One thing I couldn’t help but worry about since moving here last month was looking like I belong. Everyone is so stylish. So calm. So God damn… COOL. I didn’t want to look like the new kid at school and end up stuffed in a locker. Stylish I could do. Simply by chance I had the beard, and then I really just had to roll up the bottom of my jeans to show a little ankle.
But how the fuck am I supposed to appear cool and calm when the map of all the subway lines looks like a plate of half-eaten spaghetti? I wanted to grab people by the ears and yell in their faces, “HOW ARE YOU READING? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHERE THIS TRAIN IS GOING?!” I wouldn’t do that though, and besides, they would probably say they do know where the train is going and that’s why they’re reading.
After a few days of stressing about everything, I made the decision that no matter how sweaty my armpits are, no matter how much I’m stress-crying on the inside, I would just own it. Accidentally on an Uptown Express train when I needed a Downtown Local? Fuck it, I’m reading my Stephen King novel with my legs crossed like I go to 168th St every damn day.
Every wrong turn, every wrong train I boarded was a chance to check out a place I hadn’t been. I wandered every chance I got in the first couple weeks. You see, moving to New York City is like George W. Bush’s presidency. If you pretend you know what’s going on, eventually enough people will believe it and you’ll get a second term.
I am now thirty-four days into my New York City journey and the subway map looks a lot less like spaghetti and my pretend calm is gradually turning into real calm. Maybe, eventually, I’ll even be someone newbies see and wonder how I could be reading on the train.