The high arches at Union Station remind me of your time. Those high sweeping cement pilasters a monument to a different era. A time when it seemed people weren’t so uptight and bickering about everything there was to bicker about as we go about our daily lives. This was not a time in which I lived, but it’s one which captivates me. I can hear the notes from the band echoing off of those heavy cement walls. The trumpet, the cello, the saxophone; the jazz. The women with their short bobbed hair and sequined dresses dancing to the bright sounds. The men, cigarettes in hand with a slick suit and tie, standing back. Taking all of it in.
You thrived in this time. Maybe you idealized it for me. You so ironically ennobled for me a time in which you seemed to despise so much. ‘Boats against the current,’ you said of these people, ‘beating on, but borne back ceaselessly into the past.’ Would that you had known today it is your time we wish we would be borne back towards? That it may have only gotten more dismal as the years have passed? That you exited this world right before we found our absolute worst?
We (I?) wish now that we could only be brought back to your time. This time that you were drowning in and so disillusioned by. This time that crushed even a dreamer like your Jay. If a time like this, after the boom of a roaring decade, could not bring hope to you, what should? You: The dreamer. The idealist. All this must have just been a facade to you. All this concluding with Jay’s dreams brought silent by a gunshot in a swimming pool. But you should have seen that if you could have lived nine more decades, that the boat would have been borne back into your own time.
Why was your present so hard for you? I wonder what you would think of me far further down the dark road that you saw yourself upon. What land might you have seen New York now? Originally the green and empty canvas to the generations before you, but in its heyday you saw already in shambles. I wonder what you would have thought of the smoke rising from lower Manhattan in the early years of the new century, but also what you would have thought of the bright pillars of light that rose only days after. Maybe there’s tragedy and hope in every generation. Maybe I’ll just sit in Union Station and dream about your jazz the same as you sat there dreaming about something else you found better; and while we were dreaming, other stuff was happening – not all good, not all bad.. Maybe there really is nothing new under the sun.