It's a quarter to six. I rub the sleep out of my eyes the same way I always do every morning and grab my phone as it's in the constant buzz it finds itself in every morning around this time. I program my alarms to say something pleasing, something nice, something that will make me feel better about the day.
After brushing my teeth, making and pouring my coffee, and getting dressed I sit on a bus for forty-five minutes to Manhattan, New York. I'm just one wave in a sea of faces on the bus. We ebb and flow, back and forth, trying not to fall asleep but we all do anyway. Our heads knock back and forth in an awful rhythm. In a rhythm that represents how unhappy we are to be sitting here, next to strangers instead of friends. And then I, too, fall asleep. When I wake up, we're already through the Lincoln Tunnel and the cold gray buildings surround the "steel horse" Bon Jovi proudly rides on. I pull the earbuds out of my head and stumble my way to the front of the bus as it's still moving. It's almost as if I'm walking up and down an old boat while it's being carried farther and farther away from land. And in a way, that's what I'm doing. Internally, my brain shuts off and I go into auto-pilot. I'm in auto-pilot because I have twenty blocks to walk and I don't want to think. I want to move and make it to work on time for once.
But that doesn't happen. My mind races left and right. I don't want to get hit by a bus or a cab or a cyclist. I don't want to accidentally bump into another person, a business man in front of me, dressed in a way that says, "Yes, I make more money than you. But I will still dress casually as if to say, 'hey, we're actually the same' even though I know and remind myself that I, yes, make more money than you do". I don't want to bump into the endless couples spending the day together in the "big city". I spend everyday walking up and down the same strip of concrete. Someone that once lived, someone important, or someone I look up to may have walked this same street. And these couples, the ones holding hands and smiling and wearing matching tee-shirts that announce that they aren't from New York but actually from New Mexico (as if we couldn't tell by the way you walk at a pace that's considered fast in your town but in ours it's slower than we could ever imagine) are walking these same streets. But they aren't thinking about the past and how it affects our present. They're thinking of each other. They don't have anything else to think about at the moment. I stare at their hands, clasped together tight. I watch them look at each other and laugh about the homeless man on the street who is drooling on himself. I listen in on their conversation about their cat back at "home" and how they don't want him/her to knock over the really expensive vase that Aunt Kathy gave them as a housewarming gift. I secretly hope that their cat does, in fact, break that vase. I look down at my own hands. One of them has a cigarette between the index and middle finger and the other is swollen and scarred and anything but useful. I wonder what it would be like, to hold a hand. Anyone's hand. A hand that wants to hold mine back. And I think about why this isn't something that happens to me. I think about the way I've defined myself as a loner, outcast, and rebel. I start to believe the lie that I tell the people I've met. But then, I remember my alarm. I remember who I actually am.
There are people that love you. There are people that love you. There are people that love you.
I remember that. And smile.