Monday, July 27, 2009

things that happen in subways

Sitting and counting the names of subways while on a subway line, late at night I looked up to the discovery that I was the only one in the car. Peering through first one end window into the following car and then the other end window into the preceding car I determined I was the only one in three consecutive cars. Where else did this solitude extend? Could I be the only passenger in this worm-like metal beast? And if so, in this rare occurrence was some strange mantle passed to me?

What could happen in a subway with me the sole, lone passenger - what strange magic ekes its way from the subterrain and slithers shadowlike to me, with no other bright presence to distract it? For a moment I stood in indecision, a country full of contrary borders, before deciding to test the magic of the moment: I jumped, and didn't land.

In the subway line that was all my own in that instant I had no gravity to bound me and floated blissful through the shrieking air of the subway car, gripping the vertical bars and running my hands along the bright advertisements lining the tops of the subway walls. To go swimming through subway air! What a feat. I backpaddled and backflipped and backflopped until my encroaching stop was announced, an artificial voice carefully modulated repeating, "Downsview, Downsview subway station." Such disappointment! I hovered mid-air wondering desperately to myself what this arrival meant.

Always we are going places, leaving places, always we are departing. There are shores in each life, careful demarcations: lines we have drawn and lines we have crossed. Solitude means weightlessness, wonder, a type of wild joy.

These are the things that happen to me in subways:

- a man sits next to me and leans in close
- a man sits across from me and slurs, blurs his speech and gaze, yells
- a man stands in front of me so to stand I brush against him
- a man walks across from me and doesn't notice me at all
- a woman is crying and I see but don't offer comfort
- the dark shows my reflection in the window like a mirror, or a second face
- the subway screams and groans
- the subway stops mid-station, stutters and re-starts
- sometimes I am afraid
- sometimes I am comforted
- sometimes the distances of here to there are swallowed up and time fades into inconsequentiality and I surrender to momentum
- I step out, and step out, and am always stepping out, of this thing that moves me: and leave my surrender behind like the shell of a shed exoskeleton, husk drying in the winds of speed

1 comment:

denielle said...

this is really beautiful, petra