Sunday March 25. 2001
The view from the top of the terminal was quite nice, even though the day was gray and cloudy and cool. I looked out past Coney Island. The rides in the amusement park were painted like bright pieces of candy standing out against the murky blue of the Atlantic Ocean.
I saw the next D train coming around the bend into the terminal, so I walked down the stairs to wait for its arrival. I took some more pictures of the Ferris wheel.
A maintenance guy noticed me. As I passed him, he nodded in my direction. "You a tourist?"
I smiled. "Not really, I'm just taking pictures. It's kind of my therapy, you know, riding trains."
He looked perplexed. "Is it for school? You in college?"
"No...just for me."
He continued sweeping the dirty concrete. "Is there a lucky man in your life?" he suddenly asked.
I smiled inwardly. "Yeah."
"Are you happy?"
The question stopped me. Was I was happy?
I had been thinking about this very question for several weeks now, and still had no clear cut answer. I was happy now, right at this moment, camera in hand, on this cold subway platform in south Brooklyn on the twenty-fourth day of March, the year 2001. But that was all.
"Yes. I'm happy." Right now, I wanted to add. But I'm sure this guy didn't want to hear all my problems.
"Well, have a good day."
I stepped quickly onto the nearly empty D train and took a seat, sitting my laptop on my knees.
I am riding on the subway. I feel dark and closed. Black clack clack clack exacerbates my headache. I emerge from underground, where I am met by a rush of sound from an overhead jet. The white cloudy light pounds my eyelids relentlessly. I think, this is what it must be like to be born.
I woke with a start at 125th street. The hispanic guy who had been sitting next to me had now moved across the car, and a blonde woman who smelled bad had replaced him. The last station I remembered was 59th. I did a quick check - my laptop was still safely tucked in its bag and wedged into my lap, my purse squished beneath it.
The D line was generally unimpressive. After the intial interest of Coney Island, it meandered slowly through Brooklyn, passing neatly kept rowhouses, up through Manhattan and to the top of the Bronx, where I was finally deposited at the end ofthe line. The 205th street station had stalactites of grime dripping from the ceiling and the dirty white tile was missing in large patches.
I think I've been watching way too much Oprah. I look forward to 4 pm every weekday with a certain perverse pleasure, to watch the parade of unhappy, unfulfilled, suppressed people, and to smugly think that I am not like them and never will be...only I realized that, for the most part, I am.
I sat in a Starbucks at 70th street for about two hours, just writing. I had walked down the street with a splitting headache, words pounding against my head, words that had to get out. I wrote, and wrote, and by the time two hours had passed the headache was out of my head and onto the paper.
I feel like a tourist whenever I ride subways in New York. I move with the crowds of people, walking through the passages, up and down dirty stairs, past the guitar players and violinists and ghetto boys banging on plastic buckets. They all have places to go and things to do, but I am a tourist. I am going nowhere. I listen to their conversations with envy, and I create senarios for myself. I live in Brooklyn. I live in the Bronx. I'm going to see a friend in Jackson Heights. I'm doing some shopping in the Village. Wishing away my real life, wishing to disappear in these crowds.
So now tonight, I have to try to repair the damage I feel that I've done to us. I feel like we're slightly broken - I feel like I'm slightly broken. I need to be repaired, and I thought that was something he could do. I say, "I need some healing" and he holds me when I cry and at the end of the weekend I wonder why I don't really feel any better. It's because I have to repair myself. I have to fix what's wrong with me, and no one else.
It's a strange sort of therapy, riding subways. I finally ended my long journey at the Port Authority. Got off the A train, ran ran ran up the ramp, into the north wing and then the south wing, where he was waiting near the Hudson News stand. We embraced. My thoughts and my mouth felt frozen. There is no neat ending for me. I wish there were. Just an ebb and flow, rise and fall. I keep trying.
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One Year Ago:
"I finally got rid of the "must go out on Friday night" bug and am happy at home alone in my room, eating a pizza, listening to NPR and thinking deep, cerebral thoughts."