(Yes, I know, it’s really many more than 24 hours later, but I’m taking full poetic license.)
A second night’s sleep has retuned me to just-about-normal (thank goodness) and, though still pretty tired, I’m finally ready to talk a little more about my experience.
In a comment on yesterday’s post, my friend Sonia said it might be better to have the 24 hours run from noon the noon. That way, I could have gotten a full night’s sleep before starting out. As much as the idea of a full night’s sleep appeals, I think noon to noon would mean more people dropping out before the end of the 24 hours.
Because midnight to six is the hardest part of the day, it’s good to get it over with first. If I had gone out at noon and shot for 10, 11, 12 hours … and then been faced with the long day’s journey into night of midnight to six … well, it’s pretty unlikely that I’d have made it through. Starting with the roughest patch makes the remaining hours look easier.
I did work myself up into feeling more nervous than I’d have liked about the midnight run. Not enough to keep me from starting out, but definitely nervous. On the safety side, I didn’t see a lot I could do. I’d be fine, or I wouldn’t be. Yes, I would avoid particularly dark, empty, dangerous-seeming places, but what else is there? I don’t have weapons, don’t carry pepper spray. So really my being safe is more in the hands of other people on the street. I hate the truth of that, but isn’t that what’s always true?
As for making myself look safe to other people … similar quandary. People would either see my harmlessness or they wouldn’t. There were a few things I could do, though. I know that making eye contact and giving a tiny bit of a smile can help, so I figured it could do that. Wearing a dress could help, too. A dress can fool people into thinking you’re soft. We had a snow storm on Friday, and it was sleeting as I got ready to go out, but I decided to wear a dress all the same (with leggings and boots and under my down coat). So yes, in order to look less dangerous to some people, I made myself look more vulnerable to other, less savory people. Feh.
There were tricky moments, out on the street alone. Around 3am I was in the West Village, heading downtown, and a man approaching me changed his direction to walk with me and then to follow me when I wouldn’t talk to him. That was when I found the diner I was sitting in when I took the photo of the police officers. When I came up from the A train at Port Authority so that I could walk over to Times Square and meet my friend and his friends — it was maybe 4:45am — there was an angry, not-at-all-well man at the top of the stairs as I left the station, and I didn’t immediately notice how “off” he was and almost walked right into the middle of the scene he was making. Just as he took notice of me — the kind of notice that meant he turned and began to come at me — I realized my error and took a sharp left and crossed 42nd Street so that I could be away from him. He could have followed, but chose not to.
There were also excellent moments. I got on a bus at about 2:30 hoping to get some pics of the other riders … only to find that I was the only rider. The driver smiled and asked where I was going. “No one here,” he said. “I’ll take you wherever you’re going!” There was meeting the guys in the, “Peace, baby!” photo, who were very nice and just made me laugh.
Hmm … fading fast. There were many more moments, both tricky and lovely, but once again, I need to sleep. It’s time to put my tired self to bed so I can close the distance between myself and my rested, no longer sore self. I’m hoping tomorrow I feel entirely like myself. So I leave you with my slide show of the night. I would love to hear what you think of the pictures, of the stories, of how well or not they two fit together.
It’s the annual Slice of Life Story Challenge, hosted by the wonderful people over at Two Writing Teachers! Every day this month, hundreds of writers will be posting their stories. Head on over and check out the other slices!