I take the LIRR once a week in order to make myself to out to long island to tutor a 36-year-old conspiracy theorist, veteran, with marital problems in precalculus. During these trips I bring a writing book to keep me company. This is what that attempt at masking my loneliness has produced:
Three seats in front of me sits a boy and a handheld game. He needs the full experience of his game; entering tunnel sounds, jumping for coin sounds, complaining to his mom about how the game cheats sounds and all.
I sit, staring out my window, with only the faint sounds of my pen scratching against paper to comfort my desire to be productive.
It is a dreary November day – we’re past the point where the changing leaves make the outside world into a constant rainbow of foliage, yet before the point where cloudy white pillows of snow will blanket the ground. The sun has no desire to see our monotonously grey landscape and has allowed the clouds to blindfold its view.
The kid is now crying because he let his mother play and she lost his final life. She is laughing. I am crying on the inside because my paycheck is a week late, meaning I have to continue to try to survive on the $1.78 left in my bank account (a fact more difficult to swallow knowing that I need $6.50 to buy a ticket back from Long Island). I am laughing on the outside because my life is relatively simple and I’m worried about the lack of beauty in the landscape I pass by.
There was a Hawaiian-shirted man driving his convertible jaguar with a toy dog yapping out his side window and a pipe in his mouth. That is an eclectic group of things that I don’t like together. THere was a man with bling draped around his neck as he read War and Peace in a playground. That is an eclectic group of things I do like together.
I’m on the LIRR and a high school class is coming back from a field trip. The entire class is Black. Both teachers are White. It reminds of my work at a café where we have sing-alongs for the local children three mornings a week. African-American nannies crowd the café with their white child obligations getting sung to by some hipster guitarist. They sang “Wheels on the Bus” yesterday. At one point in the song the sort of bearded ma with the guitar sings: “The bus driver says: ‘Go to the back of the bus, go to the back of the bus!'” I felt uncomfortable making any lattes and then comforted myself by considering the mixing of dark brown espresso and white milk a metaphor for how society should function. Sure there is less espresso, but even if there is an overwhelming amount of milk, the overall color reflects both pieces equally.