I arrived back in Rochester just after 9pm last night, the train being slightly delayed (not that I cared). I used an Uber cab to get home and it was extremely awkward with the cab driver, especially as I was in even less of a talkative mood than usual. There’s no sense of ‘relief’ or ‘home’ being back here and the only positive thing was being reunited with Priscilla (my roommate’s cat), but my time with Priscilla is no more than a few weeks when we all have to part ways.
After spending the best part of 26 hours in the Gatwick Airport South Terminal departure lounge, the flight itself was fine and because some of the passengers had bailed on the airline and most likely opted to get a refund, there were some empty seats, including the one between myself and the passenger next to me. This allowed me to spread out a bit and I was able to sleep for a few hours on the plane, although I don’t remember falling asleep. The airline were apologetic and made a point of announcing that the cabin crew had been called in on their day off to make the flight possible. They even served us free breakfast, which is unheard of for Norwegian Airlines. The plane was an actual Norwegian Airlines plane, rather than the unmarked Airbus they used last time that looked like it belonged in a museum or to be used only for shorter haul flights.
The plane landed at New York JFK International just after 7am, to the applause of the passengers who were just relieved that their nightmare was over. I briefly chatted to the guy that was sitting next to me, who told me that he was visiting London to see his girlfriend and that he lived in Brooklyn. I’d taken my last 2 Lorazepam in preparation for the hell I usually go through at JFK due to bad experiences, but this time it was quick and CPB agents were actually helpful and polite. I was relieved to find that my suitcase was one of the first to appear on the luggage carousel, so I didn’t even have to wait long for that either I made my way to the main area of the terminal (Terminal 4, I think), bought a drink and a packet of Skittles and freshened up in one of the women’s bathrooms and changed my top and out of my sandals and into my Converse. I made my way over to Pennsylvania Station around 8:30am, in the thick of NYC rush hour via the AirTrain and LIRR. The LIRR was so packed that I was forced to stand in the part of the carriage where you get on and off the train, squeezed in with around 15-20 other people, most of whom were as oblivious to me as I was to them.
At Pennsylvania Station, I went straight to the Amtrak ticket office and was able to buy a new train ticket to Rochester leaving later that afternoon. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a refund on the ticket from the previous day, despite the fact that it wasn’t my fault. I don’t know if it was the Lorazepam or the fact that I was too burned out, but I didn’t feel much in the way of anxiety. I ended up paying to have my luggage held at the station, so I could go off and finally explore NYC for a few hours.
I got on the wrong subway a few times, because I hadn’t figured out the difference between A, B, C, D and E trains until I’d gone up and down the same line. I promised my mum that if I did somehow feel confident enough to venture around the city. I’d go to Greenwich Village and take a picture of the house that she lived in when she was a child. I made it to Greenwich Village and stopped off at a Starbucks to have a much needed caffeine boost, before heading over to Commerce Street, where I found the house and took several pictures of it and sent it to her. I then walked over to Washington Square and was flabbergasted by how much the entire area reminded me of London in more ways than one. Although I’ve passed through NYC many times en route to other places, I’d never actually had the guts to explore. I was intimidated and overwhelmed at first just by the size of the place, the noise and the sea of people, but that soon passed and none of it phased me at all. Despite taking 3 wrong trains, I got used to the subway quite quickly and it almost felt like I’d been riding it for many years. I took as many photos as I could before having to return to the train station:
The 7 hour train journey seemed to pass quickly, even though the train took longer than scheduled. The train wasn’t overly busy and I had 2 seats to myself for the entire journey. I slept in shorts bursts, but couldn’t manage any prolonged sleep, despite the fact that the seats on Amtrak trains are extremely comfortable and spacious.
When I got back to the house, K (one of my two roommates) came and talked to me. She didn’t make me anxious or make me jump this time, but I attribute that more to tiredness than anything else. She’s moving out at the end of April. L then came and talked to me and explained the situation here with the landlord and having to move. Let’s just say that it’s not good, especially from my perspective as it’s more than likely that I’ll have no place to stay in a few weeks time. The landlord is apparently being difficult and erratic and I’m worried that I’m going to lose my security deposit and even more worried about where I’m going to be staying after the end of April.
I got around 5 hours sleep last night, but I’ve been awake and up since 3:30am. I don’t feel any jet lagged at all and because I sleep so little and so erratically, the time difference makes very little difference at all.
I got a letter from my insurance company saying that my health insurance is indeed expiring at the end of the month. I don’t know what I’m going to do. My care manager clearly doesn’t care as he’s not even responded to my email.
My ugliness compensation still hasn’t turned up. I’m losing faith that I’ll ever get anything at all, even though it was agreed on and signed off on in front of a New York State judge back in January, when the company agreed to the sum and agreed to pay it within 30 days. Without that money, I won’t have enough to support myself for long enough if I did ultimately choose to try returning to the UK to live there. I know it’s not an option and at this point, it’d only be an option if my family were willing to help me (which they’re not).
My time is running out and as scared as I am, I accept it. The trip to the UK was always meant to be little more than a temporary reprieve and a chance to see my mum, my friends and to be back in a place where I felt much safer than I do here.