I hear the horns of ships often, because these waterways are part of a working system. But tonight I thought, What IF...??? - and grabbed my camera. I charged up through the trapdoor to the roof, and was held breathless for a moment by the site of two ships.
Yes! It was them. The Queen Mary 2 AND the QE2. Beside each other, in a froth of foaming water from a fireboat. The Queen Mary was just allowing the Queen Elizabeth 2 to pass her, and sounding her even deeper horn: No, please, you first...The larger acknowledging the smaller, which was also the greater.
I started to cry.
It is the last time the QE2 will be in these waters.
These are very bad pictures. It is the first time in my life that I have wanted a real camera with a real lense and a tripod. I love my little Canon but it wasn't up to it. If Vince had been here you would have seen some real pictures.
They were far away, the light was low.
And nothing in the pictures can capture what it felt like to stand alone on the roof in the wind, and look out at the water, where these two beautiful, engineered creatures were heading out to sea, down one of the most fabled rivers in history.
And knowing that the QE2 would never be back. That she is going to be a hotel in Dubai, sans seven story smokestack. It is her final voyage, and why that should make me sad is the old mystery of why we love what we do, and what we find beautiful...
The passengers on a couple of Staten Island ferries must have had the view of a lifetime.
Some years ago I met my parents somewhere on a pier on the Upper West Side after they had disembarked from the Queen Mary, on her second voyage, I think. She was like a mountain, at the dock. But I find the older ship's lines, now that I have seen her, more beautiful, more shiplike.
A fireboat was having an apoplectic fit, showering red white and blue jets in arching streams. It followed them as far as I could see, past Governor's Island, over which I could still see the smoke stack of the QE2 and the Queen Mary's upper decks.
There she goes. The fireboat still showering madly. I would have liked to have been on board.
No one else was out on the rooves, and I was sorry. It is one of those things, and feelings, I will never forget.
We got up late, and went after bathings and shavings to the Lounge, where we sat in soft chairs by the glass wall and looked out past people sunning themselves to the blue water. We drank champagne or sometimes beer, slowly, and talked and talked to each other because there was so much to say and so little time to say it.
And before dinner we drank more champagne, watching the sun set through the thick glass walls, and after dinner, which we sometimes ordered at noon to please our waiter who was convinced we were starving to death, we drank still more, or sometimes cognac. Then we went to bed again, and two or three times in the night we would start talking, and eat a few of the little sandwiches the worried waiter sent down to us, and drink some hot consomme or more brandy.
Even when New York loomed near us, we felt outward bound. I bit gently at my numb fingers. I seemed beautiful, witty, truly loved...the most fortunate of women, past sea change and with her hungers fed.
MFK Fisher: "Sea Change, 1937-1939", from The Gastronomical Me