The Interview Part 2

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

My flight was at 4 am in the morning allowing me to arrive at JFK early so that I had time to make it to my interview at 2 pm. Unable to sleep the previous night, I groggily collected my luggage after waking up at 1 am and made sure I did not forget anything important like the address to the interview location and of course, my passport. My mother dropped me off at the airport three hours before boarding because we wouldn't be Pakistani if she didn't. 

    At the airport, I went into autopilot mode while going through customs and finding my gate. I was in the strange twilight zone where I knew where I was but also everything had the soft fuzzy edges of a dream. I knew I should have slept earlier but I just could not fall asleep that night because too much was happening for me to take in and my mind was on overdrive. After what seemed like an eternity and just at the cusp of falling asleep, boarding began and soon we were off. I am on one of those flyers who just cannot get comfortable enough to be able to sleep on a plane no matter what position I am in. Even with the neck pillow, I would doze off for twenty minutes and then jerk back awake feeling the soreness in my neck. 

       I don't remember much after landing until I was through airport customs and realized I needed a way to get to Grand Central Station from the airport. I did not have data so I was not able to look up the cheapest way to get to Manhattan and in fact, I should have researched this before leaving on my trip. There was only one visible option left, Yellow Cab.  I received a very chirpy cab driver whose hobby was collecting model ships as well as visiting as many as he could. I learned a lot about this on the 45-minute ride into downtown and remember little to none of it. I had to fight to keep my eyes open as the cab driver continued to talk to a person in the back seat whose face resembled that of someone between fully intoxicated and also suffering from withdrawal. I could feel one of my famous migraines ready to hit so I swallowed down a couple pills before I was fully incapacitated by its wrath. I somehow managed to stay awake for my entire ride and arrived equally groggy at the station. 

    This was my first time in New York and I was excited as much as my weak body could muster at the time. I stepped into the station and stood there in mild shock. Grand Central station was empty. There were a handful of people walking about but the silence unnerved me and sent me into a state of panic. Could it be possible that the station was closed today? My interview wasn't listed on a weekend was it, I nervously thought, as I frantically looked through my purse for my phone and the printed paper with the time and date of the interview written on it. I started a panic run towards the ticketing booth and noticed the giant board with today's timings of the trains listed on it and breathed a sigh of relief. Grand Central station would slowly come to life and I was just early. 

    I booked the first train leaving for my destination and started searching for some sustenance now that I was wide awake. Anxiety-induced hunger pangs are strong and required immediate relief before I could think of anything else. A croissant and iced coffee tasted amazingly delicious to me as the soft buttery folds melted in my mouth followed by the cool icy, sugary liquid chased down the remaining remnants. For the next ten minutes, I was in a twilight zone bliss especially since the migraine was nipped in the bud. I still held zero mental capacity to think about what I was going into in the next few hours and perhaps that was a blessing in disguise. 

    The time to board the train arrived so I made my way down to the platform with palpitations slowly beginning within my chest. Although I have ridden in trains in the past, to this day, they still remain my favourite mode of transportation. The train enables the passenger to fully enjoy the land they are traveling through and take in little details which would not be possible in a plane. For this reason, I enjoy car rides too but since I am usually the driver, the train gives me the opportunity to sit back, relax and enjoy the country as well. I found a comfortable window seat to enjoy the views and distract myself from the thoughts that were starting to build in my head. 

    And I was off. I wish I could say that I was able to doze off for a little bit so that I arrived fresh at my destination but alas, that was not the case. I was too scared to miss my stop since I did not look up exactly how many stops later mine would be. Being spontaneous is great but being prepared really does remove unneeded stress. I was not prepared for any of this. Actually, I did not feel prepared for life that year at all. The feeling that I had no idea what to do or handle the things life was throwing at me continued to weigh on me. This is how I felt watching the scenery move by through the window of the train. 

Until Next Time,

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