Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Private Thoughts

Waiting for the subway has never been comfortable for me. Just looking around, I see the crumbling city; Here is a shambling husk of what most likely used to be successful young man, tugging the sleeves of his former peers and pleading for a few metallic clumps of sustenance; Here is a cracked wall, once resplendent in the collected art of the city and now marred by peeling paint and the tags of some gang or another; And here is me, thinking myself separate from all this degradation and decay. I would laugh at it all, but then I would probably realize which of these examples is responsible for this deterioration. I would realize what cracked this concrete, what bred the rats crawling in the corners, and what forced the poor and disabled into this second-class citizen existence.

So I'm uncomfortable in that lull, in those subterranean catacombs which only exist to get me somewhere else faster, to keep me moving and my mind in a blur. The city is a drug and I take it so I don't have to notice all of the walking tragedies around me. My day begins and ends without me having to think about anything more complex than maybe a bit of math involving my work and who's the band that will be showing in my favorite nightclub. Maybe I'll have to worry about my job sometime soon, but that's for some future day that doesn't exist to me right now. That's how it works, and that's how I like it. My day would be perfect, except for those little moments in time that seem to infinitely divisible by the time wasted by whatever method of passing the time I can think up.

It's not as bad when I'm actually riding the subway, because then I can simply let my mind drift and think about the people who built the tunnels around me. Then, I can look at my lap and blast whatever noise I want into my ears instead of watching the descendant of those great builders who made this city as he begs for change. I've perfected the technique; It's almost like portable complete sensory deprivation. Funny that the most trance-like part of the day is when I'm least introspective. Or extrospective. I knew it was a good choice to take those meditation lessons. I'll have to thank whoever suggested that to me later. I'm sure I'll figure out who that is later.

There's all this civic guilt around me, but that's not the worst part of waiting for the train. The people are the problem. I hate them. I fear them. I fear that every one of them will turn on me any second and when I stand here with a newspaper folded under my arm my mind flits through every horror story I saw in the newspaper, online, and on the dreaded idiot box about the brutal and terrible capacity for violence that every one of these creatures must be full of. When this happens, my eyes peer at each one in turn, and I'm fairly sure every one of them around me must think that the creepy, tall young man in the black business suit at the front of the line for the subway is about to explode. Which I might be, because one of them might have stolen my suitcase while I wasn't looking and switched it with one of those horrible explosives that have hit every other city but this one, and isn't it about time?

Uncomfortable, to say the least. I'd like to keep this sort of thing private, but some day there'll be a headline about how some young man had a panic attack and leapt off the station platform in an attempt to get away from some unseen attacker or something. Here's hoping I meet that bomb instead, eh?

There's nothing like having your fears validated.

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