I drove to Anne's house on Sunday. She's a little less than halfway between here and New York, but I can get a train pretty inexpensively from her town. The day I left it was gorgeous and I put my camera on my dashboard and tried to get spontaneous brief videos of riotous colour along the highway, but I had a little trouble with camera angle, because, you know, I was driving and everything. And I was concentrating. I really was. The next morning, the trees around Anne's parking lot had left gifts on my car like this one. This was all very lovely, because I was pretty sure most of this mind-blowing colour would have fallen onto the ground by the time I got back from the city. (I was right.)
But cities are otherwise colourful. When I arrived at Grand Central Station, it was well after rush hour, which meant the place was empty enough for me not to feel overwhelmed, and so that I had time to gawk like what I was, which was a Tourist. I really think this is my favourite train station ever. I remember its being dirtier, with dark wood fixtures. It seems to have been spiffed up, which can, in some cases, turn toward architectural travesty (cf. Wheaton College dorms), but Grand Central Station is still magnificent.I had had breakfast before leaving Anne's, but I was a little hungry, so I went to the Dining Concourse, and bought myself a soft pretzel with nacho cheese to dip it in. I got the kind of pretzel with the enormous salt crystals on it because they look so cool, but this turned out to be a mistake, so I ended up flicking them all off. I sat in a molded plastic chair that was supposed to look like a big puffy armchair but was much harder, flicked salt off my pretzel, and people-watched.
There are the Nice Families. And the chic, suave, posh Urbanites. The respectable middle-aged, middle-class Couples, usually traveling in groups of four, whose fashion sense screams, "We're Americans! Check out our heinous accents!" when they go to places like London. The hopelessly attractive Hippie Couple and their long-haired love children. The Obligatory Lady in Magenta Sweater and Fuzzy Red Earmuffs, clutching a plastic bag and babbling to herself. This one's bag was from Macy's, and on it was scrawled in permanent marker a name, and the words "Midnight Run." I thought this was all very eccentrically charming and mysterious. It got a little creepier after she sat herself down next to one of the unsuspecting Nice Families and I realised she was babbling loudly about kidnapping.
Everyone in a train station is a caricature of themselves. Of course they're all much more complex in reality. Likely, if I got to know any of the people I was watching, I'd discover them to be both like their stereotypes, and altogether different. I myself was the semi-artsy writer-wannabe-chick with scuffed boots and a well-tailored coat, eating a soft pretzel and scrawling notes on a napkin. But of course you all know better.
Photos by jennw2ns: Golden Tree 2007. Leaf-Gift 2007. Grand Central Rush 2007.