Leaving New York
We emerge from NYC’s underground tunnels and link-fenced lots to the beautiful Hudson River, which rubs shoulders with the train tracks all the way from NY to Albany. The Hudson is an expanse of silvery-green calmness; huge for a river, or at least compared to any I’ve ever seen.
The slick wide ribbon is peppered with lone sailboats, paddle borders skimming along the far banks. Occasionally, ugly-beautiful 1930’s warehouses for refining sugar and treating wood appear like red brick monoliths amongst the verdant view. The thick foliage all along the opposite shore reminds me of the Thai rainforest from this distance; lush and deep green, mottled browns of the high cliffs peeking through. With white clap-board boathouses kissing the water’s edge at the end of long green lawns and not a soul insight, it’s like something from an Edward Hopper painting. Swampy lush ponds with bull-rushes and reeds hug the other side of my train carriage. I am sandwiched by moisture.
It’s hard to concentrate on anything like a book or even take a nap because I’m so excited. Baby deer stand knock-kneed back in the forest, watching the train swoosh by without fear. I absolutely don’t joke when I tell you I saw a huge buck with it’s legs ankle-deep in swamp water, a large cormorant sat happily on it’s hind.
We flit past the grand and stately West Point Military Academy sitting assuredly on the far bank. It makes me think of countless films and crime novels, giving me a retrospective GPS for the characters I’ve loved, and I feel glad to have this reference point fixed in my own geographical reality.
The train ride is unhurried, in syncopation with my heartbeat. I watch the landscape flick by, allowing the train to take over the business of worrying about destinations and a deadlines, whilst I remain an unharried passenger. It’s all out of my control, how delightful. (By the next day, I’m not feeling quite this prosaic). But truly, you are still; the world and its countless variations are all swept before you, alongside and then behind you. It’s like a never-ending movie spool that generates a babble of questions from the well-spring in my brain: ”Who lives there? What does that store sell? Will he catch a fish?..I’m sure I saw a tug on the line. What’s that weird building? Ooh who IS he? Was that an alligator?! What are they all dressed up for?” Whoosh and they’re all gone, never to be seen again. This reminds me of those little underground micro-love stories which happen on metros and subways (depending on where you’re from). Those moments when your eyes meet through perspex; different metros going different ways, but for a minute you could be lovers. For a moment you smile at each other knowingly and appreciate all the possibilities and impossibilities there could be….and then the trains pull you apart and it’s gone. A full love story in a couple of heartbeats and a glance.