Come with Senior Staff Writer Sarah Perry on her twice-weekly trip to campus!
With changes to the housing plan keeping so many students from returning to campus last semester, many chose to find an apartment off-campus instead to stay in New York. I was one of those people, and instead of living somewhere a reasonable 10-minute walk away, I decided: why not live somewhere 45 minutes away from campus? Needless to say, I didn’t think the commute through. At the same time, I don’t mind it at all—I get to see a million interesting things each trip!
Most of the time that I get to campus during the week, I leave in between classes and take a class or two in Milstein. Today is the same case—as soon as I’m out of my first class for the day, I gather my things: backpack, laptop, laptop charger, headphones, keys, mask, Barnard ID, bank card. Once I’m ready, I head out and up a couple of streets. Between my apartment and the bus stop, I pass some construction on my corner that blocks off the normal sidewalk, so I have to go around in this awkward circle. After that ordeal, I walk straight up a few blocks. On the way, there’s a boba shop, the post office, a barber, several pizza places, and a florist, among other interesting sights.
I pride myself on being on time, but the bus rarely does. I see one pulling away from the stop just as I’m a block away and resign myself to my fate. While I wait, I put on The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, because it’s exactly as long as my commute takes. The bus is supposed to come every 6 or 7 minutes, but it takes 10 for the next one to come (does it say much that it’s bus number 666?) and I hop on. There are always so many elderly people on the bus. I don’t know where they come from. It’s always them, or babies, or both.
There are a bunch of interesting buildings on the way across town—one that has sculptural branches climbing up and making an arch around the doorway, another that has an abstract statue of a woman on a horse outside of it. I always wonder if it’s just a woman or if it’s one woman in particular. I think, maybe, it’s Joan of Arc, but I haven’t ever gotten out to take a closer look. There’s also a very high-end fashion store that changes their window displays every week, and I pick the outfit that I like the best and wonder how much it costs.
I sit close to the door and watch it each stop on the way across Manhattan. For some reason, the door on these buses says to touch the yellow strip (what does it do?) to open it, even though it opens automatically. So many people touch the yellow strip so gingerly and then step out, never knowing that they don’t have to. A lot of people also run late for getting on the bus and will do a funny half-run to get in and blatantly not pay. I would totally never, ever do such a thing, but the bus drivers never really care. It’s like this for just about every stop on the way, and after passing through Central Park I step out on Broadway to catch the 1.
There’s an old church, right outside the bus stop, that says SUFFER LITTLE CHILDREN, COME UNTO ME and I always find it horrifying. I try to appreciate the little things, but I can’t bring myself to appreciate that. I hurry down into the subway station to get away from that really creepy inscription.
The subway isn’t too crowded, but I don’t want to sit directly next to someone, so I just stand. I’ve given up on trying to look cool by not holding onto the rail because I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of all these people who have probably lived in New York their whole lives. I do, however, walk over to the door before the train fully stops at 116th.
I walk up the stairs and over to the Barnard gates—always torture when it was colder but much more pleasant now that the weather is warming up—and fumble in my pocket to find my Barnard ID. Each time that I come to campus it blooms a bit more. I didn’t get to see springtime in New York last year, so it’s always lovely to see how the leaves have grown a bit more in the few days since I was last there.
BUS via Wikimedia Commons