Here I am again. Usually, I hate the monotony of this daily dance towards the office. The bus ride is usually smooth. The BART is the worst part of things. We unenthusiastically file into this mobile metal tube and throw ourselves into our normal distractions. People hop on their phones, others make sure their music mutes the rest of the world.
All is normal on this front. I step into the train, I have Boyz II Men blasting old-school joy into my ears, and I have my latest novel on my Kindle. I’m all stretched and ready to play the human puzzle of fitting in without inappropriately touching anyone else or inviting opportunities for neighboring bodies. Awkward arm up, shoulders at a different angle than legs and feet. Perfect?
Then you step into the train at the next stop and immediately, I register: “pretty black girl” and put my head back down. Somehow you settle right in front of me, which is no big deal. I get back to my book, but between this one and the next stop, I can’t help but notice how good you smell. I don’t know what it says about general society, seeing that I’m a daily commuter, but I never notice good smells that stand out.
Immediately, I’m appreciative of whatever your morning routine is. Being on this train, butts to nuts, is usually the bane of my mornings but I figure that if people always smell this nice it might not be that bad. I could definitely get through this. After another stop, I’m done reading my book and I’m just imagining the morning routines of all of my neighbors. Based on the look of the guy next to me, he rushed out of his house, worried about missing a meeting, the way he keeps looking at his watch.
Then somewhere along the ride, I close my eyes and imagine writing a poem about the joy of a morning commute. I can suddenly see the beauty of every individual on the train as my eyes sweep over them. Am I delirious from a lack of sleep, or just suffering from hunger? I’m noticing my surroundings and taking a moment to appreciate them. Usually, I’m distracted enough by my book or music to fit right into the perfect anti-social sweet spot required for public transportation. Not that I’m against the idea of opening up to my fellow rider or anything.
Also, taking a look at my fellow riders makes me feel a rush of sympathy towards people and I have the feeling of understanding how society is supposed to work. I can be in my own little bubble, but I miss out on depending on people. I miss out on the social niceties that come along with growing friendships and relationships. For the first time in a really really long time, I think about how I miss the feeling of a hug. How I miss spending time with someone who smells nice, sharing observations about the small things with someone and laughing about how silly they may or may not be.
Then the door opens and the spell is broken. Off I go into the world. For once it’s with less of a grumble and more of a feeling of gratitude and an excitement about what the day is going to hold, instead of a sense of accomplishment because of what I just had to survive.