“Go West, Young Man!” Well, that is exactly the advice this Brooklyn boy took 12 years ago when I moved west to Glen Spey in Sullivan County to make it my year-round home.
However, there’s another saying with a promise of its own—“There are great riches in the East!” and for the readers of this column, the East is New York City—the Big Apple. Five days a week I arise at the crack of dawn and head east, commuting to my desk in a midtown Manhattan office, across the street from New York’s Penn Station (aka NYPenn).
It’s a full life.
The thing that connects my two worlds is the train. It’s about three hours door to door, including my drive to the Port Jervis (PJ), transfer in Secaucus, NJ and walk to my office. Now that the dark mornings and early nights of winter are behind us, I welcome the longer days when I can see out of the train’s window.
My goal for this column is to help East meet West and vice versa. To many of my neighbors, the city is a world away. On the flip side, I ride home with visiting city folks who have never seen farms, horses, cows or deer. Many a trip I have seen wide-eyed children, noses pressed to the glass, excited to see the world beyond the concrete jungle. For myself, I feel that I live in the best of both worlds, and am excited to share what I know and observe about both.
First off, let me introduce my fellow commuters, who establish a comfortable lifestyle on the train. Unlike a bus or a car, here you can walk about, use the oversized restrooms, stretch out in a three-seater, or take a nap along the way. Food and drink—even alcohol—is allowed on the train. (Smoking, however, is prohibited, including on the platforms, and the authorities can and do issue tickets. So beware.) Every train has a “quiet” car; heading East, it’s the first car, heading home, it’s the last. Quiet cars are not “silent” cars, but it is expected that talking be kept to a whisper, and the other passengers are not shy to police the noise with an evil glance or a polite shhhhhhh.
The morning train, for most of us who travel from PJ, is an extension of our bedroom where we add an extra hour or two of weekly sleep. For me, issues arise on the weekends when my body is so used to getting up for an hour then going back to sleep for two. My pups Dexter and Toby are confused, too, since this early morning hour is their time to go out and chase the deer (which in summertime enjoy feasting on my garden), but somehow Dexter and Toby manage to put off their morning run on the weekends.
The evening train is time to wind down, bring your own newspaper, or read one of the many left on the seats. Usually, you have your choice—from The New York Times to the New York Post, or the Daily News. The River Reporter always brings me back home to local realities.
As for the digital presence, some days it looks like you’re in the aisles of Best Buy. Whether laptops, Kindles, iPads, iPhones, Androids, PS3s, or iPods, all help pass the time. Phone use depends on the location of cell towers, with your choice of service provider playing a big part, too. So, if you need to call for a cab or a pickup in Port Jervis, you had best do it before the train stops at Otisville, since there’s a dead zone after you leave that station.
Well, here comes my station. Time to close out this column today.
And by the way if you’re traveling by train between NYPenn and PJ, or vice versa, maybe I’ll see you there.