Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Fairytale of Hoboken Part 2: Please Stow All Carry On Luggage

One of the stranger parts about staying at somebody's house when you're not fucking them is that you have to wear clothes everywhere, but especially, you know, to bed. But when you're reeling on the edge of dead, after a whole wormhole day of drinking and not leaving the same 3 rooms while people you don't know revolve around the hours and at one point you may or may not have actually fallen asleep sometime during the Festive Rose Gator Bowl, well THEN then my friend, there's no better feeling than to run your hands through your hair to muss it up, put on some flannel pajama pants, and open the window by your head on the pillow so you can hear the man outside on the street yelling and the buses running by and the cars idling late at night. There's nothing that can put you asleep faster than the sirens in the background and that particular kind of exhaustion caused by doing nothing at all for a really long time.

In the morning, I woke up and lay there, the bed covers folded around me sealed tight. As I lay there, cured but not forgiven, there was the exhaust roar of a box truck outside on the street, and the sound filled my head. It drove away, and I could feel the pull in my chest as my breath went with it, down the street, towards the docks. So that's where we went. The air outside was heavy with wet, and only blocks away the Hudson was so large and so quiet, so full of ocean-ness. All around us were productive people, people running, people in windows running on treadmills, people running with dogs, people running sidestepping their way through the melted piles of ice and snow. We did not run. We meandered. We inspected broken pilings and the weird fog that enveloped Manhattan in front of us, as if the city was on another plane of existence we could only glimpse through the break in the light. In a whole another world, untouchable.

We walked along the river coast, and slowly the snow fog burned off and the skies brightened. Or maybe just I woke up, a little, piece by piece, park by park. It was still gray, and the island was so very far away. But the threat of snow sharks prowling in the fog seemed to lessen. a little.

We crawled over bricks and cobblestones and arches. In our heads, as we walked, we saw the black and sepia pictures in this History of Hoboken book that Rocco had pulled from the bookshelf for me the first day. Here, is this maybe the American Hotel? Here, this used to be the twinkie factory. Here, that's the oldest church in this town, this minuscule neighborhood of what? One square mile? And everything here is in miniature, like a dollhouse covered in work uniform cotton. You know how much I love miniatures right? How when I was a little girl, my favorite thing in the Field Museum was this fairytale castle a silent movie star had built, made of marble and jewels, with a glass slipper laying the steps and real fur bedcovers on the tiny gilt four posters. Everything is so much cleaner and brighter when miniature.

Yeah, no, yes please, come back Woodie Guthrie! So next we went to the train station, which loomed like a dirty port to the Emerald City.

Lackawanna. LikeIWanna. LackofWanna. Lackawanna, I wanna tear you apart, green girder from worn slate to the granite bowels of your tunnels. I wanna lick your copper insides. I wanna touch the network of wires inside your lights, and run my fingers on the channels of your stone facades.

But still so much in use. Not abandoned or unloved at all, but full of shine and busy people and workers in bright transportation colors or authoritative blue. Someday I will just get on trains and go everywhere. They sit there in the docks, on the wet rails, and I feel it in me not the need to go anywhere else but to just be on the rocking seat surrounded by the noise. Seriously, what's better than mass transportation and the boats and the planes and the trains and the buses and the taxis? All offering constant movement, all sitting still just for the moment. And when you're holding me, Train, "we make a pair of parentheses", commas for stations, stations for periods. Also, can't you just tell that somewhere in this station, there is a pair of friends, a pidgeon and a mouse, who share their crumbs and make friends with seagulls and play games on the tiles. That's totally a thing that happens here. The mouse makes wine out of abandoned fruit salads, and the pidgeon talks too much.

I spotted the back areas, all fenced off, that's what I'm good at after all, and I stood against an old office chair pushing across the fence, where the old ferry walkways lay rotting on the falling in piers. Forgotten and pushed into funeral biers, but too wet to burn.

All the old wood being eaten alive by the river, like thousands of clay chinese soldiers, supporting the weight of Progress. Old Progress. New on old on new on old, layer after layer of building. People, all people people people, and then left on their own, a new creature of organic thought and feeling, invented from intent.

A mustached man told us about the development plans, immediately went right into the whole thing, planned year by year, just by me asking a question. Because, you know, it's what he cares about. He loves this place too.

Inside the waiting room, it was a library, only there no books, only people sitting on benches with radiators underneath them, waiting to be read.

