Public Geometry

by Gay Spencer 9. January 2012 08:50
Public Geometry

At about 5 pm in January, the muted glow of the windows at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia balance with the candelight quality of the wall sconces. The eggshell luster of the stone floors and the warm honeyed benches invite travelling spirits to gather. I'd love to have a time-lapse photo to watch cycles of days when folks sit on the benches. They place themselves always to give everyone the greatest space. Usually they are travellers, but sometimes they are awaiting a reunion with an arriving passenger. Maybe there are a few, like me, listening to the place itself, and watching its daily drama.

The first time I was there it was to pick someone up, and I remember eagerly waiting at the top of the stairs in a very bright purple business suit. I've joined fellow travellers there and collected ice cream and goodies to take along for a picnic on the train. I've watched exuberant reunions. I've met people for lunch or supper and taken sandwiches to the benches near the SEPTA tracks to eat and watch the trains and passersby. I've arrived there in frightening blizzards when stranded passengers were bedding down across the floors, appreciating the shelter they would have for the night. I've gone to pick up a friend who had fallen on the stairs there and gotten just a little scraped up. Gone with hot tea in a travel mug to make it better. I've been there in the very early morning hours when the security guards were gently urging the homeless to be on their way. And, I've gone there thinking I was meeting for dinner and had my own personal train wreck unfold instead.

Simple life things have happened there, yet the place seems built for an elegance and grace quite apart from we simple folk in this era. Perhaps the travelling spirits can see it as comedy that we dash in with our roll-aboard bags and snatch our tickets from the Quik-trac machines and fly down the escalators to board the trains.

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