Wednesday, February 9, 2011

a night to remember

And I thought it was going to be a regular Tuesday..kind of busy, but you know, average.
I went with one daughter to a doctor appointment, and another daughter that is taking part in a program in our city called Mural Arts, was going to need to get herself there on a bus this time.

*note- here is the project she is working on, called How Philly Moves. She is painting part of the little ballerina in the white tutu--so when you are driving by the airport on 95, you can think of Rachael. :) okay, little mom brag, done.

So, knowing that Rachael is not quite a veteran bus rider yet, as I got home from the doc appointment, I texted her to check in and see that she arrived safely at her destination.

It went like this-

me-you get there okay?

her-no, I'm late

me-didn't you call ahead and tell them you would be a little late today?

~mind you, while we are having this conversation (me from the computer-I don't own a cell phone), I am slinging food about, as I have to teach CCD and have to get dinner on the table and then bolt~

As I await the next reply, I go back and toss some more chicken in the pan, stir the rice, and the phone rings. It's Rachael.

her-Mom, I'm lost!

me-what!? where are you?

her- I don't know!

me- look at a street sign!

her-Hunting Park Avenue.

me-WHAT?!!! (her original destination is two blocks north of Community College of Philadelphia) Hunting Park and what?

her-(after ascertaining what I was talking about) 18th.

me-(frantically looking at the Septa schedule and map of the area) --go *here* (I'll now leave out all the particulars)--

her--which way?

and so on--for at least 30-45 minutes-until we finally got her on a bus home. And even then I called every couple minutes to see that she was okay, and progressing in the right direction. Don't forget that dinner was busily cooking away--cause I did. forget, that is.

Now I know most of you are not from Philadelphia--and the significance of the areas I mentioned don't really register, so let me fill in a bit.

Philadelphia, like it, love it, dislike it, or any feeling on the scale, is a CITY. It is not a place you can skip down the street unaware of your surroundings, even in the "nicer" areas. Her original destination is in the fringes of a bit of a scary neighborhood, I usually drive her there,and she returns on a bus, but only walks to the corner. Going north from there, it just gets worse and worse, until by the end of that bus route,(which is where she went) it is really a Godforsaken, burned out, drug infested wasteland. One in which I used to have to go through on occasion. ( in a car, windows up, doors locked, cruising through the stop signs and not making  eye contact with any of the locals).

this is the exact corner she was standing on while talking to me-

View Larger Map
and here is where she was walking around--

View Larger Map

Despite the sunny day in the picture, this is not a nice place--especially for a young girl-- let's say of a certain shade--to be walking around alone. 

I was BESIDE myself. I was so close to becoming hysterical, but I knew we needed to get her back on a bus ASAP,and that was our only remedy. Even if I tried to go and get her by car, it would have meant her standing there for some too-long time, as it was REALLY far from us, and rush hour to boot. The images in my mind of something terrible happening to her as I listened on the phone, helpless, were very, very close to overwhelming. I used to live in Germantown, and this was not far from there, and is a place that is declining and I was vividly aware of the danger.

Finally, when she was on the bus home (and I could hear in the background that even there, it wasn't any too pleasant) I called her several times until she was in familiar territory) and went into the bathroom and boo hooed for five minutes--just to let it out. By the time she came through the door and plopped on the couch, we were eating dinner (somehow, it survived)--she didn't speak for a couple hours. I had to run out and teach CCD, which was a mini circus all its own, and by the time I returned, she was better.

I felt like such a terrible mom about that. My daughter walking around the meanest streets in the city, terrified, lost. I thought that she agreed too,but she told me otherwise. Thank God, but I still feel badly. An evening of terror was not really on my radar, and took the wind out of my sails. I didn't make it to mass this morning, it is like having run a mile or something.

Today, she has this class again. I will be driving her.



  1. Well thank God it worked out. You handled it as best you could. Actually, very quick thinking on your part. My impulse would have been to jump into the car and race over. So don't be too hard on yourself. How old is Rachael?

  2. thanks, Manny, She is 17. But just hasn't had a lot of experience getting around on public trans., unless it's one of her familiar trips. She doesn't drive yet, either, which, I've found, slows down the development of figuring out directions.
    Believe me, it WAS my impulse, but I knew it wasn't going to work. The bus ride home took over an hour!
    Thankfully, we have all recovered. :)