every morning, as the red line travels from kendall to charles/mgh, i do my best to catch the view from the train windows. king hancock and queen prudential lording over the rooks and pawns and bishops of the boston skyline. every morning i see this and smile a content and happy smile. the boston skyline holds so many memories: meeting josh at copley for the day before we said goodbye for 10 long summer weeks, the citgo sign, ball games and meeting certain brookliners in high school, the river and the regatta, the hatchshell and indian fashion shows, scanning the skyline to find the building in which i was married, the duck boats, the parks, the snow, the sunshine, it all breathes of high school and college and of coming back. contentment and happiness, bottled and painted on the T window every morning.
two weeks ago, a completely different skyline made me realize that while boston is my light, comforting apple pie, new york city is my chocolate soufflé, indulgent and moist with sugar and cream. as we crossed the GW bridge, i caught glimpses of the skyline and started grinning. new york city. ten boston skylines could fit in its wingspan. the foggy outline emitted a buzz of energy; i could almost taste it. i lived and worked and played there for 30 months. two and half years of thursday night tv, chinese food, tolerating times square to get to the theaters, the subway, the PATH, the reliable view of the empire state building from murray hill, my walk to the chrysler building every morning to catch the bus to work, park slope, the upper west side, the smell of cabs, the smell of pizza, chinatown's claustrophobic crowds, the smell of honey roasted peanuts, the image of the subway and bus lines imprinted in my head, bess' hill in central park, running into people you haven’t seen in ages while waiting for a WALK light. my knees started bouncing.
we started our descent at 135th street and I waited for harlem to melt into the familiar streets. then suddenly, at 91st, i saw the first starbucks, then a banana republic, ATMs sprouted everywhere, flower displays grew on the sides of bodegas. this was the nyc i knew so well. go sushi, bread cafe, my old office, pomodoro, my eyes lit up at restaurants like long lost friends, central park playgrounds, the lincoln center and finally port authority. the subway hadn’t changed a bit; the smell, the seats, the lighting. my ears perked at the “ding, ding!’ which announced the closing of the doors. the grin resurfaced.
saturday meant eyebrows, a murray hill breakfast, shopping on 34th street. how many times had I done this during my 30 month stay? a nap in the afternoon, chinese food for dinner, out with B, culminating in the good night call to a far away josh. my weekend routine revisited. a 3am cab ride and a bleary eyed sunday with left over chinese at 11 am. a revisit to 22 at 24. just enough and not too much.
sunday afternoon’s south station scene slowly brought me back to boston. how many hours had i spent waiting in that terminal? how many mad dashes have i made to the trains after seeing the minute hand at the top of the stairs seal my fate? the departure board came to life as i walked below ground for the millionth time. then all of a sudden – my T, my skyline, my charles river, grass and trees and wide streets and empty sidewalks. the key in the door and josh on the couch and my chocolate buzz long forgotten.