Friday, March 20, 2015

the beavers of Astor place

Her drama was a drama not of heaviness but of lightness. What fell to her lot was not the burden but the unbearable lightness of being.
--Milan Kundera

I settled snugly into the corner of the bench and the railing. Like an old Gothic choir stall, the subway seat wrapped around my shoulder, like the warmth of a father's arm. I pulled open my book, curled into the corner, and prepared for a long ride with no transfers, bumps, or deadlines. All I had to do was glide home on this midnight, underground traveler.

Next to me was a man, whose dark eyebrows and smooth face looked like something out of a dream. A familiar face that I had always seen before, and whose gentle presence was a comfortable given. Together, we sped through the city, wrapped in the stillness of the night train. We were lost in the blur of motion: of the wheels racing over the tracks, of the world of the tunnel whirring indiscriminately by in the uniform darkness. The words of the book blended with the spinning night, and I was lost in the magic of words flying off the page and filling all the empty air.

The train paused as it reached the station. Just like every stop on the six train: Stop. Pause. Wait. Suspense. Doors open. Pause. Count. Breathe. Run, Leap onto the Train. Doors Close. Doors Open Again. Doors Close. Doors Open Again (some pariah who can't wait for the "train just two minutes behind this one"). Repeat? Doors Close. Finally. Pause. Tepid Gurgle. Lurch. Rumble. Lurch. Go.

This time, we stopped. There was a pause. The doors open, and there is a suspended lull, and no one moves, and the words from the book keep spilling off of the pages into buzzing train, and the musty underground of the subway station.

Suddenly, the man runs. Out of the door, with a jolt, a start, and he dashes out of the doors. He leaves behind him a question lingering: what stopped him from walking off as soon as the doors open? Why did he wait for the suspended lull? Was he, perhaps, enchanted by the words swirling into the night air and the warmth of the subway car, like a mother's rocking chair. The space where he had been was empty. The emptiness was cold, clashing against the warmth of the cozy corner.

And then the doors closed. And didn't open again. And there was a pause. A tepid gurgle. A lurch. A rumble. Then the train pulled out of the station, the words trailing behind us, like twisting ribbons of steam from smokeless engines.

No comments:

Post a Comment