Friday, June 23, 2006

on the go

(Funky butt – thanks for the suggestion!)

I like my new commute. Now granted, I spend twelve hours a day now between when reluctantly rise from bed and when I gratefully pull up in front of the house I live in… but see, that’s why I’m glad I like the commute. That, plus the fact that my commute isn’t a permanent one, since I’ll be moving soon, is the stuff that gets me through when I’m on the train, weary, like I was yesterday. A few basics: I drive to the elevated train station that’s the same one my friends and I used to use to get to the movies and the mall, the one that’s a short walk away from the house I grew up in. I take the back roads to avoid traffic, traffic lights, and people. Then I park and ride. The wait for the train isn’t long during rush hour, maybe about four or five minutes. Then, when I get to the city, I walk underground with the other commuters until we find daylight and walk upstairs to the street. Then I’m walking, about four blocks north and another four blocks west (less, if I cut through the park, which I do often). I could transfer from train to train and cut my walk by four blocks, but I don’t see the point unless it rains… I like the walk. I like the scenery. There are shops and news stands and people everywhere on the street, on bikes, on foot, on scaffolding, driving, working, sleeping, people watching… and that’s where I get my entertainment and my food for thought. I also like the energetic rush I feel after my brisk walk to the office from the train. I haven’t commuted in a city in maybe about six years, and I’d forgotten how much I appreciated it.

Such travel takes consideration. I was using a bag that went over one shoulder. Bad idea. I got tired of switching the bag from one shoulder to the other to keep from killing either of them. Plus, after realizing what would make my commute easier, I realized I needed to upgrade to a bookbag. It carries my poetry books, reading material, and handbills for my poetry collective’s venue, just like my other bag did. But there are other things I needed, like a compartment for shoes. I ain’t walking one block in heels, let alone eight. I don’t rock sneakers with office wear – not ‘cause I feel any particular way about it, but ‘cause carrying sneakers takes up more bag room than comfortable dress loafers, which is what I walk with. But the bookbag has to hold the heels till I get to the office. Plus it holds my lunch – I brown bag, which saves about $1200 dollars a year that are going towards my goals. Then I had to get a train pass so I wouldn’t have to scramble for change in the morning. It’s so cute – it’s like I’m back in school, walking around with my bookbag and carrying my lunch in it.

The commute and working in the city have got me thinking about interesting stuff. I passed a woman yesterday whose daily routine is to play music and to ask for money and food. Yesterday as I passed her, I heard her say she was thirsty. Pointedly on the way somewhere, and already calloused to such requests, I and many others passed her to go wherever it was we thought was so important. That’s a downside - city bustle can expose the ugly in us – it becomes easier to walk past a thirsty person without doing anything about it. It’s ironic, because I simultaneously feel closer to humanity when surrounded by people everywhere… but I realize that all of that contact makes the experience of sharing space with people too familiar, making us a little disturbed, distrustful, uglier, self-isolated in the midst of many, and then essentially, less humane. Despite the many civilities I witness – held doors, friendly strangers, sincere apologies for accidents like a squashed toe or a near-body-crash, I know any one of us could be a hair fracture away from fracturing. The dichotomy and the precarious balance between the extremes fascinates me, especially since I don’t think most of us want to face the darkness of what we’re not only capable of, but what we actually do (or don’t do). I’ma say this, and I don’t preach often, but it’s true: we need a Savior.

Another ugly thing I’ve seen is sidewalk rage. Not road rage. SIDEWALK rage. I get it when I inadvertently walk through someone’s cloud of cigarette smoke. I can’t get too mad, since we non-smokers have pushed them all outside of buildings, so where else would they be but the sidewalk? But still. It stinks. I like to see the smokers before I smell them so I can measure my breaths to minimize my contact with their smoke – not walk all up into it, breathing like how I normally do. I also get sidewalk rage when people do dumb stuff like start taking toddler steps right in front of you, ‘cause they can’t walk and dial a cell phone at the same time. Or when something catches their eye and they stop with no warning, rubbernecking right in the middle of the sidewalk, in front of you, while you’re at full speed. Then there are the Sunday stroll people who must not realize that others have places to go. There are also sidewalk hogs, who weave all over the middle of the walk, like they don’t realize other people may need to get by. *rolling eyes* But, whaddaya gonna do?

I must also say that I do feel herded sometimes, when I’m walking with folks all tight in a space, silent, looking straight ahead, not making contact with anyone. It reminds me of when penned up animals are let loose, and their only focus is, “Forward, march!” Then, between someone telling me that wars are manufactured, and my observation that celebrity propaganda seems more valuable to our society than real news now, plus the developing feeling of feeling herded (and not just in the context of commuting), I keep wondering why Geo. Orwel.l’s 1984 and Ray Bradbur.y’s Fahr.enheit 451 aren’t banned books. Seriously.

But on a lighter note, I like people watching and fashion critiquing. I love checking out the stuff the women wear and getting ideas on what’s hot and what’s not. And! I did.not.know that there were so many good looking brothers walking around the city. I love seeing brothers in their work clothes. *swooning* Eye candy. I look, but don’t flirt. I’m too *ahem* busy for them. But I ain’t dead. Bless they hearts...