I’ve looked at clouds…

from both sides now.

Water from the lowest end of the Hudson River is both a blessing and a curse for the tiny, square-mile city of Hoboken, New Jersey. They’ve invested endless tax dollars building and maintaining one of the most beautiful riverfronts in the Northeast, and it is truly a blessing. Despite any criticism you can have of the place, the waterfront compensates for a multitude of faults. No matter the time of day or night it feels like a haven. A safe place. Emphasis on feels like. I won’t recommend that anybody walks around alone at night in any city anywhere in the world, despite the spectacular view. It is beautiful here though and it feels like being at the crossroads of the past and the future, eons of dreams flowing down from the Catskills above, and centuries of aspirations flowing into the harbor on the tidal bore from below. This part of the river is where millions of immigrants first experienced America. Hoboken can often be found in regular celebrations of those immigrants… Saint Patrick’s Day just passed, for example, though as Shane MacGowan once said, “Where’ere we go we celebrate the land that made us refugees.”

There are dark truths behind every fantasy. It’s not always black and white and light and dark like the photo. Hoboken itself has a relationship with the river and with water that isn’t exactly black and white. The same river and the same water that gives them this beauty is the same that floods them regularly and often even in light rain if the tide is in the right part of the cycle. It’s a constant struggle with this same muddy water. There’s a sad irony there, but the wee town has developed this semi-functional relationship with it, balancing the fantasy and fantastic with the cold and dank. It’s not in any way a platonic relationship. In fact it’s a profound intimacy. They are continually wrestling with each other and the winner changes on any given day.

Yesterday, Hoboken won. It did rain hard last night though, so it’s hard to say how the balance shifted overnight. I don’t know. If I actually lived there I wonder how I would feel watching dark clouds gather. For me, it’s just shoot a photo and go home to the high and dry.


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