When I need to think, I go to the subway station. I never get on the subway, because I never have anywhere I want to go.
Instead, I pay the two dollars for a pass, and go down to the station. Then I sit back, and watch.
I'm not sure what it is about the station that draws me to it. I like the busyness of it, and I like how I see so many different people, each living a separate life. I've been coming here for years. It could just be that I have an attachment to it. A sentimental thing or something.
Whatever the reason, I come down here a lot. Whenever something happens that I need to deal with, I head under the streets. Yeah, I could just go to the park, and it wouldn't cost two bucks, but there's something therapeutic about the metro. Sitting down there, watching life literally pass by me hour after hour, I actually unwind. Stress fades, I can think clearer, and problems seem much smaller. So yeah, I could just go to the park, but it wouldn't cost two bucks. I think I get my money's worth.
Anyway, the way I look at it, it's cheaper than seeing a psychologist.
So, I'm underground, sitting a bench towards the back of the station. I love how many different people you can see, all living very different lives, but all coming to this same point in the city to go someplace else.
I'll sit down here for three or more hours, and I'll see thousands of people come and go. People rarely talk to one another. People sometimes look at one another, but they don't stare. Most of the time, they're on their mobile phones, or they're reading the paper, or they're reading a book.
The most I ever get out of the newspaper is the Sudoku puzzles, but even those piss me off eventually.
Right now, I'm watching this mother with her daughter. The little girl, who I'd say was probably around four or five, was pulling, hard, on her mom's hand. The woman tried to hold her back at first, but then relented, and let go.
The girl ran out to the edge of the subway tunnel, and looked around, while the woman pulled out her mobile. I remember back before there were mobile phones. I miss those days.
I watched the little girl for a few more minutes, as she looked at the cracked plastic covering posters on the wall.
This is the kind of thing that helps me relax. I try to remember what it was like to be young, and to be fascinated by something as simple as cracked plastic. It's hard to. I can't really do it, but it helps me feel better.
To that girl, the people around her must be giants. She was surrounded by impossibly tall giants without faces. They were just skyscrapers whose walls were lined with black cloth.
I realized the girl was gone, lost in the forest of giants.
well. I turn my attention to a guy sitting next to me. He's on his
cell phone, with a PDA in his other hand. I can't understand what
he's saying; everything around me's too loud. Watching him talk
furiously on his phone, as he scrolls through some documents on his
PDA, was relaxing, in a way. I watched for a minute or two, until he
noticed me, gave me a look, and then moved. That happens a lot.
I move on to a bum in the back corner of the station. He's wearing a tattered camo jacket, and is sprawled on some sheets of yellowed newspaper. I notice he only has one sock on.
Bums are some of the more interesting people I see in this station. You know they've got a story, but it's a mystery. He undoubtedly once had a better life.
Maybe it was a gambling addiction, or alcoholism, or unemployment.
The man wasn't awake, but some people had dropped coins or dollars next to him. I watched a kid walk by, kneel over, and scoop up the bills. He shoves them in his pocket and walks away. Some other people watch, but nobody says anything.
I hear a rumbling. The subway's coming. It appears on the left end of the tunnel, immediately slowing down, stops, and opens its doors. The people inside file out. The people outside file in. The doors close, and the subway leaves.
This is just how it goes. Every train brings new people.
I've been coming down here for seven years, and I've never recognized the same person twice.
I lean back in my bench.
This is how I deal with my life – watching other people live theirs.