I am in New York City for only an hour or so. Long enough to take the bus from JFK to Grand Central Station, to talk with a nurse who has long white hair, to be misdirected by the bus driver, to be helped by no fewer than four kind New Yorkers.
I have packed ridiculous amounts of stuff, and it's clear immediately how little I actually need, but in the last of the late night packing and heartrending goodbyes, I was cramming everything I could into my bags, like I can carry a home on my back, like I can insulate myself from the unknown with dresses and hair product and (am I insane?) hard-cover books. So I'm standing at the top of three long flights of stairs at Grand Central Station with two overstuffed bags plus backpack, slowly churning through my options for getting all of me down those stairs.
It isn't ten seconds before a man offers to help, grabs the larger bag and hoists it down the stairs for me. He offers to carry both, but that would shame me too much. I hump it on my own, lagging behind. At the bottom, he asks if I'm okay before disappearing. This is when I realize I'm in the wrong place. This is the subway, and there's no way through to where the trains are.
Once again, I pause to think at the bottom of the stairs, and instantly another Good Samaritan appears, as though I've conjured him. Again, I insist on carrying one of the bags, and at the top of the stairs I'm winded and burning. "Better than the gym," says my rescuer, before vaporizing like the first. I almost expect a puff of smoke.
Two good souls lift my bags into place on the train, and now I'm feeling oppressed by all this stuff, plotting ways to literally lighten my load before the next piece of my journey. The men on the train joke about the dead bodies I must be carrying, the gold bullion. Maybe they know more than I do, maybe there is a corpse or two in there.
I have presumed too much on others, beginning back in San Francisco, and now my debt spans the country. I lived for nearly a year out of a single duffel bag when I was in my twenties. So I'm not in my twenties anymore. So my carapace is larger. But I am young enough and healthy and my ideas of what is necessary are in flux.
This is where the adventure begins: lumbering, ungraceful, indebted. But it has begun.