I have a confession to make: I love taking the subway. I know, it can be gross and annoying and crowded and disgusting. I used to hate it when I lived and work here and basically took it every day at rush hour PLUS had to transfer at fucking Times Square on a daily basis – which is a New Yorkers nightmare – but still, I just fell in love with it all over again. It’s an adventurous place to be!

There is hardly a better place to do people watching. Overwhelmed tourists, flirty couples, kids asking their parents questions (One of my favorites would probably be „Mommy, what holds the sky up?“). I like the old people. And the really young ones. I like the busy people. I love how it confuses people when you smile at them. How thankful they are, when you do. 

I love seeing these people and imagining what their lives are like. What music gets busted through their headphones? Or is it a podcast? What books are they reading? Are their texting their girlfriend? Are they crushing candy or swiping right for matches? What made them get up this morning? Where do they come from and where are they headed? All these people are as different as people could possibly be. No Subway ride passes without seeing at least one person who is dressed up in a fancy way, wearing crazy jewels, the fanciest suit or evening dress or just the most instagrammable outfit IRL. But being on the subway gives them a common ground. We’re all headed in the same direction, even if just for a few minutes.

The subway also gives you time to slow down. To get seated and lay out your thoughts. There’s not much you can do, so you people-watch or read or take notes.

A really cool thing they do in the New York subway is that they put up poems in some of the frames for the ads. They are kind of inspiring. One of them stuck to my head.

A Strange Beautiful Woman

by Marilyn Nelson

A strange beautiful woman met me in the mirror the other night.

Hey, I said, What you doing here?  She asked me the same thing.

At first, I only could read a part of it, as someone was sitting in front. So all I saw was the title and the last eight words. Who met who? Where and why? When the person got up, the mystery got solved – and my thoughts began to spin.

I feel like we all know this feeling of looking in the mirror and not recognizing ourselves.

Also, I had this idea of how the narrator isn’t a person but actually the reflection in the mirror…

 

You also get to see people breakdance, hear people sing. You have people tell their story and people raise money – you may get annoyed by that or not. The other day this woman raised her voice. The slender black lady began talking and my first thaught went straight to wondering, what she was raising money for. She didn’t look like the homeless you happen to meet in one train or the other. What she said was:

The other day this woman raised her voice. The slender black lady began talking and my first thought went straight to wondering, what she was raising money for. She didn’t look like the homeless you happen to meet in one train or the other. What she said was:

„I just decided to share good news today.“

She paused and then continued:

„My good news is, that I am alive. I am alive and well and my son just graduated High School and will start College in fall. Who else wants to share their good news?“

She took an expectant look around. This boy of maybe 12 years raised his hand and said: „My good news is, that I’m going to move to a new house“ And so people got into it and told the full subway car about how they were football champions, got back together with their girlfriends, had just survived the first day at a new job and so on.

She paused and then continued: „My good news is, that I am alive. I am alive and well and my son just graduated High School and will start College in fall. Who else wants to share their good news?“ She took an expectant look around. This boy of maybe 12 years raised his hand and said: „My good news is, that I’m going to move to a new house“ And so people got into it and told the full subway car about how they were football champions, got back together with their girlfriends, had just survived the first day at a new job and so on.

I was mesmerized. I wanted to say something. Anything really. But all I could think of – all I could feel – was, how full of love I was.

I was in love with the people around me, sharing their good news.

In love with New York freakin‘ City.

With the fact that it was summer and I was on my way home after a beautiful but exhausting day.

I was full to the brim with the feelings of joy, luck, happiness, and gratefulness.

Just being stimulated to think about good news, to think happy thoughts elevated the energy in this subway car to a whole new level. It was magical!

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