Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Then And Now

Before the pandemic, disputes and mayhem used to arise on the trains with some frequency: everyone pushing everyone else in a packed car, sweating and angry to the point of complete interpenetrabilty, people trying to sit in already occupied seats, whole generations of boys and young men for whom gravity was more suggestion than law, twisting themselves into rhythmic, bounding waveforms to the accompaniment of terrible techno for spare change from the bored, captive audiences of the Q train as we trundled over the bridge. 

Sometimes I would pay attention, but more often not, if I could help it. I didn’t want the hassle of feeling responsible for what was going on in the world around me: if people wanted to get heated and start shit, well, that was their business, but please leave me out of it, thanks.

Now other than the occasional mask-shaming, people are mostly silent, and under my mask, I’m free to look at whomever I want: the drowsy workers in all black, the guys in headphones nodding along to thundering beats like davening Jews at prayer, the couple chatting quietly to each other, heads leaning together, telling their infatuation through their eyes.

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