Monday, September 6, 2010
A girl sits, flanked by strangers, on the uptown 1. She registers her surroundings but is unable to focus on any one thing in particular, other than her own face staring back at her in the window opposite. Her hair is clean, but feels dirty. Her t-shirt too big, her eyes too wide and swollen from tears. A multi-ethnic tot climbs the pole at the center of the train and too tired to indulge in the humor of off-color stripper jokes, the girl forces a side smile and looks back at her own reflection in an effort to soak in the cinematic nature of the moment, and her own swelling emotions. She lives between. She notices her face shape-shifting in front of her; first her aunt, then her grandmother, her father, her mother, her brother, and back to herself. Her iPod shuffles to a weekend dance party song, she touches the button for the next, a down-tempo folk song. The train stops. Her bangs are unruly, matted from residual sex. Her fingernails uneven, in need of a file. She adjusts her too big t-shirt, pulling it in at the waist, as if anyone cares. Her eyes stare back at her; her family's eyes. Her family's hopes weigh down on her, as if anyone cares, or maybe it's just her own self-important nature. No one tells her what to think anymore. She's tired of thinking for herself. The train lurches forward, bounding uptown, emerges above ground in Harlem, the city resting below the tracks, she herself somehow over it. The train stops. She stands, gathers her collection of belongings, and exits. The air is strangely comforting, less stifling, more familiar, easier to breathe, or maybe it's just the elevation. As if anyone cares. The turnstile a friendly reminder of her place in the sea of people, in the unending count of bodies occupying the vast, unforgiving world. Her bubble of whining emotionality popped by the vibrato of her phone in her pocket. Life is back. The train rumbles on above.