Trainride to Philadelphia
At 2:50 PM, I put down my guitar, picked up my backpack, and walked out the door. Late again. Somehow, whenever I am in a place I call home, surrounded by the fetish-objects I’ve invested pieces of myself in, time slips away, distractions multiply, and I can never get out of the house. I have lost whole months of my life in this way, distracted by toys. I wonder if I will miss those months one day? How can I miss what I never had?
Still, it’s the day before election day, and since my absentee ballot never came, I have to make my way south to Philadelphia and go vote at the Old Original Polling Place one last time, exercising the lucky franchise of a swing-stater (a dubious privilege since it means I must share my home state with loyal oppositioners; still, fellow-travelers make me nervous as well–surrounded by the like-minded, I fear I’m not getting the whole story and can’t accurately guage the national mood).
So I hop on the subway, slipping through the revolving metal barred turnstile just as the 1 pulls up. I walk down, hoping to get in a less crowded car, but stand anyway, glancing helpless at the three attractive girls my age sitting a few feet from me. They speak in Spanish and are handing back and forth medium-sized handdrawn posters that look like blown-up greeting cards by way of an indie rock album’s cover art. I look away and I look back–drawn by either some residue left over from my bachelor days or alternatively by some still lingering question about that whole “one and only” business I’ve got going with my girlfriend, the girlfriend I love and have just left this morning.
I get off at 32nd St, Penn station, fall in line behind a mother and her young four-year-old daughter–I walk slowly, a secret protector, letting them go before me. I turn around, walk up some stairs and then I’m right in the deep dark middle of the great station, Penn Station