Today I take the day away from obligations and productivity to proclaim it mine.
The black ribs and spines of the train’s tracks lead to the horizon. I stand solitary at the edge of the platform, and squint in the bright snap, the cold first of spring. I am lone at the Greenwich station on a Monday afternoon, while everyone else in the entire world slaves away in a cubicle.
I see a slight, slow shift beyond the cover of the doors in the interior sitting area. Then one more. And once again. From people who do not work there, who are, in fact, not working at all. Those there, unlike those that preceeded them at rush hour, are not glancing at their watches and sharply swiveling their heads from side to side in an effort to glimpse an oncoming train. They are tranquil. They’re relaxed, sleeping, texting.
They exude peace, not worry at time or urgency or where they are going to and why, even for a moment. I seem to be the only one concerned with any of this (don't they have somewhere to be?).
On more than one occasion I’ve stepped into a sharp day, grumbled my way through stairways and past storefronts to arrive at my final destination; slightly rumpled and a few minutes too late. After a few hours in front of the nuclear glow of a monitor, an errand, a craving takes me outside.
I’ve seen them there. On the outside. Those reading, those lounging, those living on a Monday.
They bask in warm slats of sunshine through paned glass, idly raising a cup of hot chocolate—steaming in clouds—to their mouths, mid-sentence, eyes still wild from the promise of climax and crux of a story to come, tapping slim fingers on a sleek Vaio—click, click, click—in the middle of the morning.
With rosy cheeks, they fling off a rainbow of scarves, puffer vests, and tweed overcoats. They order strawberry cheesecake at ten in the morning if they desire, no thought to the time of day or caloric content, their books and square journals clasped in their able hands, their bags heavy but their loads light, and sit, as though their appointments have all taken them here, to this moment, where they are only to sip and to smile.
Who are these people?
The ones who have nowhere else to be during the day, who sample espresso with no irony at noon, no disciplined lunch hour and a quick conversation, check of the report later and a scurry back to the boxy buildings on the corner—no, not at all—but with the entire day free to themselves? Even more, their friends meet them. In groups, they congregate. Their bodies give, a soft thump, as they slip into a chair, shake the outside working world from their heads, and beam bright. They are alive, cognoscent, aware. They are.
I've always wanted to be one of them.
Today I take away from obligation and productivity because every time I fed either of the two, they get greedier, hungrier for more and I soon realize that they’ll never be sated. I just need the day away, the day to think, the day to walk. I do what I please, whatever I desire. Yoga, a one-man play, six subway rides, several frigid walks in the blustering wind. Today, I am one of them.
Today I begin to wonder if what I vilify is the act of being unconscious, of being confined, only to experience this city by stolen moments on lunch hour and after dark on the weekdays and after noon on the weekends.
I visit the student center and with a deep melancholy at an experience I took for granted when it was the norm, quietly and without rush, ride the escalator during the school's spring break, and after lost, come upon a quiet study room, where a man (though he must have been only been twenty-six or so) had fallen asleep in the comfort of the silence upon the government-funded couch, one hand limply preventing a pen from falling to the ground, the other deep within his boxers, protecting his most valued possession.
Naps, I forgot about naps. They are a daily ritual for these people, but not for me. I'm not allowed one.
Not tomorrow and not yesterday. But today…I sit down at a marginally comfortable chair, arms intertwined with the straps of my corduroy bag and wool coat. And I listen to the still until it lulls me to sleep. I have nothing to wake up for, nowhere to be, and no one to meet. Not today.
Today...today is all mine.