Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Leaving New York

Good morning, New Jersey! The sky is just getting light as I ride the train to the airport. I turn and look out the window, back behind us, and see the top of the mighty Empire State Building pointing like a stinger into the clouds.

It rained last night, a lot. The sound of it kept me awake. I kept listening to that rain and imagining myself out in it in my sandaled feet, schlepping my soggy bags and trying to hail a cab. Fortunately, the real walk was dry, and the cabs were plentiful.

The Empire State Building’s stinger recedes from view. Here’s a sports stadium, and a lot of old train tracks, ship yards, and machinery. This, I suppose, is the town of Newark. The sky is still quite dim and gray. The clouds are breaking a little to the east and almost turning pink. They say it’s going to be hot in the city later today. My stop is next.

In the last few minutes, I stopped writing, departed the train, made my way across the station to the little airport train, and got aboard. In that time, the clouds opened all across the sky and now day lights through. The sun hasn’t crossed the horizon yet, but it’s close.

The little airport train crosses over brown, motionless canals. The trees grow right up to the banks, and huge pink flowers on tall stalks stand in the edge’s muck. The trees and canals give way to the sprawling tarmac, and the airplanes huddle around the terminals getting full and empty of people, soon to include me.

My experience of being in New York City is like a metaphor for the whole of my experience of life. I never quite get to do everything I wanted to do, or see everything I wanted to see, or be with all the people I wanted to be with. My best scheduled plans never quite turn out because they are interrupted by the unexpected, the wild, the impossible. And at the end I’m glad to go home, because it’s home, but feel like I need just a little more time, if I just had a little more time, I could have made it all work.

The other people on my flight - my fellow travelers, my aerial companions - queue up to board the plane. They look disaffected, some of them even appear miserable. But companions, we’re going to fly! In the sky! In a few hours, we’ll be on the other side of the continent.

If I can’t stay here, I might as well be willing to go. I pack up my phone and my water bottle and, in a moment, my notebook and pen, and take my place in the line to board the plane.