Saugerties, NY.  December 18, 2013.

My first trip back in many years.  The town is unfamiliar to me until I walk through it in the right order, and then it comes back in fits: the latticework fence on the driveway I’d forgotten about, the bookstore I’d been shooting the day before and not recognized in the snowfall.  I can’t find the restaurant I remember from that late spring evening, and while I am in good company on this trip until this last day alone, I’ve felt on my own these last three days.  It is a ghost town of mine.

Yesterday someone jumped off the bridge just outside the right edge of this frame and drowned somewhere under the ice above the falls.  The snow fell heavily through the day and settled overnight, and as I walk through town this morning in bright sunlight, one of two women sharing a cigarette on a cluttered porch calls out a warm hello, and remarks how different the weather is today.  Later, in a car service on the way out of town, the thin middle-aged driver with bad teeth and bedhead hums along with “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman.

So remember when we were driving, driving in your car
Speed so fast it felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
I had a feeling that I could be someone, be someone, be someone.

He sings along suddenly with those last four words.  Ten minutes later he thanks God he didn’t have to work yesterday in the weather.  Twenty minutes later I am on a train out of this beautiful little place, feeling tired and fortunate and seismic in nature, slow to shift but irrevocably so.

saugerties waterfall

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