Subway Check-In

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Every now and then I’ll be riding the subway in Boston and I’ll catch a glimpse of my reflection in the dirty, smudged glass of the window. In-between the passengers sitting across from me, I’ll watch myself lean to the side a bit and stare back at my own visage, slightly puzzled to see myself in such a fashion. (Most of the time when we look at a mirror we are by ourselves, so seeing oneself in a sea of strangers, and from a distance, is always somehow jarring.) It used to be a young man with a nameless backpack, then it was a guy with a Jack Spade bag, and now it’s just a middle-aged gentleman in a simple black t-shirt with a few more lines and wrinkles on his face, even in the forgiving dirtiness and filtering scratches of the subway window. These check-in moments on the T are markers of time ~ not altogether unwelcoming, but not exactly hopeful either.

Next to me is a much-younger guy with a hat that holds longer locks of hair. He reminds me of my friend Chris when he was younger. I think of us in college, and on some crazy spring break in San Juan, then fast-forward to where we are today. Outwardly we’re adults, with homes and families and jobs that make it look like we have our shit together, but sometimes my heart still riots. The passing of time ~ there suddenly like the arrival of a subway train that seems to take forever then is gone in a flash. We hurl so quickly to our next destination and we don’t ever realize how fast we are going. Sometimes there is nothing but a stranger to hold onto, but that would be weird so I fold my hands in my lap and watch the blur of the subway tiles rushing by.

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