Wednesday, January 5, 2011
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.