I could barely hold it together. I was dabbing tears from my windswept cheeks with the wrists of my shirtsleeves on a rush hour train.
The lines and stops forming a circulatory system of the city, a paint-by-number, dizzying puzzle for the uninitiated, carves its own story for each soul that lets them flow through long enough.
The ABC boy whose father watches him play classics and collect tips has been defined by his beats at Times and Union Square. The basketball teams and showtime performers are defined by the rush hours and long interludes in tunnels they trap their victims in.
The time I divided and donated to steamy, dusty halls showed exactly who and what I was obligated to, or more importantly, made the effort to travel for. They say you’re not a New Yorker until you’ve cried in a crowded car. Perhaps instead it becomes a part of your identity when you define yourself by red, yellow and green lines and numbered street names. Perhaps instead when you’ve navigated alone, leaning over another poor traveler to see the map. Perhaps instead when you take the G into the middle of Queens at 2 a.m. — until you give up and take an Uber instead.
I’ve written about many parts of New York as if the city was a man who persistently breaks and mends my heart. Of course, the city is old and comprised of moving, conflicting pieces — it has a personality like no other. The subway is no different.