Paris or Poughkeepsie? November 30, 2014
The best thing about Bo is that he’s curious about everything. Even the smallest, dullest, sleepiest towns make him bounce down the streets with his hand on his chin and the other hand with Wikipedia poised at attention, ready to Google the history of the church he just passed, or the size of the town, or the best direction to see the best sights.
So when Bo had business in Poughkeepsie the weekend of November 15, I agreed to go despite knowing nothing about the town besides its reference in the “Sex and the City” film. We boarded the 10 am train upstate, a path that wound up the Hudson River valley, showing off its mountains and colorful trees and tiny little American towns. It was freezing cold out, but I could rally if it meant getting Bo out of the city, which seemed in recent days, to bear down on him.
I’m envious of Bo’s enthusiasm. Lately I’ve wanted to travel far but haven’t had the means. The day trips are a nice distraction, but still leave me feeling restless and unsatisfied. After my friends cancelled my trip to Montreal, I’ve felt trapped in New England; dying to see something different. “Why can’t we just be in Paris?” I ask myself. “Why can’t we just be in the Bahamas?” Why not on an airplane?
We got to Poughkeepsie at noon. I noted that immediately surrounding the station was somewhat nondescript: a strip mall with a few restaurants, a riverside park dotted with a Children’s Museum and a seafood restaurant. We walked up the river to the Walkway on the Hudson, a railway track converted to pedestrian walkway 21 stories high in the air. We waited at the base for a slow, glass elevator to take us up to the top. Bo smiled and kissed me. Even this, to him, was exciting.
“It’ll just be the two of us, it’ll be romantic,” he said. The elevator doors opened at an elevator operator smiled and let us in.
“Well, the three of us,” Bo said with a chuckle. The elevator started to rattle slowly up; depositing us on the walkway into the bitter cold wind.
We walked from one end to the other and enjoyed the big view up and down the Hudson. We read the plaques on the wall, we took pictures and held gloved hands. By 1 pm it was time for Bo’s meeting. I waited for him at the train station, which had recently been renovated but maintained its old style architecture. I watched commuters pass through with suitcases. I listened to their voices echoing down from the corridors.
After Bo returned we decided to walk along the main street. In all our day trips, a walk on Main Street is the staple of the trip, and we’ve seen so many of them during our summer excursions. We snuck into a historic theater and then into a church. The downtown area was quiet -- too quiet -- for a place as cute as it. Eventually I realized I’d been sans coffee all day.
“A brassiere,” Bo said. He pointed down the street at red lit restaurant sign. I was skeptical, seeing as every other restaurant we’d passed was a hole in the wall. “You can get an espresso there.”
So we went in and we were pleasantly surprised. The whole place was new, and decorated just like a Parisian brasserie – think red leather booths, soft round yellow lights, white tiled floors and gold accents.
We sat at the bar and ordered an espresso.
“Let’s pretend we’re in Paris,” I said.
“Where could we pretend we are?”
“Somewhere in the ninth,” Bo said.
We continued to giggle and chat, and I let my latte ease me into a warm, comfortable state. I then decided to remind myself that every place is special. I remembered the time I took my first trip out of the country alone to London. It was nearly last minute, and it was after 15 years of complaining that I hadn’t made it out of the country. If I'm honest with myself, I realize that it could be even longer before I get to travel again. I would need to be patient even if it depressed me. Eventually someday, I’d be in Paris again and not Poughkeepsie. Or, wherever.