I find it ironic that Clinton-Washington Station sits at the corner of a church. Descending the steps, I see the sign signifying, “G TRAIN.” It covers the church's angelically white spire with its blackened ceiling, signifying that I may be entering a place I soon will learn I can't escape. Through the vocal “whoosh” of the subway car, heat washes through my body.
“The train’s here,” I think, jumping the turnstile – a world where getting from one place to another is free, how nice would that be? Yet another descent leads me to walls covered in adverts, most of which are graffitied. The first one I notice is an ad for lingerie where the woman modeling has the word “SLUT” written above her. The mocking of capitalism lurks everywhere I go, station to station.
Waiting for the train, I see a rat rummaging through a pile of trash on the tracks – a home of cigarette butts,plastic water bottles, and potato chip bags. As the train approaches, a triumphant hum courses my ear drum before the train eventually squeaks to a skittish stop. From the dim cave of plastered advertisements and unwarranted heat, I enter a capsule of effervescent blue. I look around to see most people sitting, some people standing. I contemplate the places they may be headed toward: work, home, school, a date. It's the vastness of a space like this that leads me towards the purpose of the place we call New York City.
The sharp sound of a door slamming interrupts the conversation in my mind. At the end of the car, a man conjures from the subway's end door. I'm never quite sure of what will happen once I see that door open and slam. Before I can even begin to think, he takes out a boombox and announces that we subway travelers are, “In for a show!” Through the rattling of the car’s maneuvers, hip hop music blasts off the scribbled walls. The man contorts his body into unfathomable shapes, disjointing his limbs to the beat of the music. He shuffles himself down the aisle holding a cup for change between his hovering toes. I reach into my purse, rummaging for a spare dollar. As he approaches, I drop the dollar into the cup and he gives me an appreciative wink. Once he makes it towards the end of the car, I hear the all-telling slam of the door before the muffled announcement of, “You're in for a show!” yet again. As I approach my stop, I stand to balance myself on the silver pole by my seat. With the two chimed bells of the doors opening, I step onto the platform of waiting passengers. There they stand: the combination of tourists and NYC natives waiting to board the train of their dreams or possibly their nightmares, all the way to Eden.
Art by Mackenzie Thomson