Summer has descended upon the city, this time with a vengeance. The heat is even unbearable for a veteran of many warm summers like myself. To compound the misery the store where I work has been under renovation for the last six months. I didn’t mind so much at first when it began. The scraping up of floors and demolition didn’t faze me. However, as the remodel ramped up, it became less and less bearable.
The customers grumbled at first, but they were ok with it. They understood that in order to stay competitive, the store had to change to meet changing consumer needs. I even joked with some customers that every diva needs a good facelift every ten years. As the remodel wore on, the joke quickly grew old.
Customers’ grumbling soon grew into a more vocal discord. Some even went so far as to place the blame on the employees, there were others who were less understanding. My poor co-manager took the brunt of a nearly twenty minute tirade from one customer. Most agreed that maybe the store should have closed during the remodel, but to do so would have been illogical.
I knew that I had vacation time coming up, and that my rich uncle would be giving me a fat check back for my hard work from the previous year. A week off from work in this city wasn’t enough to heal from the verbal assault and daily abuse I’d suffered at the hands of the customers. It was time to get away. The question remained where though? I’d seen enough of Texas to the point that I was burned out. I’d seen the Alamo and the state capitol enough times already.
My thirty-fifth birthday was around the corner and I wanted to do something special this year. Enough lazing around the apartment and exploring the city for a week. I’d done enough of that for the last four years. In the past I’d blogged about my survival skills that I’d acquired living in Houston. The time had come to put those skills to the test in another city.
One place I’d been wanting to go for years was New York. Most of what I’d learned about the city had been culled from movies, TV shows, magazine articles, and books. It was time to experience the city for myself. Nothing could really prepare me for what lay ahead, but I did what I could to at least know what I was up against.
I also wanted to go back to Washington, DC, a city I hadn’t visited in over fifteen years. The last time I went, Clinton was in the White House and I was just out of high school. There were monuments and museums that had been planned or were in the building process when I left, and I wanted to see what the final product looked like. I also wanted to see the city on my own without the constraints of having to meet back with my family at an appointed time.
There was a lot of uncertainty on my part because I wasn’t sure if I could do it or not. New York is a huge city and I wasn’t sure how to tackle it. DC wasn’t so much big as it was spread out. I studied maps and guide books for months ahead of my trip, but I knew that they weren’t enough to prepare me for what lay ahead.
At first I was reluctant to announce my plans. Everyone always has opinions or tips about where I should or shouldn’t go. I didn’t want to hear that because I wanted to do this on my own. The other reason is I didn’t want people to worry about me as much as I appreciated that they cared about me. As I prepared more for my trip, my excitement was too much to contain. I let it leak out to close friends, regular customers, and then as the time grew closer, I announced my plans to my family and friends.
There were many who were excited for me surprisingly enough. Some were glad that I was going to get away. The remodel grew more intense as the months dragged on. It wasn’t enough the hammering and sawing. The contractors really poured it on with jackhammers and concrete saws without so much as a concern for those who had to work in the conditions without comfort of ear or eye protection. The closer I got to my vacation time, the closer I got to my breaking point. Finally, the time came and I was never happier to be away from Houston and everything that I’d grown comfortable with.