Late late late. In this case for someone who has come to a meeting at my office forty minutes early and called me at home wondering where I am. Not entirely my fault. Still bad feelings coat stomach. Pace platform.
Where I find that the expensive purse which I bought in a trance last night in a shop in Grand Central really is too big, too heavy, to be truly comfortable. Yes, the price was slashed by 70%. (The store has been closing for weeks, and was down to the wire.) Even reduced, it is the most expensive purse I’ve ever bought, and I’m not even someone who cares about nice leather. I’m vegetarian for God’s sake!
When finally on train, I sit across from a pale, but slightly red-faced, man who wears round tortoise shell glasses, a pin-stripe shirt, a careful, if curly comb-over, and thick suede hiking boots. He seems to be talking occasionally, gesticulating, not wildly, but in the mild considered way of someone wearing a headset, only we are on a moving train and his ears are clear.
I can’t stop myself from meeting his eyes repeatedly, though they have a slightly fishy blankness (mixed with intensity) which tells me I shouldn’t.
Late late late. Why did I wash hair that was washed last night? And then I had to rinse it repeatedly because I was hurrying so much I first started drying strands still sticky with shampoo.
Ate swiss muesli too (something which should never be eaten fast) with guzzling speed.
I regret that speedy muesli now as the train chugs along and I catch the eye again of the round-glassed, slightly muttering man who suddenly looks genuinely sad. His expression makes me feel somehow sick again, beyond the lateness sickness and the muesli sickness; I wonder what has happened to him.
Or maybe, I think suddenly, in my wishful vegetarian blogger way, he’s just reciting poetry to himself. What with the round tortoise shell glasses. He has an umbrella too, on his lap, one with a wooden handle which means it was probably not bought on the street in a storm. It could be the umbrella of someone who recites poetry to themselves.
But his mutters do not have the consistency of line for poems. And, in addition, to the flickers of sadness, there is a strong cast of resentment around his mouth. The only poet I can think of at that moment who is resentful is Bob Dylan, and the guy across from me is definitely not singing. Though he does flick his fingers repeatedly. Still, no.
Oh-oh. I think he just said “swine”. Twice.
I try to look away.
But the autopilot mania of my lateness, my prospective workday, my morning fatigue, and the rushed muesli, makes it really hard.
I force my eyes to the hand resting on the round purple tummy of the girl right next to me, pregnant, ruffly-bloused, whose long-lashed eyes are closed. I strive for a bit of her calm.
But striving and calm don’t mix all that well, and the guy across from me says something a bit louder now, over the sound of the train tracks. I look up; this time he stares right at me.
Oh the New York City subway system.
Now we stop. Train traffic ahead.
Right next to my guy sits a blonde woman writing hurriedly on a pad with lots of pastel pages. She seems happy, animated; her ears do wear earphones, she sometimes twitches with rhythm, energy. I wonder immediately if she’s writing a blog and imagine it to be a funny one. .
Then my guy, the one I’m trying not to look at it, suddenly punches the air, each elbow at a sharp right angle, as he hits the space before him.
No one else seems to notice. And I force myself to look away. Punching’s a bit much. Stare instead at the black-bordered screen of the guy beside me. He watches it intently, his thumbs on dials. It looks like there is a animated woman in a noose on the screen.
When I get off, I walk fast.
(The above post is part of a continuing series about stress. See e.g. “From Rat Race to Rat Rut” and any post mentioning Robert Pattinson.)
If you want something unstressful to read to kids on subway, check out 1 Mississippi, (Karin Gustafson) at link above, or on Amazon.