Boundaries

March 26, 2010

When I was little – say between the ages of two and six – my parents regularly took me along with them to visit an uncle who lived in the northwest corner of New Jersey. He had a nursery (trees, not children), pretty scenery, some fun dogs and cats, even a small herd of goats. Anyway, to ge there we’d take the subway and then the “Hudson Tubes” (officially PATH) over to Hoboken, where we’d board the Erie Lackawanna Railroad (does that still exist?). I remember being fascinated by all the details involved in taking a train – getting tickets, finding the right track and car etc. Then… I guess in the earliest years I slept most of the way, or at least had very little on my mind; but at some point I began to ponder the fact that we always started out in “the city,” a built-up area with houses and streets and cars everywhere, and ended up in “the country,” a place with open fields, trees, grass, and just a few houses scattered around – and I could never tell just where we crossed over from one to the other! At first I thought it was just that I was asleep or somehow distracted when we crossed the line, and I got obsessed with trying to keep my eyes fixed on the window the whole way in the hope that finally I’d see that boundary between “city” and “country.” No matter how hard I tried I kept missing it! It took years before I was able to deal with the fact that there just was no line, that buildings gradually got smaller and sparser for the most part, and the greenery gradually more evident until finally we just were there.

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