I found this scribbled in the pages of a notebook I took to New York City over a year ago. I’d forgotten I’d written it.
Back in NYC after months of mostly uninterrupted Michigan life, I am finally back in a city that moves at a pace fast enough to make me feel like I’m at least required to keep my wits about me some of the time. Back in a place where I need to check twice before crossing the street. Back in a place where I can walk into a coffee shop and not recognise a single face, safe in the knowledge that I don’t need to make eye contact with every stranger but exalted knowing the power an unbidden smile brings here for that very reason. Back in a place where this is relief at knowing my accent is so commonly heard that it won’t attract any second glances or curious questions or terrible jokes that, while always well-intentioned, wear increasingly thin by reminding me how far from home I really am.
Jolting through tunnels beneath the city streets, I find the rattle and shake of the subway calming. There is pleasure in anonymity. Careening through darkness punctuated with flashing snapshots into the lives of others, I watch people as they come and go, meet each others’ eyes with slight smiles, and get on with the business of switching trains, meeting friends, making it home on time, living their lives. I look at them and wonder where they’re going. What they’re reading, or listening to. Whether they’re happy, or heartbroken. Whether they are looking back at me and wondering the same thing.