The Train by the Hudson (Hudson River, NY)
I met your friend Lucy today. She gave me a lift to the train station in Beacon and we had lunch together by the water. In your honor. Thank you for this last gift, you brought us together and it seemed we knew each other for so long.
I took the day to say goodbye and to think about our friendship, our mutual love for cats, Italian grammar problems and Phebo soaps. I took the train all the way up to Beacon and the spring sunny day couldn’t be more appropriate for a solitary ride looking at the Hudson River. It was the first time for me, taking the Hudson line up North. I loved to do it on my own, there’s nothing like a scenic train ride without small talk.
When the train stopped at Tarrytown, a man sat next to me and started talking about some teenagers, complaining about their loud music in another car. Although he looked nice, carrying a bulky backpack and wearing a biking helmet, I still felt uncomfortable. Maybe the conversation would progress and – I know – I’m never firm enough to dismiss somebody or make it clear that I don’t want to talk. I think it’s so rude. (I know, I know you would say: “Ines, stop! Just tell him you want to be quiet and period!”). Small talkers always win over me, but this guy was not too bad.
Later, after the short funeral, Lucy insisted on giving me a lift back to the train station and, on the way, we decided to have lunch and toast in your honor with Pinot Grigio. I was on a diet to be in shape for my summer outfits, but I couldn’t resist the occasion and dived into a big plate of fish and chips. Lucy, instead, was more composed and ordered a salad with scallops. She told me you used to braid her hair in class when you were in Grad school and that you loved to sing “Lady”, imitating Kenny Rogers outside of her dorm. She said your friendship was meant to happen because you crossed paths too many times until you decided to really become close. She also told me you hesitated for a few years before you decided to take my Italian class. Can you imagine not having endless grammar discussions with me or not ever setting foot in Italy after I convinced you it would be great? Yes, we were also meant to be friends.
You sat in my Italian class for the first time five years ago. You were always early for school, always dressed with matching colors and lots of rings, bracelets and necklaces. You loved perfume. Sometimes you sipped caffelatte from a paper cup, an unusual drink for the evening class. You were always unusual, irreverent and flamboyant. People gave you quizzical looks on the first day, but then started to love your kindness and your deep sense of justice. Your love for cats was legendary and everyone knew you adopted many of them. One of my own cats came from your home and I’m grateful for my Ziggy Stardust, who was born on the same week we lost David Bowie.
On the way back home, I look at the Hudson River on the right side, while the train speeds south towards New York. The sun creates sprinkles of light on the water and the marsh is dotted with herons, egrets and mallards sitting and hunting for fish peacefully, not bothering about people.
Earlier, Lucy and I parted with a hug. We agree that now you must be speaking fluent Italian, still scrutinizing about verb conjugations and flying over Perugia, the city you dreamed to visit on your next trip to Italy. I’m sure you are there. Meanwhile, we miss you.