Thursday, March 09, 2006

Reflections on the West Side Highway

One of the trade-offs of living uptown — in the cheap seats, so to speak — is having (or wanting) to take the occasional (or more-than-occasional) taxicab ride home at night from anywhere below 96th. And yet sitting in the back of a quiet, fast-moving car, while I can gaze out at the low-profile lights of the Jersey side reflecting their long thin lines across the Hudson, usually broken at least once by a commerical ship passing, is one of my small city pleasures. It may not actually be worth the price — I'm going to plug my ears and hum while you tabulate how much I spend on cab rides, but just imagine how long it's been since I've actually had to buy gas or pay auto insurance premiums — and yet it's not a bad little service to enjoy and it gets me home in a fraction of the time and with a little more scenery than usual. The pleasure was first described to me in a letter written by one year's intern to be passed on to the next, as a sort of primer to life in the city. But 9/11 intervened, my internship ended up being in another place, and I didn't get to experience what it was really like to ride home at night along the river parkways for a few more years, when I finally did arrive here. N.B. This, by no means, diminishes my love for the subways and the occasionally necessary crosstown bus, but even great, meaningful, lifelong relationships with public transit need space to breathe sometimes.

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