Monday, June 18, 2012
If you find yourself in a room of fairly artistic, fairly educated, fairly well traveled young women, the odds are good that at least three of you will be able to say you shared the unique experience of crying on the New York Subway system. An experience that is unique not because of the crying (that is fairly standard in the life of artistic, educated young women), but because you can be sitting there in a full car, on those hard plastic seats, your nose full on Rudolph, with tears welling up in your big bright eyes, and little whimpers of snot falling down your face and NO ONE WILL EVEN LOOK AT YOU. That doesn't happen...anywhere. I've cried in Chicago and had someone ask me if I was okay. In Cleveland, jesus, you can't go more than two feet. I'll be honest, I think I prefer the ignoring. I think it's courteous.
I think the best part of the subway is its utter lack of concern if you make a connection with another human being or not. Coming from the bread basket of American sentimentality, where even in a city of hundreds of thousands you will reliably run into the same people over and over again who will ask you how you are, how's the boyfriend, here's a new picture of my kid, let me tell you about my promotion GOD it's nice to be truly alone while surrounded by a sea of humanity. Because I feel safe in the sea, like any good school fish I want to be one of many many many. But having to listen to all those fish make chit chat all day long, the entire length of their same old 24 hour current, it's evil, it breeds ill-deserved irrational overreactive thoughts of fiery revenge. Better to have no knowledge of your comrades, or really really deep knowledge of them, than this shallow just-enough-to-make-you-hate-them knowledge, which is a Midwest specialty.
The hotel we stayed at was very far away from Brooklyn, and since we are under 40, we spent most of our time in Brooklyn. So that meant not only a lot of subway riding, but a lot of subway riding from the very far away beginnings of the lines (or ends, depending on your loyalties). The lines stretched like prehistoric worm tracks burrowing deep into the city, like they had always been there and would never leave, existed as organically as our veins. They were scarier, wilder, on the outskirts. No people around to tell you if you were on the right platform. Nothing but weeds and curvy broken brick walls.
Then when you made it into the heart of the system, there were trains every five minutes, three minutes, two minutes. It made me feel safe and warm, that no matter if I did mess up and get on the 4 express instead of the 6 local, I could get back within a matter of minutes, be back on track instantly, just a small delay and in this city where everything took 2 hours instead of twenty minutes, what were 10 more minutes? The buses felt like traps, I could end up the middle of nowhere. But the subway represented solid safety nets. There was always a subway.
And while there were poets and preachers and mothers holding babies babbling in tongues with signs that asked for rent money, all screaming at me in my safe subway car full of uncaring stone faces, they were aberrations, monstrosities to be ignored in the face of such beauty, the Constant and Eternal Moving.
I live a good portion of my late nights needing something horribly expensive to happen to me. I live my days needing the world to pretend there is no such thing as money.
Two things happened this week: Carey and I recorded our first episode of The Awkward Sex Show, and I made you a T-shirt.
Posted by Bridget Callahan at 12:04 AM