I rode the subway today.
People kept getting on & off & on & off. They became less and less real the more of them there were. At first I watched them, individuals living their lives. The subway was just a tool for them, a way to get from here to there or back. A to B. L to M. Y to Z. Eventually they became too much to remember or think about so I let them blur together, just disappear into a fuzzy mess/mass of humanity. I began to feel like a fixture of the subway car itself, as much as the poles being gripped tight in sweaty fists, the hard seats under soft bottoms.
The pressure from all the ground above my head was crushing me.
Fluorescent lighting, a fleeting glimpse of sun. I was on another planet. Or traveling to one. I knew if I stepped off the train I would suffocate & die. The air out there was toxic to me now, after a whole life spent in this, underground. Too much fresh & blue, my lungs had gotten used to dark & heavy.
I rode the subway until I forgot getting off was an option. I felt like with each additional stop I was becoming something more than I had been in the beginning, a metamorphosis of purpose & being. It was good, it was necessary.
Until it wasn’t. Overwhelming.
I longed for something more than what I was experiencing around me. I was tired of the constant motion, sick with it. I was unbelievably weary of always going going going and never arriving. In the subway, you’re never in one place, you’re in all the places you could be traveling to. You are a you in motion, there’s no stillness possible in their design, no cohesion, no finality.
Being hurtled from station to station was draining me, was robbing me of my normally pleasant and unassuming demeanor. I wanted to shout aloud about constancy and regret and how we never can quite pin anything down, can we, how everything must remain mutable to survive, and if we’re too sure about what’s happening around us we’re lying to ourselves. How, even if we stop at the same station on the way back, it’s no longer the same stop, it’s entirely different, it’s changed, we’ve changed, in the interim between being there Before & being here Now.
I settled for changing my seat to one on the opposite end of the car, shake it up! shake it up! smoothly avoiding one of the blurs asking me about time. Time! The very last thing I wanted to be talking to strangers about, thank you. Especially a stranger with no face or future.
I settled into this new seat, the adjusted perspective doing nothing Good for my frame of mind. I sunk into myself, going deeper and deeper into a state of quiet Frenzy & perhaps, Desperation. It was while in this funk, this semi-catatonic oblivion that I heard of my impending destruction & salvation. The automated robotic voice who had been my one friend, my constant companion, called out an end to my travels.
Last Stop of the Night.
I felt betrayal & fear unlike any I had ever known when those doors opened.
& stepping out into the dark, a rush- pure, sublime, exquisite bravery & an unbreakable solidity of purpose.
At last, at long last,