Last week, I did a day of proofreading in-house at UNICEF. I took the 9:26 train from Peekskill. The day was warm for January and bright, and I stood on the platform looking west across the Hudson River to Bear Mountain. The tracks run beside the river from Albany to Manhattan, and the riverbank twists and curves so much at Peekskill that I can see my train coming down from Poughkeepsie several minutes before it gets to the station. It’s a wonderful way to start a day of work, waiting on the banks of the Hudson, watching the gulls, keeping an eye out for the eagles that nest nearby.
After a day scrutinizing text, graphs, and tables related to funding meant to help children get through natural disasters and armed conflicts around the world, I raced from UNICEF to Grand Central with the hope of catching the 5:13. (The next train didn’t leave for Peekskill for a full 20 minutes! Imagine that.) West on 44th Street to Lexington, running to make the ‘Walk’ lights at Second and Third Avenues so I wouldn’t have to stop on the sidewalk and give cars the right of way, into the darkish corridor beside the Graybar Building, flashing a glance at the Train Departures board to note that the 5:13 was at Gate 35 on the farthest corner of the station, then out of the passage into the wonderful open space of the station itself with its sky-blue ceiling high overhead marked with the constellations of the stars, its terrazzo floors, its famous clock anchoring the center of the space, and people everywhere running in all directions to make their evening trains. (You remember that scene in Broadcast News where Holly Hunter races to deliver the video? Multiply that by hundreds to get a sense of Grand Central at rush hour.)
I’ve spent much of my time in Peekskill this past year, about 40 miles north of Manhattan, since my partner bought his apartment here. But I know I’m still a New Yorker when I navigate Grand Central at rush hour . . . and love it!
As I held my iPhone over my left shoulder and snapped the picture of my evening commute for this blog, I thought of the contrast with the morning’s picture. For the first time I wondered about how much energy it must take to move back and forth between these worlds, these rhythms.
What’s involved in internally shifting from contemplating the river outside the window of my moving train to running through the crowds and obstacles of the city? And what’s involved in being able to embrace both with joy and wonder?