Tick Tock on the T

Every now and then when I’m riding the T in Boston I’ll catch a glimpse of my reflection in the dirty glass across the subway car. It used to be a youthful guy with a backpack, then it was a young man with a Jack Spade bag, and now it’s just a middle-aged man in a simple black t-shirt with a few more lines and wrinkles, even in the forgiving dirtiness and filtering scratches of the subway window. The digital numbers of the advancing clock glow red between station announcements. The squealing joints of subway cars screech their moans and miseries around each trying turn. We sway as the train swerves slightly, jostled but not mindful of much: the ennui of the commuter.

Next to me is a young man with a hat that holds longer locks of hair. He reminds me of my friend Chris when he was younger. I’m suddenly aware, as happens only once in a while, of the passing of time. I remember visiting Suzie in Ithaca and meeting Chris and the other roommates. We were so young. It was twenty years ago. There so suddenly, like the arrival of a subway train that seems to take forever then is gone in a flash, the relentless rush of it all feels overwhelming. We hurl so quickly to our next destination we don’t realize how fast we are going.

I look around at the people lost in their cel phones, connected to their earbuds and disconnected from the world in front of them. They see but cannot hear each other. They glance but cannot listen. And I am just as guilty.

A small part of me panics at the notion of how quickly it’s all passed. Mostly, though, I marvel that I can still be in the same location after going so many places.

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