I went home for the weekend, back to Forest Hills and seeing just how many times I could get in and out of the City in a 72 hour period.
As discussed over brunch–there comes a point in geography where only one feature matters. At my current residence there’s “The River” ( the Mississippi); in Chicago everyone gives directions by “The Lake” (Lake Michigan); and for me there will only ever be one “City.” That’s the ‘appropriate’ name for Manhattan despite the fact that New York City as a whole encompasses about half of Long Island (Queens and Brooklyn counties), the Bronx and Staten Island.
I’m duly accented again, though I’m sure that will slip once I start hearing the people around here speak again. The New Yawk accent is a slightly more gravelly version of my voice with a heavy dose of Queens.
It was such a change being back. I’d forgotten how easy it is to be around 15 different nationalities, all different ages and stages of life and who are speaking multiple languages –all this on one subway car. The United Nations is Midtown East but the nations of the world truly come together on the E and the F trains, all trying to get home. It’s a great reminder of how we are similar despite outward appearances. I’d also forgotten my ability to sleep on public transit. It’s suddenly clear how I managed to function on 5 hours of sleep a night, I was dozing for the better part of two hours on the train. During the squished morning commute, you’re mostly just trying to play Jenga with your body and everyone else’s but on the long stops between express stations, you do relax a little. If I have a seat, forget it, I’m mostly comatose within about two stops. I’m perfectly aware of where the train is; I hear every stop. I know where my purse is and am keeping it secure. That doesn’t mean I’m particularly lucid otherwise though.
And despite my much shorter commute (ten minute drive), I do slightly miss having a train commute. My train ride from 14th St and 8th Ave to 71st/Continental Ave in Queens was just about 40 minutes, with a ten minute walk on the Queens side. In the evening, if I was lucid, it was my reading time but often, that was just my time to think. Particularly on the walk. You descend into the train and because it’s dark in the tunnels you’re moving to a different world. When I came up the stairs in Manhattan–it was “work world” and I was in an office frame of mind. Once I arrived back in Queens I came up to “home world.” It gave a clear break between the two locations that I think we miss out on when we drive.
I’m back to La Crosse and the piles of snow the sun is valiantly attempting to melt. I’ll be teased for a week until I can get my voice back in the register people of “WisCAHNsin” think it should live (there’s a clear accent here too….). And while it’s nice to have my car, knowing I need to throw nearly everything out in the fridge and try again, I do miss the E/F/G/V/R (transfer upstairs to the Long Island Rail Road).