Sunday, April 3, 2016

Jamaica Station

A recent horoscope I read quoted Rimbaud in its advice to all the people of planet Earth who happened to be born between July 22 and August 23:

I sought voyages to disperse the enchantments that had colonized my mind.

How beautiful is that? The gist of the horoscope was to take a trip because I (and all people who happened to be born between July 22 and August 23) have been living too much inside my head. No shit, Free Will Astrology. I'm an introverted writer. You want I should do standup comedy at an open mike night in the West Village? I take the point about taking a trip, though. I have been nowhere of note since last summer's trip to the Netherlands. So my original plan was to travel to Peru and back pack around for a bit, see Machu Picchu, a bit of Bolivia, learn how to spell either of those correctly on the first try. But that is going to be my 2017 trip. This year, I'm thinking Ireland and Wales...something about green cliffs and rocky coastlines, something about pastures and accents and dark beer...just seems like the right time for that. I have lately been just wanting to skip town, not tell anyone where I am or what I'm doing, and just seeing where I end up. I've never done that and, like most things I've never done, it seems so appealing, so draped in sequins and mystery. 

To disperse the enchantments that had colonized my mind.

Over the past week that has run through my head often. This week was the one year anniversary of my grandmother's death. I took the day off from work and headed home the night before to attend a mass in her honor and to visit her grave. Scheduling and train times found me waiting for 40 minutes for a train at Jamaica station, that grey behemoth of a building in the middle of the walk through/flyover/rollover neighborhood where people are perpetually just passing through, eyes down, hands gripping rolling suitcases like coal miners with dying flashlights.  It is amazing how little eye contact is exchanged in the cacophonous tangle of train tracks and platforms. I suppose more exciting or in my case at least, more familiar places await and Jamaica is just a place to get through.

I stood on the outdoor platform near the elevators and digital schedule board and watched people with stern faces or lost faces or relaxed-just-back-from-Florida sunburnt faces as they wheeled past me and my cold hands and grumbling stomach. I thought about how easy it would be to just keep walking through the little alcove where the Long Island train station becomes the AirTrain becomes JFK airport becomes the gate becomes the open air becomes destination. I had credit cards on me, I had a day off work; it could have happened.

I often feel like a walking version of unrealized potential and so I stood and waited.

I looked out on that brown and grey landscape, dotted with old looking new buildings, haphazardly placed in the middle of the long, long island just west of the Atlantic ocean and felt those colonizing enchantments leave my brain and float out above that sky line and land at the foot of the tall digital clock in the distance, a clock that stood taller than all of the surrounding buildings and kept the wrong time. It was actually an hour behind.

And I felt so ready to leave this place where I had so many times waited for trains or for people or for my life to begin or a period of my life to end. I thought about that time my ex boyfriend made me walk him to the train that would take him from Queens to Long Island (a trip I had to convince him to make every time) and, as we waited for his train (which was late and, subsequently made me late for work that day) told me he'd never read anything I wrote because it would just make him want to laugh. And even though it hurt the me of back then, the me of now laughed because I know that he was giving me a gift right there on that train platform. He was giving me a story.

My train finally arrived and I inserted myself inside the living Tetris of the train car and was on my way to erstwhile home to think about my grandmother and the many times she took the same trip in her lifetime, only she was wearing heels and was going home to a full house. I wondered if she ever thought about escaping to other places and where she might be now.

I never would have thought of the Jamaica train station as a good place to meditate but then again, every day I'm surprised at how things are never what they seem. It is Sunday now and I'm going to do some work and head off to the planetarium and hopefully get even further out of my head. I wish for similar journeys to everyone who has done me the favor of reading this far.


  1. This is just beautiful. I have fond memories of picking you up at Jamaica station. The knowledge that one can just escape to a far off place is sometimes enough to give one the feeling of peace. And I think you found it during your meditation that day. And that is powerful because no place can give you real peace unless you find it within yourself first. Consider the enchantments dispersed.

    1. I just saw this comment! I think that's why I always prefer living in big cities...the knowledge that there is so much there, even if I don't partake in it!