Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Bus?

When I left to start college at the mature, responsible age of 18, I decided to live off campus, in an apartment, with two roommates from high school. Dorms were so small and depressing. An apartment had so much more space and light! I moved out a month before school started, so I could set myself up and be all nice and organized.

As wise as I was in my thinking, I neglected to recognize the fact that I did not have a car. Therefore in order to get to campus, I would need to take the bus. Ergo I would need to figure out bus schedules all by myself, something that absolutely terrified me.

Why does the idea of public transport scare the bejeesus out of me? Possibly because I had a Mom-taxi most of my pre-driving life, but really there are so many things that could go wrong: What if the bus never comes? What if you miss your stop and the next one is not for a very, very long time? What if you get off at the wrong stop? What if you get on the wrong bus??

Being the mature, responsible person I was at the time, I hid my head in the sand as long as I could. School was still a month away, and there was no need to rush things. I could walk to the grocery store and back, that’s all I needed to do. I spent one whole month watching TVland’s ‘Bewitched’ and ‘I Dream of Genie,’ laying out at the pool, and walking to the grocery store when I got really bored.

By the way 3 out of 4 of those situations did happen to me:

Number one happened twice actually. The first time was when I was 14 and my friend and I had decided to take the bus to the Tucson mall, because at that time it was way cooler than Park mall. We missed the last bus home and had to wait, at night, with some very dodgy people, until our parents came to rescue us. The second time was en route to my very first retail job in college, at Ann Taylor Loft. I had to walk two miles to work, in my work clothes and shoes. I was sweaty and had an insane amount of blisters when I arrived, not particularly retail-friendly.

Number two caused me to miss a Spanish exam in my Freshman year of college. Again arrived sweaty, out of breath, and very close to hysterics.

Number four was also when I was 14, in my first year of public school, consequently my first year taking the bus to school, and nearly caused me to have a heart attack until I saw a classmate. Then it ended up being a very happy accident because we just hung out at her house, and ate junk food until my parents could come and get me.

Now that we are here in Barcelona, I am forced to face my fears once again. We have a car, but my husband uses it to drive to work every day. Even if he didn’t, it’s a manual, so I can’t drive it. Even if it was an automatic, the traffic here is insane. It stresses me out just being a passenger, so I can’t even imagine having to be behind the wheel. Public transport it is.

You are probably thinking that now that I am older, a parent, much wiser, and more mature I faced my fear head-on. Wrong! Again, most everything is within walking distance here. If it isn’t I wait until the weekend when my husband can drive us. Walking 3-6 miles a day is cool, because I don’t have to risk situations 1-4 getting me stuck, or lost somewhere I don’t know how to get back.

Yesterday, however, a friend was in town and wanted to meet up someplace that was definitely not within walking distance. It was during the work week, so I was going to have to get Esmé and I there by ourselves. The time had come to figure out this whole bus thing.

My husband took me to buy a ticket on Sunday that allows for multiple rides, and I google-mapped out the routes I needed to take. We left a little early to give us some time and we made it on the first bus all in once piece. So far, so good, I thought to myself as I followed the little blue dot on my phone to make sure I didn’t miss our stop. When the bus stopped where it showed we were supposed to get off on my phone, I gathered up Esmé and all our things and headed for the door.

Right when I got there it closed. Panic started bubbling up, and I pushed the stop button several times. A few of the people seated by the door started asking questions I couldn’t understand, because they were speaking Catalan. Instead I just looked at them like a panicked deer in the headlights, pointed to the door, and said ‘I have to get off!!’ They started to shout to the driver ‘Abre la puerta!’ but we were on one of those super long buses, so he had difficulty hearing us. More people joined in the shouting and it got much, much louder ‘ABRE LA PUERTAAAA!!’ and finally the doors opened. I thanked the people over and over again as I very shakily clambered off the bus. SO embarrassing.

I took several deep breaths, and tried to slow my thumping heart as I walked to the next bus we had to take. ‘Ok,’ I said to myself, ‘No big deal. We just have to make sure we are at the door before our stop, so we can be quick enough to get off the bus at the right stop.’ On we went to the next bus, and I made sure that we were by the door ready to get off for our next stop.

I was still not quick enough, unfortunately. I nearly got stuck in the door as the driver closed the door, and some nice older lady helped hold the door for us. I set Esmé in her stroller down on the sidewalk and turned to thank the woman, and stared in horror at a hand sticking out of the doors. Yes it was as scary as it sounds. It’s like those horrible Halloween tricks people play on you with limbs falling off.

The doors did have those cushy, rubbery layers in between them, and when the driver opened the door for her she shook her hand as if to say ‘don’t worry about it! See? It’s fine!’ but the damage was done. I now have a new ‘what-if’ to add to my list of why I don’t trust public transportation: What if you aren’t quick enough for the Barcelona buses and you lose an appendage because the doors shut on you? Or worse your child??

I arrived at my destination shaking, heart-thumping, and very, very sweaty. The journey home was, thankfully, not as eventful. But I made sure we ready to get out the doors as soon as they opened, then raced through them, before they could claim a body part of mine, or some kind, helpful stranger.

To answer the question, who’s afraid of a big bad bus?… I, my friends, most definitely, still am. As such, I’m happy to announce that today I walked everywhere :).

