Last night, when I reached the top floor of the Alewife garage, I walked over to the rail and looked back down into the station through the enormous skylight. I watched the small cadre of girl scouts pushing cookies at the base of the escalator, and the commuters rushing past them, afraid to look lest they betray that they really did have the $4.00 and were sorely tempted by the prospect of owning a box of Thin Mints. Their advance and retreat was the same flow of movement past the woman who urges us all to smile while she twirls away with her copies of Spare Change Newspaper.
This wasn't what I had come to the edge to see, however. Soon enough, I let my focus drift above this steady movement, and my eyes ran along the cracks in the glass panels that make up the half-pyramid that shelters the station floor. Each one is a stress fracture, caused by age and the sheer weight of the structure. It's just as I'm contemplating the work that would be necessary to repair the damage that it hits me. I was expecting it. It is beautiful and terrifying, and it leaves me feeling as though I have been standing at the edge of colliding universes.
My thinking is at its most visual when I perceive danger. It's not necessary that there be actual danger, just that there be possibility. Possibility begets concept, and concept breeds an array of images that rush into my thoughts with such force that I can feel quite dizzy. That night, standing at the edge and looking down from the cold dark roof at the movement below the glass, I could see myself falling. Thousands of scenarios ran through my head in a bare moment, looking less like a film montage than simply echoing the shards of glass the exploded from the panels as I fell through.
My reverie ended with an image of clutching onto one of the roof supports, terrified that I wouldn't be able to hold on because of the injuries I had suffered just falling there. I didn't want to see if I would be rescued. Feeling a touch of vertigo, I knew I was done, just as I knew that I had gleaned all the experience I could from that spot. I stepped back, closed my eyes to calm myself, and then turned to walk to my car.