During the week the streets are full. Waking up early you rush out into the bitter cold air. A power walk to the closest metro station, or the one a little further so you don’t have to make the impossible transfer. Brushing through business men in fancy suits and adolescents in school uniforms. You weave in and out of smells; freshly baked bread and hot coffee, hobos, urine and trash. Every pocket of air holds something new and “special.” Making your way between a stout elderly woman selling band-aids for 500 pesos and a “blind” woman with a perfectly matching and even fashionable outfit and well-coifed hair. She is holding a cane, wearing dark shades, and singing a haunting tune in a simultaneously angelic and scratchy-throat voice. You listen, close, captivated, unsure if the words coming from her lips are in Spanish or some indigenous alliterative language.
Beeping, open, shut, click, once underground in the station as the people scan their metro cards and click through to climb down once again. Until you are amongst unique swarms of people. You see the train in the opposite side of the track and you know that what awaits you will be difficult. Once your train pulls up you see the countless people in an Eleanor Rigby scene. Smoshed in against the window panes. The doors open, maybe 7 or 10 people squeeze their way out, seemingly out of nowhere, you know now is the time. You fight and push your way into the vacant tiny spaces before the train gets a chance to rearrange itself. Absorbing the space as if nothing had happened, making it in before the doors close. There’s someone touching your butt and you aren’t sure with what part of their body. You can smell everyone’s colognes, perfumes and what they ate for breakfast. The greasy and semi-shaky man to your left is breathing on you. You get a great whiff of his breath in all it’s freshly smoked cigarette glory. As the train speeds down the rails, the sea of people inside bob to and fro with each turn of the tide. The tide of sweat that comes upon you as you reach for the metal bar to regain your balance, and not lose your breakfast, even though the bar is warm and somehow about 5 other mysterious hands are touching yours, though you can’t see the bodies that belong to them.
Baquedano. The stop where you would’ve had to make the transfer had you not huffed it 5 blocks further to the red line. The doors open, no one gets off. Five brave people smoosh their way in, knowing they can’t afford to lose another five minutes of their commute. Someone’s elbow jabs into you, another steps on your pinky toe leaving dirt on your shoe. You interchange between glancing at the time and staring at the chart on the wall that depicts the rail lines and stops. Four more to go. Three more. Two more… One… Hallelujah! Popping out you feel as though you have been born again. Except as a more flustered, red-faced version of yourself. Climbing the steps, feeling the burn, you pass the same guy as always on your way out. He has on a doctor’s mask and is holding a sign, “I have brain cancer, please help me.” He is ringing a bell. One day you came down this same stop at about 1pm, when the metro isn’t so busy. Only to see the same guy walking away from his usual post. He has no mask, revealing a fresh, healthy face and a giant sack full of coins.
Out above ground now you resume your gentle yet vigorous power walk, only six more blocks to go! You check your phone and dab your face, hoping you aren’t too sweaty or blotchy or too heavy breathing so as to ruin your proposed professional look and attitude. Carefully tousled hair now pulled back into a high bun.
You arrive at 8:59, exactly. Thinking of days back in Michigan, when you had to start your car and scrape the glass. Maybe even shovel snow out from the wheels before you begin a slippery journey. Perhaps you have no gas or didn’t clean your headlights well enough. At least you can put on the radio or whatever music you like. Or talk on the phone or pick your nose for that matter. The grass, or morning commute is always greener and more efficient on the other side of sweaty/in-need-of-another-shower-because-you-smell-that-old-lady’s-perfume-who-bumped-into-you-all-freaking-day…. or just being cold, getting snow in your boots or on your pants, waiting for the heat to warm up and then almost spinning out as you leave your driveway. Then you think- but at least in summer it’s freaking awesome to drive with the windows down! Yet my car isn’t good for the environment and being so sedentary isn’t good for my body… Screw it, I am getting a bike!