On the Nature of the NYC Subway System


When I walk in he's already there. He's blond and wears all black, carries a sturdy yet battered backpack on one shoulder. We accidentally make eye contact when I take my scarf off and shake my hair out: his eyes are very blue, I notice, before he looks away, hair hanging on his face. 

And then, producing a music sheet from his backpack, he tosses my existence aside and gets lost in his own universe. 

I am enthralled by everyone who rides the subway. From the businessmen wearing impeccable suits that are more expensive than my rent, to the baby-faced college girl getting her reading done before class. I have seen Broadway actors, and dancers, and mothers with their children wrapped in too many layers, a meager protection from the biting cold. I have seen sleepy husbands rest their heads against the window as their wives look resolutely ahead, making sure they don't miss their stop. I have seen lovers murmur sweet nothings to each other, their faces inches apart, somehow immune to the shaking and jostling of the subway as the world keeps turning around them. 

Then there's me, a silent spectator to it all. I feel like a voyeur, stealing little looks into scenes I have no right to see. Secretly though, I love it. I switch my grip on the bar and settle in to watch.

The train shakes and plunges on ahead. 

The gorgeous musician from earlier looks up as in a daze as the subway comes to a stop. He doesn't have time to put his music sheet away; he just grabs his backpack and pushes past the people blocking the door, without sparing a glance at me. Shame; I really wanted to see his face one last time. He exits the subway and gets lost in the crowd. 

For my part, I sit down on an empty seat and wait for my stop.