Strolling

Fine, I’ll admit it: I have a lot of strollers. Five, to be exact. I can justify each one but the fact remains that it’s a bit excessive. Well, a couple days ago I was meeting up with some friends for lunch. The restaurant was small and had a few steps at the entrance. In my head, I was stressing. I can’t bring my monstrosity of an Uppababy Vista. It’ll get in everyone’s way, the waiters will get angry, it’ll be a fire hazard, we’ll get kicked out, I’ll put up a fight but they’ll fight back and then someone will get stabbed with a butter knife. Ultimately, I decided against bringing Lisi to lunch, which I blamed on my lack of a smaller stroller. I was in dire need of one and it needed to be a Bugaboo Bee.

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That night I went on Craigslist and found one. I contacted the seller. Then I checked my email every five minutes. When she didn’t respond after an hour, I sent a follow-up saying that I’d be happy to pick it up the next morning and will obviously bring cash. She wrote back that it was long gone. I was crushed. I did some research and saw that it actually was a great deal. I’ll never find it at that price again. I considered returning my new KitchenAid mixer and use the credit toward a new Bee, but did I really want to spend close to $750 on another stroller? And then I stumbled upon another listing. Which is funny, you know, because it’s not like I was refreshing the page every few minutes. I asked if it was still available. Yes. Can we work on the price? A little. Can we meet in the city? Sure. Less than 24 hours later I became the proud owner of a Bugaboo Bee.

Now, I’ve never really been much of a Bugaboo person. Over five years ago, a month before Annie was born, someone posted on Facebook that there was an abandoned Bugaboo in the garbage in front of their building. It was freezing and close to midnight but Craig and I waddled over to get it (I did the waddling). It was in excellent condition, and even came with some accessories. Score. I used it for a few a weeks but realized it wasn’t very practical for my needs, so I put it up on Craigslist for $400. It was claimed within minutes. And now here I am, five years later, finding myself in the market for the exact ride-on board that I sold from the street. I posted on our local listserve and got a response. The only catch being that she wasn’t exactly in our neighborhood. No big deal. Craig came home from work a bit early, lent me his unlimited Metro-card (saving us $5.50!) and I was off.

                                             

I know the city pretty well. And by pretty well I mean exceptionally well. Except, that is, for the 60 blocks that are considered Harlem/Hamilton Heights/Morningside Heights. I’ve been there before — there are a few outlets along 125th Street — but only a couple times. When I heard Morningside Avenue I pretended to know exactly where it was. The seller gave me detailed directions but I didn’t bother checking. I got off the train and saw that the Gap outlet would be closing in eight minutes. I ran in (bought nothing; I hate outlets) and perused a bit. I typed in the seller’s address on my phone and glanced at a vague map of where I was headed. I started walking east. It had gotten darker out and there were now fewer people on the street. Stores were closing and I could hear Granny’s voice in my head saying turn your ring around. I wanted to pull out my phone to see the map but I thought someone would totally steal it. You know, because that’s what people do in Harlem.

I continued heading east; Malcom X Boulevard, 5th Avenue, Madison, Park, Lex… where am I? I slipped into a Pathmark (yeah, there’s a Pathmark there, who knew?) and looked at my phone. It turns out  I’m an idiot; I was looking at driving directions. Hey random stranger at Pathmark, where’s Morningside Avenue? Oh, it’s down that way. All the way that way. Should I take the bus? Yeah, you definitely should take the bus.  I crossed the street. The bus was approaching, as were half a dozen police cars. They stopped right in front of the Pathmark. Move over folks, get me on this bus! I took the seat right behind the driver. No one will steal my phone if I’m next to him, right? I looked at my map and followed the route.  So far, so good. I texted the seller to let her know I was running a little late. So now I’m heading back west, watching the dot on my map moving. I saw we were a block before the stop I needed so I rang the stop button (oh man, if I told the kids I got to push the button they’d be so jealous). Ding. Wait, where are we going? Saint Nicholas Ave, Amsterdam, a street I can’t remember. The bus finally stopped and I got the hell off. Where am I? Where are all the people? I started to run. And I use the term run very loosely. Did I mention I’m pregnant? (If not, let’s consider this the announcement!) I saw a silhouette of someone in the distance. It was man with a large dog. The other side of the street was deserted as well. I started “running” faster.

All of this for a ride-on board. Forget it, I’m taking an Uber home. But that would have required me to pull out my phone again. Even though there was no one on the street, I was sure someone was going to come out of nowhere and steal my phone. I kept running. Now I’m on Morningside Avenue. One side of the street was a really dark park and the other was nothing but quiet stoops and lots of construction. I walked through one of those dimly-lit makeshift sidewalks. I looked for the building number while silently praying that I was on the right side of the street. And there it was on the corner. Wait, what is this? It’s a brand new modern-looking building, like the kind you’d pass on the street and wonder what it would cost to buy there. There was a doorman. I walked in. I was finally safe. I took out my phone as I walked into the elevator and saw that there were several Ubers in the area. Now I’m really at ease.

I knocked on the door and the seller greeted me. I was getting worried, would you like some water?. Ahhhhh. Thank you! We did the exchange and it was in near perfect condition.  Score. Are you sure you know how to get back? Who cares, I’m taking a cab. You know it’s actually really safe around here, it’s not like Harlem used to be. Oh cool, I said, as I distractedly tried to get a good glimpse of her beautiful kitchen. I rode down the elevator. Damn, this place is nice. There’s a gym in this building?  A large group of people were waiting for the elevator. Perfectly happy, calm looking people coming home from a day of work. Not disheveled people who look like they’ve just run away from a large man with a dog. What’s wrong with me? I’m tough, not scared, and this is place was far from scary.

I sucked it up and decided to take the train home. Hey doorman (note: I didn’t say that), how do I get to the A train? Oh just turn right over there and walk 2 blocks. Seriously? Two blocks? Okay, Mr. Doorman. I followed the directions, walking down this beautiful block of brownstones. There were now several people out walking their dogs and watering plants. I saw the train station and glanced at my phone to check the time. Thirty minutes prior I never would’ve dreamed of pulling my phone out, yet there I was walking down the street looking at my phone like a normal person. I caught the train and headed home. I saw Craig, hugged him, peed and went to attach the board to the stroller. It didn’t fit. But hey, that’s a story for a different time!

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