Tag Archives: New York Times

So Brave And New

I left his apartment and it was still drizzling. I looked for a cab, slightly annoyed but determined. Me, the perpetual commuter, always en route: new destination, home base, spontaneous adventure, dutiful visits, home base, next destination, etc.

Spring is playing hard to catch and I’m just sick of it. I march on everyday stubbornly in my colorful palate of spring skirts, jackets and accessories in rebellion of the gloom, rain and cold hoping to seduce the sun. The same time last year, flowers were in full bloom and outdoor patios for bars and restaurants were buzzing with life and excitement for even warmer months ahead. I’m not sure who to blame for this year’s lack of re-birth. The recent tsunamis? The patterns of global earthquakes? Has our atmosphere abandoned celebration of the changing seasons? This concerns me but I am not shaken. I am working on trying not to place blame.

I get into the cab and order them to my neighborhood over the 59th Street Bridge. On little sleep but, satisfied after a long night of fun and conversation, I decided to take this cab ride as a mental prep for the day ahead of me. Another mundane day in this life which has become stagnant but, this day just as any day, could be the beginning of the rest of it all. We cross Times Square and I wince at the thought of rushing back here for my morning meeting in less than two hours. The deli workers and breakfast shops are well into their day, moving effortlessly through the early morning mist. A little Jewish boy adorned with yamaka and all, was blowing bubbles at an intersection. (He might have belonged to one of the deli workers.) After each large bubble he blew he screamed, “GOODBYE, I LOVE YOU!” And repeated this happily. He too, understood transcendence at this early age.

We drive past Will Ryman’s larger than life flower sculptures scattered across Park Avenue uptown and this electrifies me inside. The size and ardor of Ryman’s roses rising into the city fog halted me for a minute and suspended me in my dreamlike state as I was transported between my present and my future in a New York City cab. I tried to roll down the windows and snap a picture but the lights changed and I wished it goodbye and thought, I love you.  I intend to visit these roses again.

Will Ryman Roses Sculpture from Paul Kasmin Gallery Website

Melting back into my thoughts I felt the churning again. For a long time now, I’ve felt a deep, powerful churning within the pit of my stomach that radiated outwards to my bones until my entire body was trembling and begging for metamorphosis. The process continues and the evolution will be steady and paced, I’m sure, but inevitable. This yearning has manifested itself upwards towards my thoughts and outwards in my speech until every action and opinion of mine projected large dosages of transformation unto the world around me; changing my perspectives on routine, hobbies, people, diet, destinations, ideas. A steel rose blossoming from a concrete garden; my world is changing.

I had a nightmare the night before.  I was among my best girlfriends and all of a sudden, as I stood a dumbfounded bystander, a massive assault ensued as each one wielded a weapon and preyed on the next. The victim would die and to my bewilderment, before I could digest the trauma they came back to life and continued to pursue whoever was still standing. Now if you ask them they might find this hysterical coming from my mind that they know so well but, of course to outsiders this insinuates a twisted, violent subconscious at bay. In my defense, after reflecting on it consciously, I realized the randomness of the massacre was formed by my mind trying to grab at anything it could to interpret what lay heavy on my shoulders each day behind layers of distraction: impending change.

“Paleomammalian” – Lost within my own depths. Pastel by Margaret Wang

At this point in our lives, our days were ripe with engagements, weddings, pregnancies and new families. Massive changes were taking place in our midst and as intertwined as our lives were, one friend’s life change affected each of us and we were all moving forward en masse, closing chapters of our friendship behind us and letting us each grow into the next chapter, together. Hence the systematic “killing” of each other and the people we once were, to the reincarnation of each and their newfound paths. This, coupled with my deep sense of unrest confirmed my readiness to tear down all that I knew and rebuild from ashes. Successful change results from sacrificing ways of life you have always known. As a Scorpio and a master of adaptation, I was ready for the challenge. Rise, Phoenix, rise.

