Oh exciting, how adventurous!
To be up before dawn cracks the sky and the air has settled into a veil of heat or stiffening chill, depending on time of the year. Hurried for hair, the clothes you’ll carry on for the next nine hours is what you’re out in in the crowded, rushing world— as if anyone shall notice. Showered the night before to save time. give fifteen minutes before makeup to let the puffiness leave the face. If there’s time make a coffee in the kitchen, have a toast or two, sprinkled with brown sugar on butter or smother them in strawberry jam. Breakfast at home is nice— but usually rushed. Sometimes breakfast is elsewhere: the Alpine Bakery by the BART station or minutes before getting to work with fists full of something pulled from the kitchen into plastic baggies while sitting on the bus. Sometimes breakfast doesn’t exist at all.
The same place greets you every morning. It’s looking shabby now, just as tired as every man and woman in pea coats, pinstripe trousers, and anchored by backpacks and brief cases. They stand in line. They want to sleep but need to feel awake. Coffee doesn’t cut it any longer.
Don’t forget, you’re one of them!
And though one of the bunch, chance is not forgiving nor generous. The dented rusty white cars of the SFO-bound 6:57 halt at the yellow line along the brown markers of the platform, and its doors open. The air is heavy and humid and the North Concordians and Pittsburgers are scattered and got dibs. The best seats are four facing each other, or it’s standing. Those without a soul or a sheer common sense take up the vacant ones right along the doors; exceptions to these are the pregnant or disabled or elderly. How grand, to fit in one of those categories for a presidential op!
A lucky break today, because the middle window seat awaits! The new vinyl upholstery: it’s blue and looks quirky with that Jackson Pollock-esque print all over. But to take a seat on it is firm yet plush— and a slipping texture feels more sanitary than the dingy disgusting old upholstery before.
And how the minutes pass, the cities go by. the window may be filmy from dust and dirt but houses and headlights still seem to dance like a periscope. And where’s the light? None, just you— magnificent, no? You are a god— braving the night so that your early start will make the day for someone somewhere. You say this to comfort your irk, fatigue, and the crowds of everyone here like you. We’re nothing like the mortals that wake and begin and 9.
The car moves along through time, where the sky lightens and the leggy palm trees scattered across the sides don’t seem scary anymore when they’re not black shapes— to see their heads hung in the night shadow in the early AM is to take on on where they’ve nodded off.
Strange how it all happens, the yawns, ear pops beneath tunnels of Oakland and the waters of the Bay— and iPhone alarms going off because they’ve been on snooze the whole time— and how worlds collide, flat lands and disco-day rooftops rising into bricks and mirrored skyscrapers behind billboards of chipping paper. Imagine having ridden for so long you know that there’s a cemetery on that deep green hill miles away from the tracks. The awareness grows of when street lights seem like the sun for those seconds in the blueness of the sky, because right after it’ll be day and the lights know their place now and shut off.
How curious it happens that you know, that it is all over and all else begins.