The Third Craziest Thing I’ve Ever Done

IMG_1354Hello friends! I realize that it has been awhile, and I have several posts overdue, but one week ago today we did something crazy. We moved to Barcelona!!!

I was going to say that it’s the craziest thing that I have ever done, but then I realized that the first craziest adventure I ever had was eloping with my husband in Las Vegas, then immediately moving cross-country to start our life together far away from family and friends.

I was then going to call it the second craziest adventure I ever had, but I thought producing and raising a small human being should probably get spot #2. Hence this is the third craziest adventure I ever signed up for. The funny thing is that I have felt the exact same way in the beginning of all three.

When we moved from Arizona to North Carolina I was miserable. I loved being wifey to my new husband, but wanted to be closer to my friends and family. I got lost a lot (this was before we had smart phones with GPS) because the roads were so different than what I was used to, so my husband received many hysterical phone calls while he was at work.

When we first had our baby I was also wondering what in the world I had gotten myself in to. Sleep deprivation + post-pregnancy hormones + painful, healing body = one very emotionally unstable new mama.

When we left North Carolina for Barcelona last Friday we faced an insane amount of obstacles that we had to navigate. I’ll have to break this up into three parts:

Friday Morning: We were still scrambling to get all three of our checked suitcases, and carry-ons packed. I had to run to Target in the middle of packing to pick up a prescription, and made it home just in time to finish cramming everything in so we could close the suitcases. We also had to make sure all the trash and perishables got thrown out before we left, so we wouldn’t have things growing when we get back. I was already sweating in my compression socks when the uber car arrived. We loaded everything in and were just out of our community before we realized we had forgotten the stroller. Back we went to fetch it, and were finally on our way!

At the Airport: The self-check-in machines were giving us an error message, so we had to wait in line for awhile to see someone to help get us our tickets. The woman initially wanted us to pay for Esmé’s pack’n’play and her bag, but we told her no, no, no… we had to pay an extra 10% fee for our “lap-child” so her stuff goes free. After holding us up for 20 minutes to make sure that she was following all the rules, and that she wasn’t missing a step that would involve charging us extra, we were finally able to head to security.

When we got there we encountered a line unlike either of us had ever seen, ever at RTP. Emile assured me we would not miss our flight as we zig-zagged repeatedly. Once through, we thought it would be nice to have a Five Guys burger as a last hurrah we could enjoy on the plane. Our plane wasn’t supposed to board for another 20 minutes, so we thought we had plenty of time. I headed down the moving walkway to wait for Emile at our gate. As I stepped off I heard them give the final boarding call. I frantically called my husband, who was not answering his phone, so after the 5th call I told them at the gate we were there, but please wait for my husband who should be here any moment. We were literally the last ones on the plane. We barely made it.

I wish I could say things just got better once we got to Philadelphia for our next leg of the journey but we then found out that the flight was, surprise, surprise, oversold, so we were unable to sit next to each other on the plane. I forced myself to remain calm until we got on the plane and asked a neighbor if they would mind swapping, before having a meltdown. I was not about to spend 7.5 hours wrestling a toddler by myself. We got lucky and Emile’s neighbor took my seat, so we were able to pass her back and forth when she got fussy. She may have slept for 2 hours collectively. Emile may have gotten 30 minutes, I got zero.

In Barcelona: I thought the lines were bad in Raleigh, but at customs, they were longer than some that I have waited in for Disneyland, and we had to carry our non-walking-toddler through all of it because the stroller wasn’t there when we got off the plane. Our bags took 30 minutes to get onto the carousel because it was so full of other people’s bags, who weren’t getting through customs fast enough, so they couldn’t come take them off. After getting our rental car we had to drive to the rental agency to get keys to our flat. Once we got our keys we had to find the building we were in, then drive around the block several times until we could find parking. Upon finally getting into our flat we discovered that it was actually filthy, which is a problem when you have a non-walking-toddler who loves crawling and eating everything. We then had to go out and buy all the cleaning supplies/ food we needed that evening because all the shops are closed on Sunday. We finally got home again and it was time for bath. Lo and behold we discovered there was no hot water! Esmé had a freezing bath that she screamed through, then mommy and daddy had freezing cold showers because we were all filthy.

Suffice to say at the end of last Saturday I was really questioning our decision to move here. This first week has really been trial by fire. Each day things get a little bit better, but it is still new, and scary, and frustrating.

I am familiar with those feelings. I felt them when I moved away from my home for the first time, and I felt them when I held a screaming newborn baby at 3am for the millionth time. I know that any sort of change, big or small, takes time to get used to, but I also know that the biggest changes in my life have brought me the greatest joys.

My husband asked me yesterday if, knowing what we know now, would we still agree to relocate. I told him it’s still too early to ask that question. For now I’m just trying to take things one day at a time. Seeing as much as we can see, and being happy with small victories like understanding that the grocery clerk asked you if you would like an extra bag, and you answer confidently ‘Si’ because you understood her! Then feeling even more confident in your Spanish when you understand that she asked if you want a big one or a small one, so you can even more confidently answer ‘Grande, por favor!’ She may look at you funny because you are so puffed up with pride, but you did it my friend. Savor the moment!