"Phoenix" - Reborn from ashes. Pastel by Margaret Wang

After these recent years spent living for reaction, living for someone, living to fall into something whether it be love, wealth, happiness or stardom, I’ve realized with sadness (but empowerment) that these were years lost and along with the years were all the identities I had assumed until now. I am no longer an undergrad, a dancer, a sorority sister, a girlfriend or whatever else I once proclaimed so confidently. But I recognize this as the perfect opportunity for me to shed the shells of these images like old scabs and be reborn in an amplified form of myself. (Recognition is an understated and powerful weapon in life.) For this, I am very excited. Massive, determined action executed with conviction will surely propel me forward. I’ll take any path as long as it’s a new path and I will carry my vulnerabilities within me.

How will I keep composure with my weaknesses embraced, you wonder? I will examine myself closely; physically and psychologically. I will know all of my strengths and shortcomings. I will admit them to the world and be free of judgment and vanity. And if I should waver, I will pray: Dear Lord I pray, these three things you’ll take away, my envy, doubt and fear so I may gain peace and insight here, in the darkness and underwater, to think freely, breathe deeply, walk slowly, live surely again. Amen. Like a house, I will build first then fill the rooms. With the right pieces adorning the insides and outsides, hopefully I will attract the right energies and people who will admire it. If I ask I shall receive, and if I believe my dreams will be conceived.

Looking back, in the darker times of my 26 years, I desperately searched for light, no matter how dull or small the beams were. It wasn’t until I learned (rather recently) that in those times I was the light, filled with light, made of light that I was delivered from my fear and doubt. Life begins again slowly, blossoms surely and everything everywhere now is brand new once more. I got out of the cab and walked up to my apartment. I still need to confirm my 9:15 meeting on this wretched work day. I will lead with my best pedicured foot forward and march towards my deliverance in my finest metallic italian leather stilettos.

Spring Heels. . .blossoming.


The 6 Ave Local

 

"Brand New Leather Jacket"

For My Dear Friends,

To all of you who survive the daily commute of your 9-5 grind with strength and composure, whether by car, bus, trolley or train, if you do not have the opportunity (or misfortune) to commute via the New York City subway system, you have missed out on the following experiences that I, a faithful though bitter, daily customer of the MTA and its orange line have been able to witness first hand within the past 4 days:

MONDAY –
A strange looking, pale as vampire, tall, spindly, Caucasian man sprints to jump on my 8:16 train and consequently gets caught between the doors. Instead of trying to either retrieve himself or thrust himself forward so we may proceed, he HANGS THERE lifeless with his head down, one arm and one leg in the car and the other pair out. He looks up in despair, thrashes about for a minute like a trapped mouse and hangs again as we all watch in befuddlement.

Finally the doors release momentarily and he rushes in, collapses on his hands and knees, sighing, looking as if he had just orgasmed  or escaped a wild boar. He then begins to pace up and down the train car in front of me stumbling left and right from the turbulence as we all hold our knees in, wary that he’s just another nutcase with a contagious disease. Then he whips out a book and as the man next to me leaves, he settles aside me, breathing heavily but reading serenely. Now, whenever anyone reads ANYTHING next to me, I can’t help but read along with them (an annoying social habit of mine). So I glance over and realize…HE IS READING MANDARIN?? What the f*&ck?! Of course, due to what he mistakenly interprets as ‘socialization’ from me, he smiles and leans the book towards me as if encouraging we read together! I give him a ‘what is wrong with you?’ stare and look away, dignified.

THEN, it hits me – he IS a certified nutcase…the mandarin language is read from the back cover to the front cover, and from the right page to the left, the exact opposite of how the western hemisphere reads. And here this oddity was, probably off his medication for days, reading books in mandarin, most likely thinking it was written in Hieroglyphics, clearly ignorant to the fact that he has no idea what he’s reading and feeling morally glorified in sharing it with his oriental co-passenger. In his demented (albeit blissfully ignorant) microcosm, just another wonderful day in the neighborhood.

