Monday, July 16, 2012

Catching Up

While I went to wander around San Diego, my camping gear went home by UPS.

And I networked and spoke on panels, hung out with old friends and made some new ones, went to parties, and mostly, sought out iced coffee. And when I got home, late one Sunday night after actually taking a taxi home from the airport instead of public transportation (work was paying and it was 11 PM), the Newark driver careened along the New Jersey Turnpike spur, high over the belching, sprawling metallic underbelly of New York, the sprawling infrastructure that runs the region. My hair tried to break free of its clip, the little wisps whipping around in the wind of all the taxi windows being down.

"What exit?" The cabbie asks me. "Columbus?"

"Yes, 14C."

"No, Columbus." I see his confused glance in the rearview mirror. He's forgotten that 14C is both Columbus and the Holland Tunnel.

"Yes, Columbus." He'll work it out. I turn my attention to the view.

"My god, this is ugly," I thought as we whizzed by the oil refineries and port. "Imagine what newcomers to the US must feel, what immigrants think when they take taxis from Newark Airport to the Holland Tunnel."

They must be shocked.

But I love it. I love the dirty mechanical hideousness below the highway, the ugly that holds up the beauty of the nearby gleaming skylines. Giant machines run New York, huge cranes and containers, "Oil Heats Best," a toxic wasteland dotted by friendly communities of people who do not make eighty, a hundred thousand a year, the working class who know too well the PATH train and the buses of New Jersey Transit.

I always see this panorama, whether I take the Airlink, the bus to Newark, a taxi, or get a lift from a friend.

And it's hideous, so hideous that it is stunning. I love it. If only we were going over the Pulaski Skyway as well, I think, as we race along toward the tunnel. 

No comments: