Last Friday night I missed the 9:05 train from Grand Central Terminal to Poughkeepsie by two minutes. I looked around for a place to sit down – no help from the Information Booth at that hour of the night to ask if there was a waiting room for ticketed passengers. Grand Central Terminal is one of my most favorite spots on the planet and I’ve spent many hours there over the years, coming, going, meeting friends for dinner, resting after classes, browsing the shops. The old ‘ticketed passenger waiting area’ had been replaced with an enterprising cafe or bar, and I realized finding a comfortable and free place to sit would be difficult it not impossible. I sauntered into the main entrance hall (which used to be the original waiting room filled with row upon row of bentwood wood benches), and after some debate with myself, I decided to ignore both the barriers marking the main entrance to the ticketing terminal and the NY City Policeman sitting at the far end totally engrossed in conversation on his cell phone, and I proceeded to make myself comfortable on one of the few antique benches which have been left intact around the edges of the very large marble-floored hall.
Confident that the policeman did not deem to evict me, I pulled from my bag Spring 2008 issue of Surface Design Association Journal which I’d been given at the SDA lecture I had attended earlier in the evening. I began turning the pages, enjoying myself thoroughly and feeling very lucky indeed to have garnered a comfortable spot for my, by now, 45 minute wait for the 10:05 train departure…when suddenly, with a start and accompanying goosebumps, I realized that I was looking at a photograph of the very same room in which I found myself presently sitting….the main waiting room of the Grand Central Terminal! The journal issue focused on floor art and the photo showed a carpet installation by Rudolf Stingel, “Plan B,” in July 2004 – blue and pink cabbage roses adorned and obscured the original antique marble floor.
I hastened to get my pocket camera out and took a shot of the magazine against the backdrop of the huge hall so I could keep this moment for posterity. There is no way to calculate the odds of this kind of experience and I am still in awe of the coincidence, a singular experience, indeed.