Every time I take the train I’m very alert. My junior year high school English teacher told me not to use the word “very” in my writing but sometimes it fits. If I’m very hungry, I don’t want to say I’m ravenous. I don’t talk like that. I’m very hungry. So on the train I try to keep aware of my surroundings. And I don’t like to have headphones in. Mostly because as an aspiring professional storyteller I love eavesdropping. It’s free and and it’s fun and everyone has a story. Last week on the train I overheard a man tell another man nearby that he just met (I heard them introduce themselves) about his 17 year sentence in prison. With eavesdropping, you must fill in a lot of blanks. Or just leave them blank because it’s technically none of your business. Why was he in prison for 17 years? Why do we put anyone in prison for 17 years? What is the significance of his tattoos? Does he blame his prison sentence on being a Sagittarius or is that just something girls do when we kiss guys who are mean to us?
I overheard the two men talking about prison, and about turning 56 (they just met and discovered they were both turning 56 this year.) And it was simply the best. Above all else, regardless of where their lives had twisted and turned them, these two dudes were sitting 2 seats apart on the F train discussing their back pain and insomnia. The common denominator we all face is the inevitable passage of time. That’s where I’m going to end my musings on aging and if you want more, go listen to Fleetwood Mac.
When I got off the train I knew I probably wouldn’t see those men again. There are too many people who live here for that to happen. But it always makes me think about how you never know who’s on the train with you. Where anyone is going or coming from. Last night, nobody on the train knew I had to pee so badly. They didn’t know that was my hero’s journey. The catalyst that took me on this 3 train journey home from the open mic. That when the train stopped briefly underground I took it as a threat. As a challenge.
Today, my stomach hurts. Tomorrow, maybe my head or back or feet will hurt. Every day is an opportunity for pain, but also an opportunity for opportunity. One day the train will stop for so long underground that I’ll pee my pants maybe. One day I’ll meet the love of one era of my life on the train, maybe. Sometimes the C train runs on the F line. Sometimes the D train runs on the R line. Sometimes you tell your friend you’re one stop from Jay Street and then a glimmer of sunlight comes through the windows and you’re on the bridge to Manhattan. Every day is a train ride. Stand clear of the closing doors.
The best thing I ate this week:
Was a platter for 2 at Barney Greengrass. My friend Alex and I took the train 45 minutes for lox. I actually took 3 trains to get there to minimize any outside walking time because it was 90 degrees yesterday and I’m Ashkenazically allergic to the sun. We had fresh squeezed orange juice, lox, whitefish salad, sturgeon, bagels and cream cheese and tomato and onion. We talked about how amazing it is to pursue stand-up comedy and how it’s easy and everyone who does it loves each other and never talks shit. I had a bagel and 3 kinds of fish for breakfast and it reminded me that good food is worth traveling for. Even if it takes 3 trains.