Subway reflections

I’ve been writing little notes like this to myself on the subway lately, trying to use my time for personal creation rather than passing my subway time wholly consuming things others have created (and/or playing Candy Crush).

Today I’m headed to Coffeed to work for a few hours with my cousin, a longer jaunt than my usual coffeeshop-office commute, but worth it for the change of scenery and the companionship. I am noticing the vast array of humans I see on the train today, the diverse cast of characters that live and work alongside me.

In most of the media I consume, “diversity” is used as a shorthand for “racial diversity,” which I don’t think is a bad thing necessarily, but living in Brooklyn has opened my eyes to diversity in a more general sense. There is more racial diversity here than anywhere else I’ve lived, yes (less so in my neighborhood specifically, but definitely in my borough as a whole), but there is diversity of so many varieties. I started typing this on a subway car (Queens-bound G train), and I can hear multiple languages being spoken around me. There are young people wearing super trendy clothes and older people in rumpled polyester. Now that it’s summer, there’s a wide range of how much skin people show. Some of us have sunglasses on, or headphones, some are reading newspapers and paperbacks and Kindles; we all like to pass our train time differently. We have varying standards when it comes to hygiene, how one should smell in public, whether or not it’s polite to eat and drink on public transportation. That difference of manners and customs is perhaps the most diverse trait of all that I encounter. On the train, some stare solemnly ahead, even when we are with friends or family, while others speak loudly enough to be heard at the other end of the car, or play music loudly enough to hear every lyric.

I still feel a sense of commonality, despite the diversity–or maybe the diversity causes me to seek out more similarities. We all walk, we all rely on these loud, annoying, essential trains to hurtle us through the underground to our respective destinations, we all call this crazy city our home. This mix of anonymity and community is something I didn’t really grasp until I moved here, but it’s something I really love.


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