Given the holiday spirit in the air, I wrote this column with the idea of the film, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles in my head.
Little did I know that my reminiscing about a long night home was to become a reality last night, when a two hour bus ride from Allentown, PA to NYC turned into a three and a half ride. I love you too, Lincoln Tunnel. The kicker was when the bus drove through Hoboken to get to the Lincoln Tunnel. Unfortunately, there was no tape to press or button to push to let me off—only my boyfriend’s hand to squeeze. Luckily, his fingers are still intact.
But, all in all, it was just a small price to pay for a lovely festive Christmas weekend, split between NJ and PA.
As the novelist Thomas Wolfe put it, you can’t go home again.
While this phrase has been used to refer to the idea that when feeling lost, we seek to reach for our pasts that are never quite within our grasp, for this column’s sake, I’m going to speak about this nugget of wisdom on a literal level.
Sometimes, when it’s late at night, and you need to cross over a certain Hudson River to get home to Hoboken, it feels like you just can’t quite seem to get there.
I get this question asked quite frequently when I’m conversing with someone who learns of my status as a Hoboken resident: How long did it take you to get to x, y, or z? (Urbanites are seemingly obsessed with making good time).
For the most part, Hoboken is quite a convenient launch pad. Door to door, my commute to work is about 45 to 50 minutes. Door to door, to a location on the Upper East Side, it’s about an hour. Anything further west is less.
I also always answer this question as though I have the ultimate train karma. I’ll say, “Oh, the PATH was already at the station, it was awesome.”
But, what I don’t always let on about is that sometimes, this is not always the case. As a matter of fact, going home can become quite the adventure.
For example, when I used to take the bus to Port Authority as my gateway to the island, I learned the hard way that buses stop running at 2 AM, and do not resume until about after 6 AM. I can tell you—waiting on a line in the basement of the Port Authority in the wee hours for a bus that is not going to start its engine for a solid four hours is not the way to get home.
I’ll take another example: last week, one of my roommates got stranded in Jersey City. Not sure how to walk back to Hoboken (not a terribly wise idea), she hailed the first cab she could find. Not only did the cab driver charge her $20 for a five minute ride to Hoboken, but he charged her an additional $20 to drive her to an ATM first, since she had no cash. With tip, she paid almost $50 to go less than two miles. In Manhattan, hailing a cab to Hoboken will cost you about $60.
Since our town has even been referred to as the sixth borough of New York, the fact that it can be so difficult to get home at night is disheartening, especially when you feel as if all forms of mass transportation look to take advantage of the fact that we have to cross state lines. Though the subway lines aren’t always the best way to get home late at night for New Yorkers, for the most part they are reliable. For Hobokenites, when we don’t feel like spending more money on a cab, when the buses stop and the PATH is taking more than 40 minutes to pull into the station, it’s gets tiresome.
If only I could fly over the Hudson.