Hal Wastes His Wages The Center of the World

As the steamy brick oven that is Hoboken in July baked at 95 degrees, a cool breeze was kind enough to make its way upriver and ventilate the lonely little pier jutting out from Sinatra Drive. At its entrance, a dutiful Hispanic woman begrudgingly stands at her post with a Sabrett cart.

Any other day, this spot would be a pushcart’s bonanza, serving as the only source for provisions on this commercially isolated but well-traveled strip along the west bank of the Hudson. But aside from a few intrepid souls at the skate park and some Croc-clad clown in a boonie hat pushing a stroller, the heat keeps the otherwise steady stream of patrons away.

That clown in the boonie hat is none other than yours truly, standing at the helm of my boy’s vessel with its sail-like canvas shade unfurled. We enjoy watching the numerous forms of traffic along the Hudson River – at least I enjoy watching it, and thankfully for now, the boy is far too young to formulate the words “Daddy, I’m bored.” We sit for a timeless stretch and stare at the ferries, barges, tugs, fishing boats, sailboats, pleasure yachts, jet skis and kayaks. As all these crafts slog their way in, out or around the harbor, a solitary cormorant casually skims across the water from New Jersey to New York in no more than 15 seconds, and I wonder if he has any appreciation for the amount of effort his human counterparts put into such a commute.

Directly across the river, I have the perfect view of perfect views. The pier sits dead even with a corner of the Empire State Building as its shimmering sibling, the Chrysler Building, stands off to the left. A slight bend in the river positions the pier such that the George Washington to the north and the Verrazano Bridge to the south are in full view, and I can’t help but get an egocentric feeling that I’m standing at the center of the world. To my left and beyond the GWB are The Adirondacks – where I was born; The Erie Canal – where I was raised, and the rest of North America.

To my right the Verrazano looms as a gateway to the rest of the world.

Then I look down and I see my son. I’m convinced he has grown in the mere moments while we’ve sat here. I wonder which direction he’ll go, as it’s all laid out right there in front of him for the taking.

I wonder what he’ll make of this scene when he’s old enough to appreciate it. I wonder if he’ll appreciate it at all, or if he’ll just take it for granted as I did the various vistas of my youth.

Christopher M. Halleron, freelance writer/bitter bartender, writes a biweekly column for The Hudson Current and websites in the New York Metro area. He spends a lot of his time either in front of or behind the bar in Hoboken, New Jersey where his tolerance for liquor grows stronger as his tolerance for society is eroded on a daily basis. Feel free to drop him a line at c_halleron@yahoo.com.


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