Monday, July 11, 2011

notes from a train ride

Saturday, around 5:25 p.m. Hello darling, on the train leaving Manhattan behind, the cars on the Henry Hudson, cyclists with helmets in Inwood Park, just on the other side of the GW now, having passed beneath. Sun & shadows flicker as the train moves & my handwriting is a bit wobbly as the train wobbles. I've got a riverside seat again, as I did on the way down, and it's past five & the sun is bright & due west high in the sky over - now - the Palisades. So glad this train is moving!

I had a fun day though it didn't go as I expected, though it didn't matter in the end. Lunch with my girlfriend didn't work out perhaps just as well, because by the time I arrived at Penn this morning I had a bee in my bonnet about obtaining a bottle of Miss Dior for myself, finally - which didn't seem like it would be such a big deal - I'll just stop in Macy's, I thought, first thing I do, it's right near the station. Only Macy's doesn't carry this evidently rare & classic Dior brand - only an updated version, called Miss Dior Cherie - not the same thing, I said to the gentlemanly clerk. He nodded in smiling agreement - no, not at all.

Fine, so I'll go to Lord & Taylor, just a few blocks away. They don't carry it either. Now I was - maybe not obsessed, but focused & determined. The more the perfume eluded me - the more I desired it (ah, sweetheart - isn't that how it always goes?!).

So I marched in my stylish & fortunately comfortable sandals up Fifth, straight to Saks, which really does seem to be a repository of every obscure exquisite fragrance to be had. I told the clerk what I wished - Miss Dior - the Miss Dior - and she lit up. She said, oh what a classic - yes of course! I told her that I had first worn it when I was age 16. And now I wished to buy some, in the least expensive form or quantity they offered. And she was very nice, no attitude at all. I didn't wish to spend more than necessary for a trip down memory lane. The toll for the trip turned out to be $69 plus tax, my love. Worth every penny though - my prize, my quarry, almost like recovering some tiny emblematic artifact of my youth. And I felt all the more elegant & polished too, having just that little dab behind my ears & pulse points at my wrists & elbows.

Afterward I stopped in Rockefeller Center (across the street from Saks) to acquire a bar of lemon verbena soap.


I put my pen down now & look out across the shimmering water, dotted with occasional white-sailed boats, and speeding, surfing motorboats.

I was plotting how to go about my routine - traipse all over town after all with maximum efficiency. So I bought a single-ride ticket and took the #6 Lexington Avenue local from 50th Street to Spring Street, & there enjoyed strolling a bit in Soho, heading to a specialty shop where I encountered the very same clerk who had helped me about three months ago, when I stepped into their Park Slope shop. She helped me today, and I felt very comfortable speaking quite forthrightly to her again, and she listened to me, and showed me a few options that might work for me a bit better than the first (as awesome as it is) but I realize (as I learn more about myself) that I'm using it not precisely for the location it's designed for, & if I prefer a different location - well then go for that already - and, oh plus - more power. I don't think she remembered me, and at the end of the transaction I said to her, "you're the same one who helped me months ago in Park Slope and stepping in here today I thought how handy" - and she smiled and said, "I'm everywhere, wherever I can help..." It was really nice, like having my own sex therapist - there she is, right when I need her!

(I'm afraid I will be requesting an add'l b-day present after all, or somehow other obtain this item, which I'll order online, and isn't cheap, about $89 for a 1-year guaranteed, rechargeable metaphoric - no, literal - delivery system of ecstasy. But I am thrilled that my $12 purchase today entitled me to a 25% off coupon that I can apply to this... now necessary luxury.)

Here's another tiny sailboat across the water... A scattering of them, so tiny in the distance - the river quite wide at this point - that they look like toy boats. Where are we? Nearing Croton already. I'm hungry. All I had today (after breakfast at home of squash pie) was a slice of homemade pizza on the train this morning, and a slice of pissalediere in a little makeshift park in front of Macy's where I found myself needing to kill time before my train.

I had to kill time because the gallery - the very reason originally for my visit - was inexplicably closed, steel gates shut tight. I wasn't the only person there surprised to see it closed. I told two guys, I came 125 miles to come see this. They had nothing to do with the gallery, had wished to visit it themselves, and said in empathetic sympathy - we're so sorry!

Oh well.

Poughkeepsie 40 minutes, announces the conductor...

By the way I stopped into a Barnes & Noble hoping to take a peek at 1.0's book but they could only order it for me, none in stock. I gave the title - and the clerk remarked in considering the title - "rough landscape," which I thought was pretty funny. (Dear 1.0 - I'm trying, I did leave a note with the head librarian - I'll have to follow up with her.)

And it was after that, after I set off on a westerly hike down 21st Street from Fifth to nearly 11th Avenue - that I discovered that the gallery was closed. By this time my feet were starting to give out. I climbed the stairs and walked along the High Line whose improbable perennial borders put mine (on the ground, in the country) to shame.

I thought that I might catch an earlier train - but how to tell D to pick me up at 5:15 rather than 7:15? I passed by a Dunkin Donuts with wifi (which I've never used before in a retail place), bought an access code for $2 and emailed his cell. Then went to Penn only to learn that there would be a $4 surcharge for changing the train, and I only had $2 on me, & the clerk would not budge on it (not that I blame her, the computer rules her). So I used my last $2 to return to the donut shop & purchase another wifi code to tell D to pick me up at 7:15 after all. Like an O. Henry story.

I had left the house with plenty of money, but had used up more than I'd anticipated on Miss Dior, so this pauper can hardly complain, not with my scavenger hunt successfully completed with perfume, bath soap, & babelube. How can I complain when I'm going to smell & feel so good?

And still that dab on my wrist lingers, when I put my chin in my hand & gaze out the window at the beautiful river.

We've just passed West Point, across from Garrison. I'm glad this train is moving, I'm eager to be home already with a glass of wine - which would be lovely to have on the train too, at this beautiful hour with the dazzling light & killer views. You would love it darling. Every now & then I see a tall waterbird too - as in just now standing on a marsh - a heron or egret -

Oh now we're passing beneath the I-84 bridge that spans the river - so we're in Dutchess County. Excellent.

The conductor passes by again. A child singsongs, an Amtrak door opens or shuts - there's the signature mechanical kathunk of it, the carriage shakes, & the engine ceaselessly sounds, and a guy across the aisle from me yawns & stretches, and I see the Newburgh-Poughkeepsie bridge now, so we're near.

And the sun is a bit lower in the sky - I'm guessing it's around 6:40. I love the way the sun shines silver on the river, and golden through the green glades. A train whizzes past us, going downriver as we slow to PKPSE, chugging north - someone sneezes, and now the child is pretending to howl like a wolf.

The next station stop is Rhinecliff - 15 minutes. Someone else sneezes. Stranger across the aisle yawns 'God Bless You.'

(I used to take Amtrak so often, long ago, when I was in college, a much longer trip - three hours and change to/from Stamford & Boston, four to the city, where sometimes I'd visit the friend who I almost had lunch with today - she went to Barnard...)

Rhinecliff. Full stop.

Historic Hudson the oldest station on this Hudson line in approximately 20 minutes. And away we go.

We pass under the Kingston-Rhinebeck bridge. Traffic moves atop the span. The gray Shawangunk hills look peaceful. The sun blazes brighter and sinks further... in the distance upriver I glimpse the Rip Van Winkle Bridge


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