Wednesday, September 17, 2014
This California Girl is Going (back) to California
Well, it turns out that after all this time and expense and effort, I'll be on my way back to California soon.
I ran the numbers this morning after a few days of indecision, and I just can't afford to stay here on the East Coast looking for work. So, I'll go back home and try again there. I know I hit my head against that particular brick wall for far too long, and it isn't going to be easy to find anything there now, either. But I will at least be on familiar territory.
See, that's the thing. I've been having trouble navigating here. I don't know which way is up - well, which way is North and so forth, and I just don't feel comfortable when I don't know which direction is which. I also often can't get where I want to go because I don't know the area and don't know which buses go where and when.
That aspect of it wasn't too much of a problem in DC itself, actually, but I've been out here in Maryland, about halfway between DC and Baltimore for nearly a week now, and it's just hard to get around. I ran around in circles for about three hours this afternoon trying to figure out how to pay for my train ticket back to California once I made the reservation on the phone. There is no Amtrak station with a ticket agent in the town I'm in right now (Laurel, Maryland). The nearest one is about 10 miles away. I couldn't figure out how to get there on the bus, and it was going to take about two hours each way, anyway, and I really wasn't up for that. And I didn't have a credit or debit card to pay over the phone - if I'd had that, I could have just made the reservation and paid online. That would have been much easier than talking to a computer to make the reservation. And I certainly wasn't going to pay for a taxi to take me those 10 miles and back. I wouldn't have, even if I could have afforded it, which I can't.
Jeez - either someone is sawing something next door, or they're having sex on a bed with a very squeaky mattress. It's only 7:12 p.m. - it's too late for sawing and a little too early to be having that loud of sex.
Sorry or that interruption. To get back to the story - I finally decided that I needed to get a pre-paid debit card so that I could pay for the reservation. See, they would only hold it until tomorrow, but I don't check out of the motel I'm staying at to go back to DC until Friday morning. That was not going to work. One of the motel employees told me where she thought I could buy a pre-paid card within walking distance. I walked down there. No joy. So, walking back up toward the motel, I stopped at a convenience store to ask if they knew where I could get one. And the clerk did know. He told me that they sold them at Family Dollar, and then he said, "and they sell them at 7-11, too. There was another man in there, clearly someone the clerk knew, and he said, "What are you sending her clear up to 7-11 for. That's too far." (It really wasn't too far, but it was farther than Family Dollar, and uphill.) It was kind of cute, and they were very helpful.
This is one of the things I've learned while I've been out here, by the way; most people are more than happy to be helpful if they can be.
So, I walked to Family Dollar, bought the card, came back to the motel and activated it, then called and paid for the train ticket. So, the trip back to California is a done deal, and I'm glad of that. The odd thing is that I haven't been aware of being homesick since I've been here, but now that the decision is made and the ticket is bought, I'm very glad to be going home. Even though there is actually no home to go to out there. It's still home.
But, that whole process took about three hours, from making the reservation to getting the ticket paid for, most of it out in a warm-to-hot sunny day. I've got a lot more stamina than I did when I arrived here, nearly a month ago, but I was tired and hot by the time I got to the motel. Not least, I realized at nearly five p.m., because I hadn't eaten anything all day. This is a problem when I have a problem to solve or a task to accomplish. I start concentrating on that and I completely forget to eat.
So, I had to go out again, walk back over to the Subway sandwich shop, and get dinner. I could have had a peanut butter sandwich, but I decided that just wasn't going to cut it. I've grown fond of that Subway shop since I've been here, although I haven't eaten there every night. They make good sandwiches and the people who work there are friendly. At any rate, now I'm fed, and not so anxious, and have the rest of the evening to relax.
There's be pre-travel things to do tomorrow - primarily doing up the dirty laundry I've accumulated since I've been here and packing to leave the motel on Friday morning, but also trying to figure out if there's anything I can leave behind so that my luggage won't be quite so heavy. I doubt there will be, but I'll unpack everything and repack, and in the process I might find something that isn't essential. That would be a helpful thing, since I've got to drag all that stuff back to DC and onto the train. Thank goodness for checked baggage. However, since I'll be in the train station Friday night, I will have to lug everything around with me all day Friday and part of the day Saturday, until time to actually check the bags.
I'm really not looking forward to the night in the station - another one. It isn't a pleasant place to begin with, and it's positively dismal at night. At least I should have my ticket in hand, so I shouldn't have to try t find places to be all night and can grab a chair in the ticketed passengers section and get a little sleep. The train, though, doesn't leave DC until just past 4 p.m. on Saturday, so that's going to be a long time in the station. If there were a place I could park my bags, I could go sightseeing Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, but that costs too much to even think about. But, I've got knitting, and I can spend some time in McDonald's using the Wi-Fi - I'm going to be in withdrawal across the country, on a train with no Wi-Fi access. Still, I can listen t music and watch DVDs and write - they do have electrical outlets at each seat.
I'm trying not to worry about what happens when I get back to L.A. just yet. There isn't anything I can do about it now. I've already been looking at job listings out there, and trying to see what the possibilities are for a safe place to sleep when I first arrive. But tonight? I think tonight I'm going to take advantage of the motel Wi-Fi, listen to some music, maybe do some writing, and just think that by this time next week I'll be back on the Left Coast...which is the right coast or me.
I just hope it doesn't welcome me home with an earthquake, like it did when I arrived there in March.
Quakes or not, though, I'm a California Girl, through and through.