Sunday, November 17, 2013


On the weekends, the R local train runs on the express tracks into Manhattan. During the week because of the extensive repairs being done to the tunnels, caused by Sandy stepping heavily on the infrastructure of the transit system, the R only goes to Court Street which is in downtown Brooklyn, causing R riders needing the lower Manhattan Broadway stops much aggravation and this aggravation will continue for the next year or so.  But on the weekend the R travels fast and comes out into daylight (or night light) on the Manhattan Bridge. I love watching the jolt of surprise on the faces of the tourists as they realize this beautiful city (at least the lower portion of it) is rushing by outside the windows as we zoom past Chinatown and the graffiti scared roofs, upper parts of the buildings and indeed the bridge itself and then it’s back into the tunnel. The last time I saw the city this way, was right after 9-11 when once again because of damage to the lower Manhattan stations the R had to cross over the Manhattan Bridge. It was sad, with smoke and dust still hovering over the downtown skyline and all talk and noise in the subway car would come to a sudden stop and looks of despair, sadness and anger would appear on the faces of the passengers. Growing up in Brooklyn, and leaving it in my 18th year to live in the city, going and coming over the bridge was a familiar but always spectacular sight for me, and it still is. Supposedly when I was very young and my Mother was going to take me into the city for the first time, she told me we would be crossing a river to get there. I asked her if we would have to swim across to get there, she laughed, took a puff of her Raleigh cigarette and I assume hugged me, and for the 31 years that I lived in Manhattan I would only cross the bridge to visit my parents who were still living in the same apartment that I grew up in. Once when I was very young my brother took me into the city probably to a movie and I saw a very old woman on the train who scared me. It was no doubt my first encounter with our mortality and when I got back home I burst out crying telling my good looking raven haired mother not to get old and die, of course she eventually did both of those things, but in 1953 she still looked like a cross to my new movie going eyes between Jane Russell, Ruth Roman and Patricia Medina. From the R train’s windows we can also see in the not far distance the great Brooklyn Bridge which I walked across so far only once when a few springs ago I crossed it from Brooklyn into Manhattan with my oldest friend a few weeks before he left my beloved city for a smaller more quieter place somewhere out west. In the far distance on clear days I can also see the other bridge, the breathtaking Verrazano-Narrows that is now part of my life, and looms over my quiet unhip but pretty Brooklyn neighborhood that I’ve lived in since the summer of 2001. Its the first thing I see as I cross the street from my apartment to go to Sally & George’s for my morning toasted roll and coffee. 


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