move quickly or lose soft elbows rubbed pink then red then bruised like the last time when in slow motion you fell and in slow motion you suffered o u c h dragged its feet across the synapses of your brain when you got the whole message two years had breezed by
But still–but still–it absolutely does not bother me that I’m now just a part of the work I do. I don’t feel the least bit alienated from my life. If anything, I sometimes feel that by concentrating on my work like this, with all the mindless determination of an ant, I’m getting closer to the “real me.” I don’t know how to put it, but it’s kind of like by not thinking about myself I can get closer to the core of my self.
New Yorkers only bond over two types of incidents: incidents of great tragedy, and incidents of crazy people in the subway.
The thing with New Yorkers is not that we have no fear. What sets us apart from many non-New-Yorkers is our ability to keep it hid. You know how they say dogs can smell fear so don’t show it? We are very good at not showing it. We’ve extended this rule of thumb beyond dogs to people. Actually I don’t think we even use it with dogs, just people. (We do show fear of dogs. That is easier, less vulnerable.)
On the train home today, I stepped into one of the front cars and beheld a not-unfamiliar sight. Having lived in New York for 17 years creates a high threshold for the strange, therefore I was not shocked to see a creature huddled in a section of seating underneath a leather jacket. In front to this creature, which I derived to be female from the legs and moss flower printed tights, sat an enormous black garbage bag, the largest kind there is. The bag took on the shape of a whole other creature the way it laid on the floor with its gaping mouth filled to the brim (and then some) of garbage, or junk, not clean things either way.
There were scattered people sitting around her and aside from the occasional times she stuck her entire hand deep into her tights to scratch her ass vigorously, I figured she was a peaceful crazy, and sat down across from her bag of garbage. Upon sitting down I felt like I was too close so I got up to stand by the door. No big deal. The train rumbled forward.
Suddenly her peaceful craziness is broken by a murmuring that turns into aggressive shouting. I look out across the bridge but also watch her through the reflection of the door. I try to focus away from her but her shouts permeate Youth Lagoon and begin to make me anxious. On any given day, maybe I would have felt less anxious, but after a long day of grand jury duty and hearing about multiple unreasonable assaults, I felt like I’d much rather be safe than sorry. Crazy people are not the be reckoned with.
All of a sudden she gets up! She walks toward where I am standing. I feel a bit of panic, but keep a stern face, my eyes still fixed on her reflection. She stops by a pole close to me an arms length away, pointing and reprimanding the air then touching the floor in an erratic ritual pattern. I feel more panic, and decide to change train cars at the next stop. Thankfully she stop, stepping away from my side only to address the other side of the train car in the same manner. I am relieved, and turn around to watch, wishing the train would pull into Atlantic Avenue quicker. It never seems to get there.
The woman accuses and accuses waving her finger and touching the floor. I observe the people next to her. They sit stoic, no one gets up to move, even though she could easily have laid her dirty hand on their heads of clean hair! I am shocked. I stare at their faces, they are calm. It didn’t occur to me that I too have a calm face on.
When the doors finally open at Atlantic Avenue, I more than eagerly hurry out into the next car. Along with me I notice are a barrage of people, all the ones within 6 feet of Ms. Creature. All the ones that had stoic faces on. Now we turn them off, laugh in relief and smile at each other in acknowledgement. We talk about how it was the longest bridge crossing ever.
" — ah, I don’t want to say that it’s the opposite of beauty, "opposite of beauty" doesn’t even make sense — what comes out of the roach is: "today," blessed be the fruit of thy womb — I want the present without dressing it up with a future that redeems it, not even with a hope — until how what hope wanted in me was just to conjure away the present. "