I flew into LaGuardia at the blue hour, the moment when the city lights overlap with the fast-fading sunset. The air was full of translucent droplets of snow, diffusing the late-afternoon light still further, and as my cab rolled across the Upper East Side, down Museum Mile, and through Central Park, I thought, New York doesn’t even have to try to be beautiful–it just is. Of course the beauty of the blue hour means different things to different people, and sometimes even to the same person: I can imagine finding it either romantic or depressing, depending on my mood. Not currently being disposed to either extreme, I was content to call it beautiful and let it go at that.
The last sound I heard before I got in my rental car this morning and headed for the Smalltown city limits was a train whistle. My brother tells me that more freight trains have been passing through Smalltown lately, and though the tracks are halfway across town from my mother’s house, you can still hear the whistles loud and clear. My mother thinks they sound mournful, but I never thought so. They used to make me curious about the big world somewhere down the track, and now that I live in that big world, they remind me that I have things to do back there.
My kitchen table is usually piled high with mail when I come back from Smalltown, especially when I’ve been gone for a week or more, but this time there wasn’t a thing–it’s at the post office, waiting to be picked up. All I found were flowers in a vase and groceries in the refrigerator, courtesy of my adorable assistant, and in the absence of any visible signs of the urgent tasks that await me come morning, I decided to take the rest of the night off.
No doubt I’d have done better to roll up my sleeves and get cracking, especially since I have a piece to write, a sackful of mail to answer, a half-dozen theatrical previews to schedule, a dozen phone calls to make, and a houseguest arriving in the afternoon, immediately followed by a week’s worth of more or less nonstop activity. Still, it was a long day–I had to get up early in the morning, pack my bags, scrape the frost off the car, and drive all the way to the airport in St. Louis–and I had a feeling that I might possibly be better served by spending an hour or so reacquainting myself with the Teachout Museum, then curling up on the couch to watch a few of the episodes of What’s My Line? that my DVR harvested for me last week. So that’s what I’m doing, after which I mean to take a book to bed and read myself to sleep. Tomorrow will have to take care of itself, and if it doesn’t, that’s just too damn bad. Tonight is for me.