Last Stop – North Fork
By Colette Sewall
After you linger too long on your mother’s gray, cracked Philadelphia stoop, whispering
your goodbyes, don’t rely on your rental car‘s GPS to get you safely to the Amtrak
Station at Market Street. Instead it will deliver you to an abandoned, desolate shipyard,
down by the Delaware River. Don’t waste any more time arguing with your husband.
Just get on with it. Pull out an old paper map and figure it out. You’ll make your 12:00
train to Penn Station with even enough time to buy a pretzel.
One hour and a half later when you arrive in New York City, grab a slice of pizza for
ninety-nine cents at the corner of Forty-Fourth and Third while you wait for the 2:00
bus to the North Fork. Make sure to get the window seat and then lean back. Watch the
passing scenery. Allow your thoughts to drift to times and places that whiz by your
window – even if for only a brief moment in time.
Departure – Manhattan, New York – Your birthplace.
First stop – age 2 – Astoria, Queens – Your childhood home. Stay for 18 years. Melt
crayons into bottle caps and collect broken pieces of white chalk. Play skully and
hopscotch on sidewalks – handball in the alleyways. When your moment of triumph
arrives, raise your arms high and at the top of your lungs scream, “Ally ally income free!”
Watch as the neighborhood children scatter with glee, and then quickly disappear.
Next stop – age 20 – Forest Hill, Queens – Your first apartment. Water bugs the size of
golf balls. Buy furniture that is full of beans. Fall in love and learn to live with someone
who will go for days without speaking. Then fall out of love.
Next stop – age 26 -Dix Hills, Suffolk County – Whatever you do, don’t get off here. You
will buy a huge house with the non-speaker that you should never buy. You will spend a
year filling every room with furniture, then you will move out and leave him to his own
Next stop age – 27 -Shirley, Suffolk County – Stay put in your bus seat. Otherwise you
will buy a Lilliputian sized house and paint the doorway a cherry red. It will attract a
man you will make the mistake of marrying. Then you will outgrow the house and
eventually each other.
Just drink your bottle of water and eat your complimentary packet of cheesy gold fish
while you pass the time. It doesn’t seem like it now, but this road will eventually come to
an end. Soon you will be crossing the border of your past to your present. The total
distance is about 80 miles; it will take 40 years.
At routes 105 and 25, the skies will open up. It is here where you will find your secret
entrance to Brigadoon, your Lost Horizon, your Cockaigne – the land where cheese rains
from the skies.
Trees will blossom and the path before you will twinkle with sunlight as you travel
beneath a lacy archway of overhanging leaves. Puppies will dance in the window to your
right; baby goats will make cheese through your window to the left. Farms will give
views to the bay.
Steeples will chime hymns and ring in the hours as time spins backwards at the snack
bar that was once modern – the last time Brigadoon appeared. You will wait patiently as
minutes pass, or maybe years, while your husband chooses between apple and chocolate
In the evening you will dance through fields of wine with the one who will always love
you. The grapes will sweeten with time.
Once you cross over here, you will never need a GPS. You will never feel lost. You are
Next stop – North Fork -Jamesport, Suffolk County – Get off here. Definitely get off here.