The New York City adventure

I WALKED OUT the front gate of Castle Air Force Base in the San Joaquin Valley of Central California a free, young man. It was the mid-1960s.

Taking a taxi the few miles into Merced, I got on a Greyhound down to the City of Angels where I boarded another bus headed to New York City, 2,451 miles away as the buzzard flies. It was a four-and-a-half-day ride.

I thought I was in love, and maybe I was. The object of my desires, my high school sweetheart, lived just outside New York City in White Plains. She was staying with her psychologist — or perhaps psychiatrist; I don’t recall — and his family, sent there from Jacksonville, Florida, by wealthy, worried parents.

Her name was Jane, a beautiful, teenaged Jewish Princess and only child.

Aside from one breakdown near Pittsburgh, Pa., in the middle of the night, and the fact that I had stupidly put all my clothes and toothbrush in my suitcase locked in the belly of the bus, the trip was uneventful.

I walked out of the Greyhound station in Manhattan and spotted a hotel across the street. I checked in, showered, brushed my teeth and combed my hair. Ah, that’s more like it. And I phoned Jane.

It was either that afternoon or the following day — it was over half a century ago — that she came into town to see me. We got naked in the hotel, just the second time in my life, and then we went out. The first had been with her too, a couple of years before.

I recall neither where we went nor what we did, but I do remember she was distant, which saddened me.

Over the next three days I found a studio apartment in Greenwich Village and got a job as a painter’s helper via an employment agency. The memories are quite vague now. I saw Jane one more time, and I walked her one evening to a subway station that would return her to Grand Central and on to White Plains.

I spent just one night in the apartment and never reported to my first day of work as a painter’s helper. Instead I returned to the Greyhound station and boarded a bus to Nashville, Tennessee, where my parents lived.

I did not say goodbye to Jane, and I never saw her again.

* * * *

(Tomorrow: The City of Angels Adventure, back to California.)

20 thoughts on “The New York City adventure

  1. And the beat goes on.

    Do you miss her now, or only the best of the memories of her? Or not even that? Looks from here like you quickly learned to pick up the pieces of your hopes and move along.

    All the best.

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    1. Ricardo: I don’t recall missing her just after that because I had not been around her for a couple of years previous to going to New York. I was quite saddened about how the encounter had gone. But she was beyond me at that point, 18 years old and dating university men. She was quite precocious.

      Oddly, about five years ago I located a woman of the same name who lived in New York City on Facebook. There was a photo, and I’m 90 percent sure it was her. I messaged her, but she did not respond. She looked worn out. Oh, well.

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  2. It’s interesting the vibes you instantly feel and understand when things are not like they were, or if the meeting no longer has the electricity that it used to have. You notice that something is different, and you know that nothing will return the prior feelings and ease of communications.

    Some people never figure that out, go for years trying ever to achieve the prior aura. Others can sense that immediately and, as Paul Simon says in his song, 50 ways to leave your lover, “Hop on the bus, Gus,” which you immediately did for the better.

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  3. But, you’re still searching; that Facebook looking to see if you can find them, where life has taken them. Sometimes I wonder what’s happened to people I once knew; so strange to have known/loved someone and not know if they’re alive or dead.

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  4. I loved the story. Sounds like something my son would do. He used to take off on a whim only to find, that “she” was not what she seemed on the computer. He has given up things that he grieved over, after the experience was over. He is now so badly disabled, he can’t follow many dreams.

    I have screwed up a few times myself!

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    1. Beverly: Sons and daughters can drive parents to distraction. I did my bit with mine, but my sister was the champ with our parents. I was just a rank amateur at driving them nuts. She was Olympic material till the days they died.

      Sorry to hear about your son. I send a cyberhug.

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  5. Never had that exact experience, but twice I have moved into a furnished apartment only to leave the city the next morning. I have never run out on a date, but there are a few where I stood up the other party. Numerous times I have been in conversations with people, then excused myself and left. I believe in premonition, and when I have it, adiós.

    When one gets older and has more time to ruminate on life it seems normal to me to wonder; “whatever happened to …?” and in these days a Facebook search often tells you.

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    1. Kris: Eight or so years ago, an Argentine woman with whom I cohabited in San Juan in the mid-1970s found me on Facebook. We communicated for a spell. I read somewhere years ago that some huge percentage — I forget exactly what — of people worldwide have a Facebook page. It’s an interesting tool. Now if only it would keep its hands off politics.

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  6. How bittersweet. I had a similar Greyhound experience out to Billings, Montana, to meet a girl I thought I was in love with. I think I just wanted sex, and I didn’t get it. I returned by Greyhound a couple of days later, feeling a little bit blue. Those teen years can be confusing. I wouldn’t want to go back to that age, especially in today’s mixed-up world.

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  7. This is one of the best pieces you have written. Like your memory, it’s writing that I’d like to neatly fold and put in a drawer. Take it out and read it again every now and then.

    Good stuff my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Not all encounters are meant to last. Sometimes our hearts and other organs restrict the flow of blood to our brains, but eventually we catch on. Sometimes though, it’s a bit painful.

    Live, love, learn. Thankfully for me, I hit it right the first time. (I did some time in the minor leagues before I signed the contract though.)

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