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.