Westport 54

next stop: GRAND CENTRAL

INTRANSIT by Aline Weiller

T ake picture?” said an Asian woman beside her beau, tour- ists in Grand Central Station. They were young, she, with a blue linen scarf wrapped loosely around her neck, he, sporting thick black glasses and a grey down vest. “Yes,” I said, followed by a closed-mouth smile, shedding the social shield I don in New York. With arms wrapped waist-high, they posed for the shot, their stillness a sharp contrast to the blurred energy in the backdrop. I returned their phone and the brief encoun- ter passed; I’d solidified their memory. My heavy bag slid to the floor.With nearly an hour before my train, I sat cross-legged at the entrance of Track 26, contemplating days spent in the Main Waiting Room, Grand Cen- tral’s very core. In our 20s, my younger sister, Lois, and I often met my father here after work to board a Connecticut-bound train. “Meet me at the Information Booth. We’ll catch the 6:07,” he’d say. Though he’s gone, I still hear his voice when I grace that spot. It remains a symbolic re- minder and I continue our tradition, meeting friends at the circular booth. A sip of bottled water transported me back to a hot day in June of 1987, another Grand

IN THE HEART OF MANHATTAN, GRAND CENTRAL IS KNOWN AS THE QUINTESSENTIAL HUB, A LANDMARK AND MECCA OF TRANSPORTATION. THOUGH IT IS SO MUCH MORE.

Central moment. I was with my college boyfriend, Nick, at the foot of the steps leading to Vanderbilt Avenue. He was en route to his first, post-graduation interview and stood sweating in a navy pinstriped suit, the sole outfit in his work wardrobe. He loosened the tie we’d bought at Macy’s the day before. “Lemme see your resumé,” I said. Nick obliged. I found a typo and should’ve kept silent, but didn’t. He was thrown and didn’t land the job. I winced while that memory was replaced by another. I recalled meet- ing long-distance friends for a drink at The Campbell Apartment, to the left of Grand Central’s famed Oyster Bar. With its dress code and jazz-filled atmosphere, the upscale bar housed a colorful group of guests. Scores of slick patrons were perched on bar stools, while others lounged on velvet couches. A gaggle of girls, we sipped designer drinks, remi- nisced and exchanged tales of life since our last visit. Similarly, that night I waited for a train home, to carry me from that Grand Central vignette to the suburbs, worlds away.

* In the heart of Manhattan, Grand Central is known as the quintessential hub, a landmark and mecca of transportation. Though it is so much more. It’s a temporary home to millions–some anxious, seeing specialists for second opinions, others arriving with hopeful anticipation for a blind date or lovers’ reunion, still others apathetic, approaching their mundane nine-to-five grind. It is a place of connections. It serves as a respite in which to replenish, a famil- iar pit stop for the weary. Grand Central is a constant among ever-changing circumstances, a makeshift friend upon which you can depend. Eight more minutes, I headed for the platform. Huddled pockets of commuters scrolled their phones, then rushed through open doors. I vied for a seat and found one facing forward. Aline Weiller is an essayist, journalist and guest blogger who has been pub- lished in Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers, Your Teen, Scary Mommy, Grown and Flown and Great Moments in Parenting. She’s also the CEO/founder of Wordsmith, LLC, a public relations firm based in Connecticut, where she lives with her husband and two sons.

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