The elevated Van Cortlandt station at 242nd and Broadway in the Bronx is the origin of the red 1 local line that terminates at South Ferry in Lower Manhattan. The station sits high up and overlooks the vast green of Van Cortlandt Park to the east and Manhattan City College to the West. Standing on Broadway, I can look up to see the red wooden facade of the station made to mimic a train depot. The front is painted a faded maroon. A transit employee empties a garbage can. Near the bronze green staircase, a young girl plays with an abandoned pay phone while her mother, on a cell phone, beckons her to move it. "Are you grown? You sure acting like you is." The girl brushes pass me to join her mother. A hefty man in a wife beater and long pants opens a door with a do not enter sign affixed to it so he can take a short cut to the other track to board the Manhattan bound train that is entering the station. The neighborhood is alive with a festive spirit.
Today is Fourth of July, and a swath of locals BBQ chicken and sausage along the station entrance and into the park. The stretch of green accommodates a healthy band of families. Children swim in the nearby city pool. A girl, dripping wet, chooses a gooey skewer of chicken kabobs. A trail meanders through the sea of people, mainly Latin and African Americans. I walk to a quiet edge of the park. A marshland is set up with a boardwalk trail of sagebrush. I walk through the marsh and find a bench near a lake. It is here that I write.