a doctor to help others with this condition.  a smaller goal was to have lunch at laconda verde.  i said if she could make it to the restaurant in manhattan,  i would fly out and take her there.  she’s been working on getting out of the house and this morning she would get on the staten island ferry.  we picked her up at the station.  she was accompanied by her boyfriend anthony.

michele did something that is really important.  she planned what she was going to bring.  as someone who now lives out of her little orange bag, i totally understand.

we got off the ferry and took a cab to the restaurant.  we were met by facebook friend #326 azusa watanabe who had flown in from japan a few days before.

the second most wonderful thing about lunch was dessert! the most wonderful thing was being with friends! after lunch azusa, carolyn and i went to have our auras photographed. michele and anthony went home to staten island. i think michele can do anything she sets her mind to!


panic at williamsburg bridge!

mapquest said it would take me four hours and forty seven minutes.  a fourteen mile walk punctuated by a five mile ferry ride to see f2fb friend #317 michele piersiak.  i sometimes do an eight mile walk around the perimeter of winnetka, so i figured it couldn’t be that bad.

oh how wrong i was.  my theory about new yorkers is that they do fifty three terrifying things and that’s before they get to work.  i didn’t expect to be scared in quite this way.

the williamsburg bridge is the seventy-fifth longest suspension bridge in the world, which makes any american immediately say “pshaw! there are seventy four others that are much tougher!”  still, i got stuck along the 1600 span that towered over the water.  i couldn’t move forward and couldn’t move back.  this happened three times.  each time, i had a vision of me being the homeless chick who lives on the williamsburg bridge, unwilling to leave or to move.  accepting handouts and generally letting personal hygiene take a backseat.  i’d be an object of pity, scorn, and perhaps curiosity.  i’d feed pigeons.  i would have several pet rats who would be attracted by my pungent body odor.  i’d lash myself to the bridge during storms.  i’d lose my cell phone!

i had to get unstuck.  i was so scared my feet had fallen asleep and if i didn’t get moving the legs would be the next to go.  i started saying thank you.  thank you to the rain.  thank you to the shoes i was wearing.  thank you to the guy who had helped when the mapquest directions were just a bit . . . off.  thank you even to mapquest.  i said thank you to my facebook friends, pausing only briefly as i realized the reason i was going across the bridge was to meet f2fb friend #317 who had introduced herself on facebook.  i thanked american airlines for getting me to new york.  i thanked whoever built the bridge (later i learned construction on the bridge began i n1896 with henry hornsbotal as the chief architect and leffert buck as his engineer)

as i approached the end of the bridge i felt an odd exhileration.  and it wasn’t just relief.  it was a sense that i was buoyed up by all the people i had thanked, even by henry and leffert although at that point i didn’t know their names.

and i got off that bridge and found the staten island ferry . . . thanks to five different new yorkers who made me think that new yorkers are the friendliest people on earth!  i thank them too!

i didn’t expect to get choked up by the staue of liberty, so i sat on the side of the ferry that does not get the view of the statue.  but as we approached, i couldn’t help myself.  statue of liberty, dollface, i’m grateful to you!

and so i was wrong.  it could be that bad.  and yet, it also could be wonderful!


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