I went down to New York City and Bryant Park this past weekend so that I could take street photos. That’s something I’ve written about before but this is the first time this year I’ve gotten to do it. It’s a warm weather thing so I don’t make it down in the winter. The last time I was in the city was the end of September and it’s now the middle of May. I’ve shot street photos in April before but not this year. I think it might have been warm enough on one April Saturday but I can’t quite remember. All I can recall is that there were a couple of Saturdays over the last few weeks that I wanted to go but but weather or lethargy kept me from going. If I could blink and be in Bryant Park I’d go there all the time but since it’s an hour and a half trip by public transportation I’m not always up for the going.

It was an old school sort of train trip for me this time. Back in my days of taking the bus into the city I used to always have my Walkman with me. A portable cassette player of the kind we all carried in the 1980s and into the 1990s. That’s what got me through my bus trips. Listening to music. I always bought a good set of headphones rather than use the ones that came with the player because I wanted comfort and good sound. Those old orange cushioned headphones were not that. As the 1990s passed I got a portable CD player but I still liked the cassette player too. In the early 2000s, though I still listened to music on CDs, I bought a new portable caste player that could also record sound. I bought it to carry around and record sounds that I would then digitize on use on my computer. I still have that cassette player even if I don’t use it any more. Sometime around 2005 I bought and iPod shuffle and the mp3 player became my main source of music on the bus.

I mention all this because I no longer have a main source for music on the bus. Due to changes in public transport and my no longer commuting regularly I take a train in when I go into NYC. For some reason I haven’t listened to music much on the train. I’m not even sure why but I think it’s for a few reasons. The bus was a straight shot into the city. I’d get on and not get off until the last stop at the Port Authority Bus Station. There was no reason to pay attention to the ride so I’d put on my headphones and tune out. Often I’d even fall asleep. With the train I have to get off after about forty minutes at Secaucus Junction and catch a second train into the city. Plus a ticket taker has to come around and punch my ticket. I can’t just zone out like I do on the bus.

The second reason is that I want to travel light. Since I’ll be walking around the city four about five hours I don’t want to be weighed down by a music player and headphones. Sure they’re not that much weight but it’s still easier to not bring them. Plus I prefer the larger over-the-ear headphones to the smaller earbuds so they can take up a bit of room in a bag. I’ve tried bringing my earbuds but they eventually hurt my ears and it doesn’t seem worth it. So I’ve only listened to music a few times on the train.

What I did most of the time last year was read a magazine. I saved a magazine I have a subscription to called The Sun specifically to read on the train. That worked well. I enjoyed reading it as I rode the train. But this time I had already finished reading the magazine by the time I finally decided to head down to the city. That morning I was looking around for thing to read. I have lots to read but I didn’t want to carry it around all day. I’ve brought my iPad with me before thinking I could use it to shoot video or edit photos on but I never did. I was usually too busy with my camera to bother taking out the iPad. I did read some stuff on it during the ride though. That hardly seemed a good enough reason to lug it around. If I wasn’t going to use it as a tool I wasn’t going to bring it. So I haven’t brought it in a while. I briefly thought about reading on my iPod but it’s so small that reading on it seemed to annoy me more than entertain me. I also didn’t want to carry any real books or comics because of the weight.

In the end I brought my iPod (I was going to listen to music in the car on the way to the train anyway) and tucked my noise-cancelling earbuds into my bag. I figured I’d listen if the mood struck me. It never did. Instead I looked out the window and thought. I don’t even remember what I thought about but it was a pleasant and sunny morning so my thoughts were light and airy as the trip went on. I momentarily entertained the idea of playing a game on my iPod but the thought was fleeting as I wasn’t in the mood. The trip was nice enough and I made it to the city and took some pictures. I also, by chance, ran into a friend who I hadn’t seen since High School in 1984. That’ll get the mind pondering the world and its mysteries.

I caught the train back at the end of the day and continued my looking out the window, watching the scenery go by, and thinking my thoughts. It was a fairly empty train with only about ten or fifteen of us in the whole car. I couldn’t really see what anyone was doing but I did look over and see one woman looking at the screen of her phone. Somehow that made me glad I wasn’t looking at a screen. As I take street photos I take a lot of pictures of people looking at little screens. It’s just what people do these days. I can remember when cell phones first became big and people were always talking on them as they walked. Now that almost never happens. Everybody is looking at their phones. Except me. I was old school and looking at the scenery.