Some people like to fly from New York to Boston. Others enjoy the luxury of an Amtrak train. There are others who even prefer to get into a car and drive all the way. Then there are people like me.
I haven’t driven a car since somewhere back in the 1970’s, and, anyway, I don’t have one. That discourages automobile travel, especially since I don’t know anyone with a car who is eager to take a four-hour drive through parts of three states to give me a lift. As for air travel: I am not going to pay all that money, schlep out to the airport and go through security just to take a short hop to a fairly nearby city. New York to Toronto = take a plane. New York to Boston = not worth it.
The train is a fine way to travel, if you like comfort and nice beach scenery. Unfortunately, though, you have to pay for all that luxury. Some of us can afford it some of the time, but not all of the time.
There is an alternative for cash-strapped and/or cheap … er, frugal travelers like me: the Chinatown buses. Yes, you read that correctly. The Lucky Star Bus line only charges $15 for a one-way ticket between New York and Boston ($30 round-trip). The real clincher, though, is that, unlike other bus lines, the Lucky Star Bus does not stop at half the towns along the way. It only makes one 15-minute stop, at either an Arby’s or a Burger King, so that people can get out, stretch, breathe some kind of air, use a better restroom than the disgusting one on the bus and maybe get some fast food.
To read what other people think of the Lucky Star Bus, go here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/lucky-star-bus-new-york .
This is their website: http://www.luckystarbus.com/ .
Okay. That was enough backstory. I will now get to the point. The day was Sunday, October 17. I had finished my church singing job for the week and it was time to head for Boston with my friend Ms. Moxie, herself a Boston resident, who had been staying with me for a week so that she could take a voice lesson with our mutual teacher, who lives in Manhattan, and join me for a coaching with a pianist who also lives in Manhattan. In case you are wondering, this kind of thing is not unusual. New York City literally sucks in performers, directors, voice teachers and coaches from all parts of the United States and the rest of the world, and there are singers who gladly commute from other cities to study and/or audition here.
Ms. Moxie and I had been invited to sing a joint recital in the Church of St. John the Evangelist on Beacon Hill in Boston, on Wednesday evening, October 20. We were heading to Boston a couple of days early in order to be able to rehearse with our pianist.
Ms. Moxie had warned me to pack light. I had done my best to take her advice, and had done pretty well, considering. I have a real gift for packing just about everything in existence into a small suitcase. This is a skill I developed over years of traipsing over the world as an opera singer. I don’t know what a light suitcase feels like. Even if it is the smallest bag in existence, I can stuff it so full that it feels like it contains bricks. Anyway, I had resisted the temptation to cram every inner nook of my small luggage-on-a-stick suitcase, so it was a lot less heavy than normal. Even so, Ms. Moxie, who knew that she would end up having to lug the thing up and down stairs for me, let me know that I had come close to failing the light packing test.
I was also carrying a tote bag containing my music, a New Yorker magazine, my creative writing class homework and a couple of odds and ends.
We had to take the subway to Chinatown in order to get on the Lucky Star bus. Traveling the New York subways on a Sunday can be an adventure when, as was the case, an entire line (namely, the one that comes through my neighborhood) is not running. Ms. Moxie and I and all our gear had to take a shuttle bus, then two subway lines to get to where we were going. Ms. Moxie graciously took charge of my luggage-on-a-stick whenever we had to go up or downstairs. It took us about an hour and a half, but we got to the bus station. We bought our tickets, then headed into a local Popeyes so that Ms. Moxie could get some lunch. I wasn’t hungry, but I kept her company.
Lucky Star runs buses every hour on the hour. Sometimes they also run extra buses on the half-hour. Our plan was to get back to the bus station in time to get to the head of the line for the 4:00 bus, so we could get a front seat. This way, when the bus made its stop at Arby’s or Burger King we could be the first ones out and not have to stand in line for the restroom. Things like that take on epic importance when you are traveling by bus.
When we approached, though, we saw that they were already loading passengers on a bus. We thought it was the 4:00 bus, so we got on. It turned out, though, that it was one of those extra buses that leave on the half-hour, and it was almost full. Ms. Moxie ended up sitting in the third row next to the window and I ended up in the second row, in a seat that turned out to be broken. It was set permanently in a back position and I couldn’t make it go upright. That was okay, since I was tired and eager to lean back and relax and doze off, but I could see why the man sitting behind me (next to Ms. Moxie) didn’t want to vacate his seat so we could sit together.
The actual trip was uneventful. Since I couldn’t really sit upright, I just kind of lay back and dozed off. We stopped at Arby’s. I bought a decent cherry turnover and some bad coffee. The woman sitting next to me switched places with Ms. Moxie, so we were able to ride together the rest of the way to Boston.
We disembarked at South Station in Boston, where we had to take the “T” to Ms. Moxie’s place. With her help and guidance, I got myself and my suitcase up, over and around escalators, stairs and elevators.
It was good to get to her place and finally be able to settle down. It had been a long day for both of us.
 I had breast cancer surgery seven and one-half years ago, including the removal of six lymph nodes on my right side. I am not supposed to carry heavy loads with my right arm anymore. That is a disadvantage. The advantage of missing six lymph nodes on my right side, along with the tumor, is that I am still alive and cancer-free after seven and one-half years.