Friday, October 23, The commute
8:oo am: Dry my hair, put on my pants, pack my lunch–the usual morning stuff. I need to get downtown to the NYU campus by 9:25 for a “class” I take on Friday mornings. I use quotation marks because it’s not really a class, it’s a seminar I’m required to take as I supervise two NYU grad students at my agency. The interns are cool 20-somethings, and being around them reminds me that I’m not.
8:20: It is a brisk autumn morning, and so I wrap myself in a big cuddly scarf in warm autumnal colors. I bought it innocently at Zara two months ago, then turned on Instagram and became aware that this scarf is an internet sensation, popular with 20-something cool girls. Its popularity stems from the fact that it’s soft and cuddly and looks like it should be worn while kicking a big pile of crunchy red leaves or running in slow motion through a pumpkin patch. This scarf is truly adorable, but it has these microscopic fibers that pepper your entire outfit when worn, and it’s possible that it’s made with something I’m mildly allergic to. But it’s me against the scarf today, and I’m determined to win.
<worn presumably without reaction on lemonstripes.com>
8:25 am: Leave house for the train station. Hug Vin and mention in passing: “I think I might be allergic to this scarf, but it’s cute and warm so I’m wearing it anyway.” This is what we call FORESHADOWING.
8:31: Ugh, it’s one of those days at the train station. So many people, so little space. My station has those announcements that alert you to when the next train will be arriving. This brings comfort on some mornings, rage on others.
8:32: The train arrives. It’s packed so tight I feel like I’m back in Tokyo even though I’ve never been to Tokyo or anywhere remotely close to it. I’ve still got time; you’re not squeeeeeezing me thru zat tiny door. (that was supposed to be the German lady from Willie Wonka saying that).
8:33: “The next train will arrive in seven minutes.” Cue collective groan.
8:35: A cool-looking 20-something girl is eyeballing my scarf. It’s sold out everywhere. I could probably get 60 bucks on ebay for this thing.
8:40: I reluctantly board the bloated train. There are people touching me on all sides of my body. One sudden jolt and this car becomes a mosh pit. I excuse myself, and reach over a young woman’s head to grab the pole. I’ve tried riding freestyle on crowded trains before and it always ends in tragedy.
8:42: I am stuck in an armpit sandwich. We all are. We are all the meat and we are all the bread. You would think this routine would bond us. It doesn’t.
8:45: Thiiiiiiiiiiiisssss traaaaaaaaiiiiin isssssssssssss ssssssooooooooo slowwwwwwwwwwwwww. My arm cramps.
8:47: It’s mornings like this when my mind wanders and begins imagining other possibilities for my life. What about a cute cabin upstate? Or a McMansion in the midwest? A trailer in the middle of nowhere? All of those options would be cheaper than purchasing a residence in this area, and whatever mode of transportation I’d require to get around my new town would no doubt be more comfortable than shooting myself through a tunnel at the bottom of the river in a crowded tuna-fish can.
8:50: Damn. I think a fiber from my scarf has lodged itself behind my contact lens. Commence one-eye squinting.
8:51: Shit. This is very uncomfortable. I would like to touch my eye or make a go at removing this scarf but I can’t move my arm. There’s a man on my right who’s standing so close that lifting my elbow would give him a black eye.
8:52: The same song has been playing on my phone for the last ten minutes because I haven’t been able to change it. If I hear Chandelier one more time I might have to lift my arm and give my neighbor a black eye.
8:55: Passengers disembark. I’m able to move over to an area with more space. I’m facing a reflective wall and take a look at myself. Holy hell. My eye looks like a cherry tomato at the end of July. Extremely ripe.
8:56: My eye starts to water. Not a drip, a gushing leak. My nose follows suit. The first case of Ebola in NY was announced last night. The girl sitting below me is probably googling “Can I get Ebola from a dork’s tears?”
9:05: I move my sunglasses from the top of my head to the bridge of my nose. It doesn’t make me look cool. A river of eyeliner is snaking down my right cheek. I look sad and twitchy. I want to ask the universe why I am having this reaction to a cool-looking scarf favored by 20-somethings. It doesn’t seem fair. I wasn’t trying to get away with ripped shorts. I knew I couldn’t pull off crop tops. It was just a scarf, a trendy scarf, and my body rejected it.
9:06: I realize my youth is over.
9:10: We’re only at 5th avenue. There’s no way I’m making this seminar on time. I can’t imagine walking into the classroom with my eye looking and feeling like this. I think I actually need to go back home, throw away this scarf and rip out my contact.
9:20: I get off at Times Square station, nowhere near my intended destination. I’m thinking of going home, but I can’t wait that long to get this crap out of my eye. I crouch down on the floor, take out a tiny mirror and some saline solution and get to work right there. I’m far from a germaphobe, but am well aware of how unsanitary it is to go from touching a subway pole to touching my eye.
9:22: I think I can skip going home, so I head back downtown. My vision’s a little blurry. I take a quick tumble down the stairs into the tunnel, but pull myself together. I can’t remember which curse word I yell, but i’m pretty sure it was the good one.
9:25: Downtown train arrives. Take a seat. A three-piece mariachi band begins to march through the car. I would rather hear Chandelier for the 9th time than hear mariachi music before 10 am.
9:26: The seminar starts at 9:30, and I’m clearly not making it. I set the example for student interns everywhere and decide to skip class and take myself out for breakfast. I’ve stuffed my trendy scarf in my handbag, as far as possible from my sweet, innocent eyes.
9:45: I’m at a hip French chain with a nice atmosphere. If I’m going to skip class, I’m going full-on Ferris Bueller. I count the number of times “organic” is scribbled on the walls. It’s 18. We get it, your shit is fresh.
9:50: There’s a big chalkboard wall highlighting today’s menu items. It includes organic kale juice, a quinoa salad and $10 avocado toast. That’s bread, toasted and smeared with avocado for $10. Just make it stop.
9:55: I order a pot of regular coffee and a plain croissant.
I am done with trends for the day.