THANKSGIVING, 6:17pm R-train to Bay Ridge
- Plugging along the track, this trusty ole steed, deliver me post-haste.
- Convivializing to my right, a hispanic family of multiple generations. The adults seethe in excited conversation, the baby is silent in the stroller, staring cottony at the elders. No more than 15 on the train. It is cold outside. Thankfully the chilling, demoralizing rain of yesterday is over. Nonetheless, the warm womb of the train is a welcome sensation, this night of communal repose.
- I just rode 4 stops on the L with a Mexican tourist, learning about the holistic healing seminars she'd just completed. I gave her advice about the city and geography. I should've gotten her name or contact or company. She was going to spend Thanksgiving window-shopping in Williamsburg. I could've invited her to the feast my friends were preparing. Even if they had minded, I wouldn't.
But lo that ship has sailed. And that is just what these train encounters are: rogue ships sliding by in pitchest midnight, hoping against hope to scrape off the barnacles on the hull of their neighbor.
- All kinds of phenomena you see on the NYC metro: buskers, breakdancers, beatboxers, comedians, poets, panhandlers, priests, pantomimes, pushers, and pimps, masters of their own strange island, old Jews in caddies and wigs, hipsters in fedoras (short-brimmed, low-crowned, of course), hobos in cargo pants and windbreakers that have bitten into, grafted, and fused with their flesh and the empty cars that precede them, Koreans, Kurds, Kenyans, Lithuanians, Latvians, and Lapps, Malagasy, Montenegrans, Nairobis, Nepalese, Omanis, Patagonians, peasants from Kamchatka, fishermen from Minsk, Svalbardians, Kalallit medicine men- because everyone's a phenomenon, a billboard of herself - mother, father, child, drags, trannies, herms, queers with cat carriers, valises holding valises holding valises, to-go rotisseries suspended in air, brand-new toys, broken toys, hot-air balloons, a waxing gibbous moon, fish with hooks in their lips, Eris in a sundress, wolves with hackles raised, pigs in Ralph Laren, feces on their wrist, squirrels, bandicoots and basset hounds, constellations in their eyes, a beachhouse in their prayers, eternal discord in their gut. The spirit of the subway. The geist of the city. The King of the Hill, Top of the Heap, NY, NY.
- I've seen 3-card monte on the train. I've seen a grown-man at high noon writhe onto the train with his pubes out, and wriggle salaciously like a legless lizard. I've seen a young sleeping tourist wake with a start and projectile vomit across the aisle. I've seen a Thai lunatic in daisy dukes whipping himself and telling monkeys to go back to their country. And the lesbian lover whose shadow he trembled under. I've bled on the train, pissed between the cars, and like anyone who's spent a sufficient number of nights in NYC, I have lost the contents of my belly somewhere along the endless 24-hour Pollacked linoleum floor.
- I appreciate the layout of some older cars, the way the seats come in at right angles. You do not want to get trapped in the crux of the L: No legroom, inaccessible, you really want to make sure you're going to sink in for a while; these aren't one-stop seats. Unless of course, you're like me and enjoy forced discomfort, enjoy the proximity of your knee to some businessman's thigh, love having to slice through someone's inertial slumber to get off at your stop. These seats are alive. You're alive when you sit in them. You're not on a train. You're on this black coach of sorrow, we're all on together, lunging, lurching, facing each other, burping in frills, soaring over divots and ravines, inevitably, inescapably, at break-neck speed, our stomachs pushing up up up into our lungs, our nerves frayed, our wits in a tangle, our knuckles clutching on for dear life, our eyes like shucked oysters in their sockets,
until at last we reach our destination, our coalligned and monstrous destiny, our terminus. And it's not Bay Ridge.