I hate you like I love you, New York City Subway.

Dear Reader, I love New York City, but I have to admit that I don’t really enjoy its subway system…It all started when I was a teenager. I was around 16 years of age when my stepfather took my brother and me for a walk around Astoria, Queens.

The old man carried yellow grocery bags from the Fairway Market on the corner. My brother, about 4 years old then, had a little toy car, a yellow New York City taxi.

I can’t remember what I had, or how I was dressed. It all appeared to have been erased from my memory the moment the subway passed above us. The noise shook the ground. Pigeons flew all over the place. Grey feathers spread everywhere. Immediately my nose protested, “achoo.”

A new layer of feathers had joined the gum and bird poop on the ground. And I had joined millions of people sharing their lives with the New York Subway.

I thought that my subway life initiation would get me to understand, and maybe even appreciate the giant, metallic worm coming in and out of the ground. But it only got worse.

The unapologetic men who pushed me to a side to get a ride on the 8 a.m subway, suddenly looked taller and stronger.

The bad breath grew thicker, almost tangible. I even developed some kind of hot breath allergy. My eyes get watery and my nose feels funny.

Now, when I’m not wearing an industrial respirator, I can sense bad breath — three sits away. Maybe one day, I’ll get to hear its voice. The voice of hot breath.

Those crowds. Oh God. They are larger and tighter than ever. There used to be space for my 8-inch-long feet. I even got space in front of me to fully open the pages of the New York Times. Not anymore. The men who yells “excuse me,” signals that my feet are… too long? And that front page story will not continue on page A12. I don’t have space to turn the page.

God, only you know how many times I’ve asked you to please get me out of there. Out of that New York Subway. Remember the day I woke up to the image of a man holding his intimate parts, at full display, in front of children and my scared eyes? That was scarier than the black, cat-sized rat that appeared to be mesmerized by my beige shoes. And even scarier than the time the subway driver announced “two customers are sick,” all during the 2014 global Ebola panic.

New York Subway, don’t think that I don’t notice the times a gentlemen offers me a seat, or those genuine smiles hidden behind shoulders, hair and silver poles. Also, I truly love the children with all their contagious laughter. I just don’t like it when they sneeze next to me.

Look, I’ll tell you this in a New-York second, but don’t take this the wrong way. You are a tough New Yorker. You know what I mean? One could even say that you have an explosive and dangerous attitude. But I know that behind those squeaky wheels, isolated underground routes, and constant hurry, there’s an apple-shaped motor — eager to share an unforgettable journey.

I love you but, still hate you. I still do.

Until next time Dear Reader.

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