It’s 9.30 am. The bulk of the commuters have been and gone leaving me and the off peeker’s to a train where seats are a’plenty.
I realise I’ve forgotten my phone charger and I know I need later in the day, so, to save juice, I pull out my book. I always carry a book, and I hope that I’ll give it first refusal when I decide what will fill my spare moments. Usually, the phone wins out, but today ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King took first place.
I pulled out my bookmark in the last section; his postscript, where he describes his near-fatal car accident in 2000. It’s a memoir of him being run over, describing the event, his injuries and then, his steps to recovery. I was enthralled, but, to me, he didn’t express his pain and suffering as intensely as I thought he might. Usually, he writes vividly about his experiences and yet, this felt unreachable and, in part, masked by comedy. It made me consider how difficult it is for us to relive times when our experiences test our resolve.
Despite feeling distinctly different to the rest of the book, it was still Stephen King and, his short, sharp eloquence shone through.
The hour passes quickly and we pull into the station. The familiarity of my pre-baby work commute floods my senses. The doors open and we’re reminded to collect our belongings. The American accent still surprises me; I’m always expecting a Cockney to tell me to ‘mind the gap.’
I step onto the dingy, concrete platform, hidden in the depths of the building from tourist sight. My usual sense of direction stops me in my tracks as I struggle to find my way into the main station. Despite my faulty compass, I feel like a local privy to the ‘working’ New York City, not just the visitor facade.
I reach the doorway to the vast station with its soft lights and its seasonal outfit. People rush past me for trains, shopping, or to reach their final destinations. The daylight is fighting its way through the metal ordained windows frames. The ceiling is higher and the space bigger and grander than I remember, but it’s familiar all the same. The American flag states its prominence in the centre of the main entrance wall, and the destination boards flicker with places people need to be. Police patrol the building making us feel safe, but reminding us that we need them to feel it.
I pull out my phone to capture the beauty my eyes are sharing with me at this moment, but my pictures don’t do it justice. I venture out on to the street and remember to look up and behind me to see the Chrysler Building, towering over the station sat a few blocks behind. I continue my journey passing now familiar landmarks fighting for my attention from all angles, yellow cabs buzzing between them like Black Friday shoppers in the isles of Walmart. No mercy.
As my time to return home approaches, I make my way back to the station feeling lucky to call New York my local city, and then I wonder, like I often do, how I made it here to the place where dreams are made.