There was a man on my train the other day who kept shrugging his shoulders and shifting with anxiety. At first when I sat next to him I thought, This guy’s alright, this guy’s normal. But I was wrong. I have to catch a lot of trains, so I try to seek them out – the normal ones. I’m always wrong.
I came into this world of trains and errands thinking adults sat in their seats on their way to work staring forward and sitting still. I didn’t know that nervous habits kept happening after you hit eighteen, twenty, twenty-five. My dad chips at his nails. Some people look around, twitching their heads to the doors every time the train stops. Others shake their knees or tap their knuckles on the thick windows.
I wonder – How do we get anything done in this city? There were a bunch of guys in high-vis by the train tracks, casually standing off to the side waiting for the train to go past so they could do their work. When I got on the escalators leading up to my bus stop there was one row for walkers and another for standers. My bus driver said hello to me when I got on and goodbye when I got off – How do we get anything done in this city? We’re all full of nervous tics and crazy internal monologues, but we wake up and work, following invisible rules. We’re kind to strangers every now and then for no reason. There’s a force pushing us forward, making the world work. It gets my train across the city and paperbacks in my lap for the commute. What is it?
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Photo by Arman Duggal