Ah, Welcome to the Real World – Part III

Bus stop on Whitney Avenue between School Street and Dixwell Avenue – City Hall in the background
Bus stop on Whitney Avenue between School Street and Dixwell Avenue – City Hall in the background

Part 1: No Big Deal

Part 2: Ah, Welcome to the Real World – Part I

Part 3: Ah, Welcome to the Real World – Part II

And now the conclusion…

Frustrated I was, but giving up isn’t my thing. I picked Whitney & School as the target for my second attempt to grab one of those motorized fugitives. I had fifteen more minutes of walking in front of me when I left home at 2:15 p.m.

Well, where exactly was that bus stop – to the left of School Street or to the right? Aha, that looks like an actual bus stop over there. That one was an easy pick. I felt that I was on track now.

But I was kept waiting. The minutes passed without a single bus approaching. No, that’s not correct. There were busses, but they were coming from New Haven. I counted two in the 30 or 40 minutes I spent waiting at the doorsteps of Hamden’s city hall.

An old “friend” lingered a couple feet to my right. The buzzing traffic vein Dixwell Avenue looked peaceful from here because the continuous flow of cars was regularly put to a two-minute sleep by the traffic lights.

The bus that stormed down Dixwell Avenue and turned right onto Whitney Avenue – turning its back one me – seemed to laugh me out of court. I could almost see its tongue sticking out toward me.

I was baffled. Where did that come from? I thought the bus goes just all the way on Whitney Avenue? Well, maybe my information was wrong. I waited some more, but decided to change plans eventually.

Hello there, Dixwell Avenue. Long time no see. I’m far from being opposed to utilizing my feet to get from A to B. But with just a few hours under my belt, Hamden was already testing me.

I was walking on the sidewalk on the left side of the street – the only one there was. I stopped my pursuit for a bus stop whenever I had passed a road sign, and turned around to see what was on it. No bus stop sign anywhere on the street.

Little did I know that my hunch to follow this street all the way back to the supermarket was doomed from the beginning. The bus used only a small portion of the street, but that would be another story.

I reached the bus stop at Whitney and Skiff eventually. What other options did I have? The waiting entered another round. I was anxious. I was already way behind my schedule. Guess I won’t be sleeping in a comfy bed this night.

If it weren’t for the sweat-pants-wearing fellow to my right, I would have loved to shout out to the world one seven-letter word: f-i-n-a-l-l-y! But I behaved and restrained the joyful jump to my mind.

I got off the bus thirty minutes later, the familiar façade of New Haven’s Union Station in sight.

The seaside breeze hit me hard when I made the left onto Church Street. High above the ground, I crossed the railroad tracks underneath.

Entering the furniture store about fifteen minutes later, I felt right at home.

Having had the opportunity to approach unknown people just earlier in the day, it felt easier to walk up to the yellow-shirted man standing at the computer terminal in the middle of the sofa area.

Me: “Excuse me. I’d like to order some items with your pick and deliver option.”

Coworker: “Sure. I was about to get out of here, but let me see.”

I did notice the annoyed look he gave me, but he seemed to have arranged himself with the extra work once he had logged back into the system.

Me: “Thank you, here’s the list of items I need.”

I handed the A4-sized sheet over.

Coworker: “That’s weird. Is that the bed you wanted? I get some weird listing for it, like four different parts. That doesn’t look right.”

Me: “Yes, the name is correct and the picture looks about right.”

Coworker: “Let me punch in all the other items first.”

The minutes passed as he worked the keyboard.

Coworker: “Well, that’s all. Let us check again if I got everything right.”

We went over the listing shown on the screen; all was there except the bed.

Coworker: “I’m at a loss regarding the bed. But then, I’m not from the bed department. You know what we do, I’ll leave it out, give you the order as it is right now, and you go over to the bed department, where they will be able to finalize everything for you.”

He handed over three different sheets of paper, and said goodbye.

About twenty minutes later, the final problem was sorted, and I had completed the main task for the day: buying furniture.

I satisfied my stomach through a quick stop at the cafeteria, got a few smaller items from the store, and decided to take a cab home – too exhausted to try my luck with the bus once again. I knew how to get on the bus, but still had no clue where exactly I had to get off in Hamden. Since it was dark already and I had two huge bags with me, I postponed this final battle with the bus system to the next day.

I arrived back home at 8:15 p.m. – six hours after I had started this trip. But I couldn’t quite call it a day.

Another thirty-minute walk to the supermarket was necessary to get some food and – most importantly – water. So I hit once again the sidewalk of Dixwell Avenue. I returned at 11:20 p.m.

When I had the provisional bed for the night set up, I glanced around. Whoa, this place looked empty and lonely. I was on my own – finally. After all the fighting to get to this point in my life, I had finally arrived. Yet, I was surprised by the suddenness and the fact that I missed home more than I would have ever expected. Although I had seen it coming for months, I only began to realize what it meant for my life.

I was free, and that made me jump for joy. But I was just in the middle of a huge turn-around of my life. Was I doing the right thing? I mean I was even struggling with using a thing as simple as a bus. I was constantly nervous, unsure about how to complete the next step. And I was on my own, completely alone. How would I be able to cope with what was yet to come?

I wish I would have know that going abroad meant turning my life upside down.

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