August 26, 2010

Constructed Lives

We pass over the East River on a bridge different than MetroNorth's.  Roll through Brooklyn in the fog.  The buildings peak but the gray swallows the skyline.  The same gray as my suit.  I convince myself that I have not disappeared and wonder why this internal conversation sounds familiar.  When else did I have to convince myself that I have not yet disappeared?  What was I doing then?

As we pull into Penn Station I'm stringing words together but sitting on my hands.  Afraid I will write myself out of my life.  A constructed life, I remind myself.  It waxes and wanes, but you're okay, I coax myself.  My hands still pressed against the fake leather seat.  Willing myself not to get off the train and run into the warm New York rain.  Feel it rush down my face.  Scrunch my nose at the smell of wet sidewalks and the stench of misplaced garbage. I turn up my ipod, take a deep breath, and text a friend - my fingers need something to do.  Dismiss the thought that this must be what a quit smoker feels like after kicking the addiction.  Dismiss the thought that NYC has become an unhealthy addiction.  Call it back because maybe that will keep me in my seat.

A woman with fast blackberry fingers sits down next to me.  I grab my coffee as we lurch out of Penn Station.  Try to figure out if I started holding my breath before or after we left the station.  Scramble for my pen and paper.  Declare myself in bold ink A WRITER to the pages of my moleskin. "Once In A Lifetime" crawls into my headphones, and I can't help but wonder what this moment means for my life.  We cross what I assume to be the mouth of the Hudson, and suddenly this train ride can't be long enough.

"You may ask yourself: well... how did I get here? [...]
You may ask yourself
Am I right?... Am I wrong? 
You may ask yourself: well... how did I get here?
[Once In A Lifetime, Talking Heads]

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