Friday, January 07, 2005

"Stand clear of the closing doors."

Observations on the L

Army coat man is on the train again. I saw him yesterday as we boarded the Manhattan bound L train at Morgan Avenue, his green hooded head cast downward. We both grab precariously to the rail as the train lurches forward. IPod stuffed into my pocket, Kasabian is our soundtrack for this morning.

With each stop, the train fills more and more. At Grand Street, I spy tousled platinum hair and a military style coat with big brass buttons. She's tall. Scandinavian? Polish import via Greenpoint? Her boyfriend's dark hair looks dirty as opposed to made to look dirty. He kisses her when she makes pouty faces at him.

Graham Avenue . . . Lorimer Street. Change here for the G Train. We're getting closer to the epicenter of New York bohemia—Bedford Avenue. I furtively size up the other passengers, make mental notes of clothing, hairstyles, earrings, color of purses and bags, as if measuring my nascent New Yorkerness against theirs. Feeling conspicuous,
as if too conservatively dressed or radiating something indeterminably Washingtonian, I seek validation. Some girl in a turquoise Banana Republic coat has my hairstyle and I feel a little bit better about myself.

Sandwiched between adverts for Jameson and children's clothing, I can feel the heat from the person spooned against me. In any other instance, it would be an act of intimacy. Layers of clothes and propriety separate us.

Union Square. Change here for the 4, 5, 6, N, Q, R, and W trains.

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