Rails, Lines and Urban Living-Subway Edition (Vol. One)
More change has happened since my last post. I am newly engaged. That man in my last story, that carried me to the train? He’s going to be my husband.
It’s pretty damn exciting and life has been really, really good.
I’m slowly adjusting to New York City. I spent the first couple of months trying not to get lost, in a daily, semi-panic that the newness of this massive place inflicts on you. So, the writer in me didn’t observe and relish all the delicious characters that had been laid out to develop and absorb. The people all seemed to have the same faces, and each street felt like the one before because I wasn’t paying attention.
Time has passed, and I am easing into a moderate comfort level in moving around the city. For the most part, I only get lost half of the time now, and it’s much less dramatic than the early days. I have a love-hate relationship with the subway. It is a well-oiled, functioning tube of transportation. It’s easy to understand, relatively safe, and marginally clean.
For the most part, the people follow the rules and go with the flow: let the people out of the train before pushing your way in, stay to the right on the escalators if you’re going to stand, and let the people on the left walk up. Make room, move over and squeeze as many people in as possible and try to be polite. Avoiding eye contact is best, but sometimes you have to look at their eyes. Because they all have a story.
A cloud of desperation and anticipation hangs in the air in and around the subway. Everyone is just trying to keep it together while being smashed like sardines in a can. The single mothers, dragging their kids around, the yuppies in their suits checking their email, the senior citizens holding onto their bags of groceries; all essentially trapped together, racing through a tunnel to get to where they need to go.
There is absolutely no privacy on the subway or on the streets. You are inches from stranger’s faces. You breathe in the exhales of coffee breath or a garlic-filled lunch, smell the body odor of the non-showered, and virtually taste the perfume of overtly saturated women.
There are no private conversations. Fighting and couples breaking up in public is a common occurrence. Business deals, first dates, parenting strategies, they all happen on the subway. Bring your headphones, or you will be an involved witness to this narration of life you did not even know existed.
But I think that this is all part of the rush of living in New York City and why people love it. The excitement, the anxiety, the energy, it’s the constant entanglement that keeps you going. You never know who is going to sit next to you or what part of your history they will be in your memory. They have a story, you have a story. You are all intertwined in each other’s lives for brief moments while speeding through time and passageways, waiting for the doors to open and continue on with your day.