Commute

There’s a navy velvet sky this morning, and the swish of traffic is drowned out by busts of cheery birdsong. It’s not dawn, but it’s coming, and the birds know what’s up. I might have dressed and prepared tea, quietly – some still sleep at this hour – but it felt far from the empty city mornings where all the people all around simply added to the vacuousness of the subway tunnels. People: the physical representation of all that was not and all that was commented on, without, but truly hidden, within. It made my shoulders and back ache, and twisting or backbending in yoga would provide a near instantaneous rush of energy that had to be hidden and coveted and saved. They took it there. They didn’t take me, because now I am here, sipping warm, spicy chai, rembering stillwarm lips and watching the sky magically lighten.

I look up and it’s Empire of Light in action with trees and homes silhouetted against a deeper blue, chilly sky. The streetlights are not yet blinking out, but the warm, yellow living room glows give the houses eyes and smiles: Magritte would approve of this American twist on that which he captured elsewhere, without. As the sky slips out of its nighttime gear, I realize I have first day of school nervousness, and would like to retreat to those warm yellow lights, even though I haven’t participated in academics in around 10 years . I don’t feel old – like the sky creeping into a warm periwinkle, I’m emerging into something brighter and more vibrant that ever before, and that won’t be sucked away, like too many disapproving faces sucked in their breath when I told them what I was going to do. “That’s awesome,” their words would be, yet they would be saying that I was crazy, different, and not making any sense.

The boldfaced bus arrives and I climb on, foolish, in a place where people are adults and have cars and homes. I’m not 25, but people tend to think I am or younger, and I haven’t done this commute before. Fortunately, the familiar peacoat-clad office workers board at later stops, and sit, bags of lunch with Chobani Greek Yoghurt and the lazy, falsely healthy fare of lean cuisines and blueberries, which should be for lunch, but we all know that the carrier will be hitting the snack machine around 3 pm, and standing around the Keurig coffee machine for longer in order to make the afternoon minutes tick a little more quickly by. The phones come out, the heads go down, but my seatmate is reading construction and tax documents, the woman ahead pulls out a book, and another pair look to be engrossed in schoolwork. The bus stops and sits, the light is red, before slinking into the tunnel; I’m used to that kind of travel, but what is new for me is the explosion into the open air, yellow bridges and water, with a funky skyline that makes me smile, and buildings on streets whose names I do not know.

I won’t get lost here. That’s impossible.

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