Archive for September 5th, 2007

My first visit back to the MoMA after its massive renovation brought with it some melancholy—perhaps because my exicted hopes were somewhat diminished when I couldn’t see Night Fishing at Antibes, but perhaps when walking around the early 20th century galleries, we came across a series of three paintings by Umberto Boccioni known as States of Mind.  Set in a train station, Boccioni deconstructs the smoke of the locomotive and the raindrops to depict the pain of separation in an exploration that the MoMA refers to as “the psychological dimension of modern life’s transitory nature:” 

The Farewells.                  Those Who Go.                 Those Who Stay. 

Seeing these while in the midst of a long-distance relationship struck a chord that sounded a little too clear, a little too plaintive, but it was likewise difficult to tear my eyes from any of them.  Having been one who has gone and one who has stayed, the bleak background lit by surreal colors and dizzying shapes captures those respective moods just a little too well.  My mind has drifted as I’ve sat in train cars, sometimes unaware of where I am until the conductor makes the 5-minute warning announcement, and I’ve been the one left at the station to trudge away, forced to deal with yet another bout of loneliness.  Few things are clear save for the number of the train, the time you’re supposed to be getting on and off it, and how much time you have before it leaves and before it arrives. 

What conjured up these memories now, you may ask, when those days are thankfully behind me (and have been for the past two years)?  Despite the fact that I’m not constantly traveling back and forth between the suburbs of Philadelphia and New Haven, riding the Amtrak train southward still instills in me a feeling of dread, anxiety and even sadness—especially at night, as some of the more painful Sunday rides home involved miserable November evenings, when light would be fleeting at 4 in the afternoon and there would be little to see save the occasional R7 station stop or the Trenton Lower Free Bridge with its passive-aggressive slogan “TRENTON MAKES THE WORLD TAKES.”  Even now I get beset with melancholy when the conductor announces that 30th Street Station is another 20 minutes away that only truly lifts when I find myself back in 30th Street a few days later, when the relief rolls in as I line up at Stairway 3 to head back up into the wilds of New England. 

Perhaps this may disappear with time, but then again, it may be better not to take it for granted, no?


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