Saturday, May 1, 2010

Long Day's Journey, redux

In the Los Angeles house I grew up in, my two older brothers had glued onto their wall a map of the Tube, the London subway system, salvaged from the years we lived in England. I loved to climb up on my brother's bed and stare at those multicolored interlocking lines and read the names of the stops. Elephant & Castle. Tooting Bec. Swiss Cottage. Ealing Broadway. Uxbridge.

I was so little when we left England that I had no memory of riding the Northern Line or the Piccadilly Line or the Bakerloo Line, and I bore a pint-size grudge about that. There was so obviously stuff going on there in those fantastic destinations—Kentish Town! Shepherd's Bush!—and I'd missed it.

Today in the New York house I live in we have a shower curtain bearing a giant map of the New York subway system. The names on this map may not be as Dickensian as those in London, but they grab me: Pelham Bay Park, Far Rockaway, Brighton Beach. They're the crooked fingers luring me to adventure.

The other week, I wrote about my meeting with the charming, enthusiastic Stanford senior who was planning to take New York by storm en route to a successful acting career. The comparison to Katharine Hepburn's wild confidence was easy—as was the contrast with my own youthful caution.

Well, here I am in New York City, a few decades late, but with time to spare. "Maybe New York itself will be your way of taking New York," My Beloved suggested after I wrote that post. You see why I married him—the man is a genius. He was exactly right. I'm not interested in conquering the New York publishing scene, or starring on Broadway or running for office. But I do want to dive into the deep end of the New York experience and muck about. And the shower curtain is going to get me there.

So today we start the first of a series of periodic adventures: We'll pick one subway line and take it all the way to the end, stopping along the way to walk, eat, explore, hit some dead ends, take some pictures, see what we see. Eventually, we'll ride every line in New York City. Today's journey: the 7 train to Flushing Main Street.

Maybe I didn't make it to Ealing Broadway, but I can take on Broadway-Lafayette (B-D-F-V trains)...and Broadway Junction (A-C-J-L-Z trains)...and East Broadway (F train)...and 74th Street-Broadway (7 train)...and Broadway-Nassau (A-C trains)... . And I consider that a more than fair trade.

1964 London tube map: (c) Transport for London, via Thank you.

Photo: Church Avenue station, Brooklyn. (c) Me


Michele Hush said...

When you arrive at Flushing Main Street, be sure to get out and walk up the street about 1/2 mile to the Queens Botanical Garden. It's a tiny but lovely gem of green grass and flowers.

You will also discover the proverbial dizzying array of choices in Asian cooking. Chinese dominates, but you'll also find Korean, Vietnamese, probably Thai.

irene said...

Happy trails! A new adventure begins.

Tina Cockburn said...

Wish I could have been there with you two!

Unknown said...

You're a girl after my own heart. I have an old 1950's version of the London tube map on the wall here in our English country cottage. I too peer at it and have romantic sensations.

Can't wait to read your reports on the NYC subway.

Helena xx

Susan Champlin said...

Michele: You were so right about the Botanical Gardens—such a welcome oasis of calm and beauty after that dizzying array of Flushing!

Irene: Thank you (and your adventure is beginning, too)!

Tina: I agree. Come back.

Helena: A kindred spirit! I so envy you having that map on your walls. The one in my childhood home was torn down when the room got redecorated, and I miss it so much. Thank you for riding the rails with me.

Style Souk said...

Such a beautiful adventure awaits...

It strikes me that this will be the most perfect way to romance your city and see her again with 'new' eyes.

Sarah x

P.S: As one who wearily traverses the underworld of London every day - in a heat unbeknownst even to Hades and parcelled like sardines in a tin - I yearn to share your love of our subterranean rail network!