Standing on the platform, I hear the screeching of metal before I see lights growing brighter as the train rolls closer. A gust of wind accompanies the rumbling floor, blowing off hats and scaring people behind the yellow line. Crowds estimate with precision where the doors will open, for routine is a part of life. We part like the red sea, allowing passengers to disembark. We must hurry aboard before a ding-dong signals the sea coming to swallow us up and rush us away.
Amid the tossing and turning of an unstable car, I can hear snippets of conversations: co-workers discussing their day, parents screaming at their children in foreign languages, teenagers sharing the latest gossip while fruitlessly attempting to get a cellphone signal. Black wires serve as my modern necklace, connecting my ears to my hands. The pumping bass tunes out those awkward sexual history conversations from people who have yet to learn about subway etiquette.
I hold on for dear life as we twist and turn. My feet are planted solidly on the ground, shifting slightly with every tiny change. After months of a twice daily commute, all the quirks of my travel are known to me like the back of my hand: where to walk and to sit, where to enter and to exit. On the subway I can observe, ignore, converse or be silent. The familiarity yet newness of these trips bring me comfort.
The low voice of a woman reminds me that my trip is ending and once this metal boat stops rolling, I must disembark once more.
written July 16th 2011