Most of us living up here in Sullivan are fascinated by the symbiotic relationship between New York City and our far-flung, nearly-outermost-ring, almost-beyond-the-Delaware county. The city, …
Most of us living up here in Sullivan are fascinated by the symbiotic relationship between New York City and our far-flung, nearly-outermost-ring, almost-beyond-the-Delaware county. The city, scorched to the marrow by coronavirus, remains the world metropolis.
Upstate New York, of course, has a correspondingly complicated relationship to the city which breathes milk and life into every limb of the Empire State. Locals may publicly abjure the city and profess to love to be free of it, but oh we do love it, too. Half the people hereabouts seem to have just arrived from the city, or are about to decamp to it.
For all of us, wherever we are in NYS, NYC is the great umbilical, the dripping celestial teat in the sky which nourishes everything. We all suckle from it and derive prodigious sustenance from it. Without NYC and its magnetism, Sullivan and all NYS would be Arkansas. God forbid! We count the great world metropolis as OURS, and therefore our state, down to its fingerlets in the almost-beyond-the-Delaware, shines and excels. EXCELSIOR.
This week I had occasion to go into NYC for a face-to-face PCP visit after 18 months on Zoom. Dr. Kelly insisted I come; I resisted initially but bit the bullet and went. At the Middletown train station on September 13th, a new track repair program was just beginning.
On the platform a young masked woman rounded everyone and herded us sheeplike onto a bus which then took us to a remote NJ Transit station called “Ramsey – Rt. 17.” At this point already I should have started to dread the inevitable in NYC mass transit “schedule changes;” sheeplike, I slavishly followed instructions. Arriving in Ramsey-17, a train arrived to take us into Secaucus; after a transfer I was in the city at my doctor’s. She was running very late because so many nurses have resigned because they are burnt out, having tried to save dying COVID patients who refused to take the vaccine.
Done with the doctor, off to Penn Station. No one there had the remotest clue about schedule changes at Middletown, NY. I was repeatedly instructed to get off my train at “Ramsey-Rt. 17” station where a shuttlebus would take me back to Middletown. As I disconsolately discovered around 11 PM at Ramsey-17, the shuttlebus service ended at 5:40 PM.
A homeless man sporting wrist malas emerged from dark bushes. Lightning was flashing in the sky and the detonations shuck my chest. Hot rain drops shattered like bullets across the empty platform. “Man, just forget it. No hotels, no nothin’, you’re like me here man. Sheet. You’s nowhere, you’s nowhere man where anyone cares man. Right now.” … A searing white pencil light appeared way down the tracks and got larger. “Where are you going?” I screamed to the conductor at the front end of the train from the rear of it, using my arms as semaphore flags to defeat his inattention. “Middletown!” he bellowed.
I jumped aboard and the train lurched forward. “Middletown?” I repeated. “Middletown,” he said. I dropped into a leatherette NJT seat and the love welled up of Sullivan, our evermore orangeing Sullivan, our true milkmother, our dripping teat from the sky.