Big Girl Pants

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Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

It was raining lightly when I got to the Borough Hall Station. I saw the sign on the street; all I needed was to find the entrance. People walked snappily by, like they knew where to go, and I wanted to look that way too.

When I was young, New York City was my dream place to live and work, the apex of my career girl life. In the 1960s, we called grown women girls and didn’t think anything of it. You could count the career girls in my upstate New York mill town on two hands: teachers, nurses, one doctor. Was a “private secretary” a career girl? My parents wanted me to go to Mildred Elley Secretarial School in Schenectady. But like Richard Russo’s mom, who lived in a nearby town, I longed to be Elsewhere.

It took a while. After college, there were business trips to midtown on the train to and from Philly, and whole days in big convention hotels with other librarians. Post-career now, I write and teach. I want to write well, to learn how it’s done, and so I travel to writing conferences in the literary city, sophistication town, like the big girl I want to be.

Sometimes I’m still the scared Catholic schoolgirl inside, remaking herself late in life. After two times crossing the street in drizzle, I found the subway staircase from the street. A young black man held a door for me as I deliberately stepped down. I thanked him, pleased that of all the busy people, he stopped for me, because he saw me looking uncertain. My son who lives in Brooklyn said, take the 2 train uptown, it’s best, to Times Square, then the 1 right across the platform to 50th Street. On the 2, a young Hispanic woman offered me her seat. I smiled no thanks, then saw the sign: Please give seat to the elderly or disabled. Okay, fair enough. I feel slow, unsure, and frazzled by the rain, the confusion, the tangle of people in every direction. My son was right; I got off the 2 and the 1 was right across from me, waiting. It all seemed to work for me that day. It has to, my son’s girlfriend says, in a city this big you have to be civil.

At 50th, I walked upstairs and took out my foldout laminated map, walked to 6th between 53rd and 54th  and laughed as I spotted my conference hotel.

People around me paid no attention. Cars, buses, and taxis clattered by. Storefronts glittered, the rain stopped, and my heart lifted like the red one on the T-shirt I refused to buy because it’s too tourist hokey. I heart NY. I really do.

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Have you done something you were scared to try? Big or small, share it in the comments and I’ll put your name in the hat for a copy of Styx and Stone: an Ellie Stone mystery by James W. Ziskin. Ellie is a career girl in 1960s New Holland, New York, a thinly disguised version of my home town of Amsterdam, who travels to New York City.

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The winner of this month’s drawing is Cheryl. She gets a signed copy of Dorothea Benton Frank’s By Invitation Only.  Visit her terrific blog, Mind Kind Mom. Congratulations, Cheryl, and thanks for your comment last month!

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “Big Girl Pants

  1. I understand the feelings of the new and scary as you very aptly drew the picture of, but I’m more fearless now than in my younger days. I, too, wished I could be there rather than my own small town.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I guess it’s never too late to put your big girl pants on! I traveled to NYC in my VW beetle when I was 23, knowing nothing about driving in New York! Later I went to Europe by myself without a sure destination. In those days, that kind of adventure was scary but exhilarating. I was driven by pure will and a lust for adventure. I have learned in my later years to consider hazards and calculate risks, especially since I can’t trust my body as much now as I did then. Still, a year or so ago I challenged myself to go to Mexico on my own, and I did it. I again felt young, a little scared, and happy to know that “I still got it”!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very enjoyable reading, Linda! You’re such a good writer and we’re blessed to have you as both a Docent & the Memoirs Teacher @ Pearl S. Buck International.
    My fears are manifested for my daughter- it’s ok for mom to drive to NYC, Boston, shore, DC, etc. but not my young adult daughter!

    Like

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