Journey to Ellen’s, Part I: We’ve got a train to catch!

The clock read just past 5:00 when I woke up. Under any other circumstances I would have immediately turned over and fallen back asleep, but excitement and fear of over-sleeping prevented me from doing so, even at that ungodly hour. After all, I was going to see Ellen with friends that I hadn’t seen in months – who could possibly sleep through that? With so much time I was able to spend a leisurely morning getting ready for an exciting day ahead.

By the time I reached Ch’s house, though, I had managed to hit every single red light and get stuck behind a little old lady whose hairline could barely be seen over the top of her steering wheel and who, at ten miles below the speed limit, couldn’t decide which lane to use. My exasperation was compounded by the realization at Ch’s house that six of us had to fit into my teeny compact car. We packed like clowns – Angela, Krysta, Kristen, Ch, David and me – and headed to the train station.

We realized that we would be fighting commuter traffic to New York, so we left early, thinking that we had a chance of finding a parking space. We were wrong. All that could be seen at the train station was a sea of automobiles and a distinct lack of empty spaces. Pulling up to the station itself, we all sighed in frustration.

“You know,” said Ch, “you could park at Dr G’s house – it’s just around the corner. I’ll go with you, and everyone can get out and get tickets.”

It was agreed. We would try to be back for the 8:03 train, with an 8:21 train as a backup. I handed money to Angela to purchase a ticket for me, and once they all tumbled out of my car, we zoomed off to Dr G’s.

Dr G was one of our professors, and one of the sweetest men on the planet. We knew he wouldn’t mind us parking in front of his house. As we turned down his street, though, we saw a line of brand new signs that decorated the edges of the road: “No parking between 8:00am and 5:00pm.” Apparently, the neighborhood had complained about commuters parking on their street. How rude.

“What do we do now?” I asked Ch.

“Well,” she said hesitantly, “we could park in his driveway.”

“Can we do that?”

“He’s not home, and you’ll probably be back here before he does.”

“Let’s leave a note, just in case.”

As I maneuvered the car as far back into the driveway as possible, Ch scribbled the words on a page torn from a blank notebook and placed it upon my dashboard: “Dear Dr G: We hope you don’t mind, but we (the piano ped class of 2005) parked in your driveway. If there’s a problem, call Megan. Love, Christin, Megan, et al.”

I felt guilty for being so presumptuous as to park in my ex-professor’s driveway, but we had no other choice. After all, I would much rather face the unlikely wrath of Dr G than a parking ticket in the Princeton borough.

We walked swiftly towards the train. It was only three or four blocks, but with a train about to arrive, it felt like miles. I was suddenly very aware of the poor choice of shoes I had made that morning; in an effort to look cute, I had completely forgotten the consequences of walking long distances in high heels. One would think that I would have learned after graduation. But that’s a different story altogether.

As we rounded the corner into the edge of the train station parking lot, we heard the squeal of brakes as the 8:03 arrived two minutes early. Ch turned to me with a look of determination. “Do you feel like running?”

We ran like mad women, frantically trying to avoid potholes and late commuters looking for parking spaces. Ch phoned Angela and told her to get on the train, and that we would be on it. I hoped that she was right. The train had already begun to move as we jumped on the last car. Breathing a sigh of relief, we made our way to the front of the train to find our friends.

TOMORROW: Hurry Up and Wait

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