The last train to Philadelphia is preceded by endless Penn Station corridors and waiting spaces, the exile of the early passenger. Two in the morning is no different from two in the afternoon here, just the faces change. A man in a tan suit and gold cufflinks is sprawled on the station floor, next to a map of the Long Island Railroad system. His head is folded into his chest in such a way that looking from the front he appears to have no neck.

His shoes look expensive, but surely real gold would have long since been surreptitiously freed from his person while he slept so maybe the shoes are fakes also. Maura and I walk past to the bakery nearby, which happens to be open, so I buy a cup of coffee and a muffin. We talk about nothing and she puts her head on my shoulder, after asking first if that was OK.

The city above is equally as complex as the corridors below, particularly the ones lining Penn Station now that construction is underway and half of everything is either walled in with giant plywood barriers covered in "PARDON OUR DUST" signage, or closed outright, a small note neatly tacked up explaining in simple terms how much better things will be when it's all complete. "This will only sting for a little bit," the doctor says, except in this case the little bit has dragged on to many months with no end in sight.

Somewhere in the city, in a Village bar, there are people enjoying shots of a more pleasant nature, their sting hardly noticed. Before I left the party for the train station, the room was full of revelers, merry-makers, smoking, drinking, laughing, talking. By one of the pinball machines - Mediaeval Madness - one of the players takes his cigarette out of his mouth and sets it above and between the flipper fingers, in the cradle made by the incline of the glass covering the field of play and the metal rim that holds the glass onto the machine.

He leans back so that the small of his back is the peak of an obtuse triangle, his hands and his feet forming two vertices, and begins to play, rocking the table from side to side when it is advantageous to his game. Only now does it strike me how vicious a stance that was for such a simple game. Later, as the train rolls through the night, I will write in my notebook that I came to new York City today and am now leaving, changed perhaps slightly in a way even I can't know about.