And why can't we make rooms like this anymore? Don't we care about libraries anymore? Where have all the waiting room writers gone? Their children do what now, who knows, but do they come back and bring their children and tell them that their great grandfathers created those moldings, or bent these planks of wood, or carved those massive stairs? Set those windows in place, and oiled the hands of that clock. Or waited every morning to go to work in that mythical city across the river, in the fog and then out of the fog in the evening, back home through this station every day.

So this was the best part of Hoboken, how everything was designed to get you somewhere. How we caught a taxi back through the streets, and how it shone blue and sandstone and concrete against the rest of the world which we could see around us but were safe from.

More pics of the Hoboken waterfront here (though frankly, none as good as that first shot, goddamn) and of Lackawanna Train Station here.


  1. Girl, you managed to make my miniature town look pretty damn foxy. Also Woody called and told me he isn't coming back until I wash my hair.

  2. Fuck, that means we're probably both going to have to wash our hair.

  3. Thanks Bill! It was more awesome being there though. I want to go back and live in Sibyl's Cave and only come out at sunrise and twilight.

  4. Dear Bridget,

    You know that I simply adore you, right? I want to shout my adoration from rooftops (if I had access to any… most of them are secure enough from the likes of random cats such as myself from going onto one and somehow stumbling over an edge, which I would no doubt do, given enough rooftops to climb) because of all the people that I have ever met, you are that one girl who ‘listens to the same kind of music that I do’. Oh where, oh where, have you been for most of my life?

    I told Nebraska why I ‘wished we could have met in high school’ and it wasn’t until I would stumble across your blog, that I had met anyone else who I thought that of. Reading your journal takes me back to the hormonal soup that was high school, filled with acne, blackheads, stoner white guys who snuck out in back of the school near the teacher’s parking lot to smoke and stuck up sister girls, mimicking the slutty fashions of the moment, too good to talk to me but not too good to get passed around like a joint at a jock party on a Friday night. For some reason I could see myself trying to be a part of your ‘crowd’ (don’t pretend that you did not have one; everybody had one, everyone that is, except me… that is who I was and am… the in-betweener), hoping that whatever it is that I saw in you would either notice me so we could grow closer or at the very least rub off on me, so I could find a place in society.

    Anywho, the opening paragraph to this entry so totally and completely pulled together experiences that I have had in the past two years that I have not been able to put together in a way that made sense. I have my for real cognitive issues, issues that were not helped by the accident I was in this past Monday evening. So that your words still were able to reach and pull something out of me (which I think is closely related to the me I have always wanted to be or at least the me I see myself as) is very important. I really feel lucky to have found you.

    Yeah, I have a crush but like I said, it stems from wishing I knew you when, not to be obsessive over some chick now. I think that maybe your influence would have drawn me more into something else and away from other things, that you could have been a part of the ballast that would keep me from drifting out into life’s commercial sea lanes and being churned about in the water by the wake of other vessels. I don’t know, not sure if I really care about what might have as much as I wonder about right now.

    The SFC is from New Jersey. Not Hoboken, though the penguin Bugs Bunny tried to repatriate to the South Pole was. New Jersey could be worse… I think it has gotten a bad rap and while the vibe for me was sketchy, for that girl, maybe…

    Yup, looks as though I am starting to ramble. Loved the first paragraph and I think I may be motivated to write from that image soon. Oh, love you too. Enjoy your excursion and be well!

    Love & Rockets!

  5. Thanks Mark. I have a Salinger quote about the bottom of the page which pretty much sums up what I want to be as a writer, so I appreciate your comments. Though, let me tell you, there are like WAY more people than just me that listen to Belle and Sebastian :)

  6. This was absolutely awesome Bridget. The photos were breathtaking too.

  7. Thanks. And props go out to the seagulls, who were very cooperative.

  8. If Woody Guthrie saw these photos, he would go back to Hoboken without the hairwashig requirement, giving you all more time to eat black-eyed peas and licorice cows. If you wanted to, I mean.

  9. Oh Woody, it's really all for you. Or maybe Arlo. But you can have some.

  10. So true, clothes are not optional when staying with friends. Or Mother in Laws. Yes, I have stayed with my MIL in a small hotel room in NYC and some how she found it acceptable to roam around the tiny room naked while I suffocated my self hidden under my covers of my tiny bed. At least I had my own bed.

  11. This is fantastically beautiful.


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