Sunday, April 17, 2005

subway facination

i am facinated with the subway... I ride it all the time, i get on and get off.. i ride to manhattan from my home in brooklyn. i pretty much ride after school hours for the teenagers and parents who are picking up children from their schools or i ride at night, after ive been somewhere. I mostly ride on weekends. I have taken to looking at poeple's shoes on the subway, the perfunctory looking down.. til last week when i was bored..i looked at a man and knew what he looked liked as a child. I pictured him as child and then extended that to others around me..
Grown people and what they may have looked like as a kid..

sometimes, generally when i am riding home from my thursday night class, i tend to talk to someone... One night, a nigerian woman who has lived in paris for years. SHe talked of all the things that she didnt like about HOW nyers and americans live. How cramped we are and your need to work... rather than vacation. I asked her why she was still in ny, brooklyn no less and as she was a fashion designer, she felt that she would try to break her chops in NY. SHe told me about her sister who bought a cartier watch on canal street. It seems in france the confisgate knock offs. but this sister took this knock off to Cartier to get the battery replaced and the Park Avenue store confisgated it.

I meet many students and many social work students on the train. I see students reading books on computers, on chemistry, and me reading lectures, pamphlets and what ever else i can get my hands on.. I have talking to two social work students who complete an AA degree in a few months. These women never believed they would be the ones to go to college. Then there was a Lehrman student who was trying to apply the skills she was learning to a girls group with her church.

There are musicians on the train. A russian clarinetist who doesnt know Joni Mitchell's for free but will play a tune for loose change. the Homeless guys who represent themselves as a doo wop group and making a living, singing in harmony. There are players, buskers on the platform and on the train. Mexican bands who ride the train, peruvian flutists in the 14th and 34th street stations, the asian violist at 42nd, the hip hop dancers who tease tourists with their show.. the guitarist without all the strings on the guitar, julliard students at practice, and anyone else who wants to try to gain a coin

Last week coming home, i walked on the train after school. I was carrying too many bags and i saw a seat. So i took the seat and once i started reading my paper, i looked up and saw a sad eyed woman who was pregnant. I stood to give her my seat. None of the 8 men around me gave her a seat, but one man with a yamukle looked up from his ny times and stood to let me have his seat. I thanked him. Within seconds, i heard the man next to me talking to himself, under his breath. I looked at him and he needed to wash his shirt where he spilled food and needed to learn to maintain his hygiene. I knew he was travelling back to where he was living, i wanted to believe it was group home for the mentally ill. this man was high functioning but needed help. He carried a newspaper and more in his black plastic bag..
as we pulled into a station, he put his bag in the seat and go up and went to the door. He used the bag to reserve his seat but i thought that he didnt know that
leaving a bag unattended was not an acceptable thing in NY anymore. Even i who doesnt think of terrorist activity was concerned by his actions. He came back to sit down..
as the men across the way go off, i went to sit next to the pregnant woman..
"when are you due, ?" i asked. She looked at me and finally told me she was not pregnant. I was not sure i heard her correctly.. She was not pregnant.
She told me she has a tumor.. she hadnt had it removed. There was problem with her medical insurance and when the doctor told her there was a chance they would grow back. she didnt persue the surgery. This information was in response to some questions i asked her.. She will hve the surgery in july. she didnt know if they were fibroid and she didnt know much about her health or health care. She wasnt aware she had choices and it wasnt my place to tell her.
I apologized for thinking she was pregnant. She said that the tumor was in her womb as big as a baby . I asked her how hard it was to carry around that much weight. she said she gets very tired. She explained she wanted a seat but saw i had lots of bags so she appreciated i gave her my seat. I told her that she looked like she needed to sit so it was not a hard choice for me..I wished her well as she got off at her stop....

Riding the NY subway is always an adventure waiting to happen