TUESDAY –
I am late. Again. My hair is wet and I’m dreading my miserable, mundane, hygienically criminal commute. I have my 2 week old trash bag in my hands, running down 5 flights of stairs because my elevator is surprisingly non-functional for the third time in two weeks. I’m flying down floors 5, 4 then. . .BAMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!. I opened the door to the stairwell on floor 3 and run smack dab into my 4″9, 325 lb, 65 yr old widowed neighbor. My trash bag flies out of my hand, leaking putrid-ness on the floor, my face is frozen in mutilated shock, embarrassment and DISGUST, and I creep along the wall praying that I can collect myself to get away fast enough, apologize to her, bend down to collect my bag of amoeba-fied waste and there…there it was…face to crotch…no pants, no panties, but a proudly worn geriatric diaper in XXXL to fit her 325 lb incontinent and presently naked lower half.

WEDNESDAY-
I caught the 8 am train. All is well. This means I arrive at the office at 8:37 so I can have an extra 20 minutes to continue “filing” my “documents” into the paper shredder. The train car is empty save for 3 other passengers. At the following stop a massive 640 lb obese child of god thunders his way in and since I am seated at the row closest to the door, although there are probably 67 empty seats through out the car, he rests his clogged arteries and polluted ventricular system next to me, taking up the remaining half of our bench. He then turns and looks at me, with eyelids just as fat his fingers and says, “That’s a very pretty dress you have on ma’am. Be careful not to open your legs on the train today.”

THURSDAY-
Same shit. Different day. The M train is 20 minutes behind schedule. I’ve been sweating like a pig and my feet are swollen bigger than a woman in her second trimester. Why? Because of my liver I suppose. My doctor attributes all my health issues to my liver. I still don’t know what this means. No seats left on the local train. We are all miserable and will violently assault when provoked. Time pities us and passes us by. We are brought to 53 and Lexington Ave. where a grown man, exceeding 6 feet in height, boards my car with his baseball cap, sunglasses secured around his neck, reading glasses on, and backpack strapped with a water bottle on the side. “Good morning fellow passengers!” he sings with a heavy tongue and lisp, “I’d like to go to Macy’s today…can someone come with me?” Silence, as we attempt to ignore his outrageous morning cheer delivered with speech impediments and gusto. He turns to a woman probably in her forties and says, “Will you come with me?”

“No” she says, “but I will tell u how to get there”.

“Ok.” And he smiles, with one wandering eyeball and a little bit of drool puddling at the corners of his mouth. “And then will YOU come with me? Because I like what you’re wearing,” he says as he turns to a business man in a full suit while eyeing his wardrobe in amazement.

“No, I’m sorry, I have to be at the office,” the businessman replies politely but staunchly. “Ok,” says this overgrown boy scout with a never waning smile, “Then I will borrow your book right?” he asks, as he turns to another woman reading. “Well, honey, you can borrow it as soon as I’m finished reading it,” she replies as the first person to return his smile and sincerity.

“OK GREAT!!!” he screams in excitement then, suddenly, his face falls, his eyes droop, and he reaches to fiddle with the sunglasses tied around his neck with his ‘easy reach’ cord. “B-b-but…when I get to Macy’s,” he stammers, “I, um, well …I- I just don’t know what to buy..what should I buy?” Silence again. And I suspiciously peer over my right shoulder, yanked from my position as the outside observer. All eyes were on me, and I realized: Crap. It’s my turn to respond to this day camper isn’t it? So I look him in the eye, drool now brimming over his bottom lip, sadness saturating his face, and I say to him, with as much sincere excitement as I can muster, and as big a smile as I can beam underground on this subway car, “How about a brand new leather jacket for the fall?”

“YEEAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” he screams, shaking from excitement, as a light bulb goes off in his head, and the life comes back to his eyes, and all is right in his world, right now, at 9:02 am this morning. And he is silenced for the duration of the ride, lost in the glory of what may come on his adventurous path towards Macy’s, with leather jackets and edible treats swimming around the daydream bubbles in his head as he stares off to one corner of the car, catatonic.

A sudden tranquility descends upon us commuters because, although our battle through the day has not yet started, it is still Thursday, 2 days before a long weekend, and on this day, we have all participated in the sheer, genuine happiness of one innocent little soul.

God bless.



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