I have a rule, be on the subway by 10:30 pm or take a Lyft. But it’s New Year’s Eve so I’m safe. There will be plenty of people on the subway. I can do this.
My confidence, driven by Champagne and wine, makes the subway accessible.
Walking Market Street, I navigate the crowds like my Mini on a country road. No worries, I can get to the subway in a flash. I’m on the right side of the street, headed west. I hope…
Yep. I swipe through the turnstile and wait – for only a minute as the train pulls up. The crowd isn’t the family driven crowd from 6pm making their way to the fireworks. It’s a different crowd, More Philly – diverse, scrappy. A little drunk.
I love this.
I grab a seat at the front of a car. Safe, next to a couple heading west. Who know’s where they’re really headed.
I put in my headphone as Cheryl Crow starts in with Leaving Las Vegas. The perfect tune for a subway ride.
I pass 5th, 8th, and I watch as the Trolley stops of 19th and 22nd light the way to 30th Street Station.
It’s past my time rule. But I’m invisible in my grey hair and slightly wrinkling skin of my late 50’s as I exit the train at my home stop. I know this station. At least I know the way out and in. I feel okay here as long as I stay alert, only keeping one headphone in, the other ear open to the sounds around me.
There aren’t any. It’s quiet tonight.
The cool air hits my face as I climb the steps out of the subway, passing the only homeless person I see setting up their “tent” in the stairwell. The empathic reminder that I am human.
I see the city, in all it’s glory, rise in the lights ahead of me as I come from underground.
I know better than to walk the north side of JFK on my way home. So I hang on the south side. The beggars and homeless set up their lives on the northern side of the boulevard where monetary handouts are negated by the speed of the cars running the lights.
I cross where lights guarantee my safety in their false pretense of safe. I descend the steps, knowing once I reach the bottom the safety of my financial investment awaits my presence. Yes, my neighborhood, in its gentility, guarantees my perceived safety by its sheer existence of concierges, garages and high value in a city where life’s value is based on the covering of your home. Concrete? Mylar? Cardboard?
I go for concrete.
It’s an illusion, I know.
But I love living here.