An Open Letter to a Fellow MTA Commuter

I knew you for seventeen minutes. I knew your name, but only for that fleeting moment before I stepped out of the doors and onto the platform. Each day, there are eight million unique faces in New York City. I may never see yours again, but you inspired me. When you placed your guitar in the overhead rack and sat next to me, you were standoffish and reserved when I asked how long you’d been playing for. We engaged in some awkward small talk, and you admitted that right now, you are closed off from human connections. I thought you were wise and jaded. You just seemed so much older and more cynical, drowning in the sea of conformity that so often sweeps through the city.

As our train coursed onwards, you warmed up to me. You started telling me about your favorite sounds and musical influences. You impressed me with your love of Fleetwood Mac. You explained that college wasn’t for you, that you love to make music, and you wondered somewhat hopelessly if you’d ever get your big break with a record label or a band tour. You were definitely a rule-breaker at boarding school, but not an over zealous rebel You want to devote your life to sharing your passions and thoughts with other people, maybe a musician one day and a therapist the next. Several days ago, you turned nineteen. Several months ago, you graduated high school and immersed yourself into the real world without much thought of what’s in the cards for you, rather, you only know what isn’t.

I know what it feels like to be lost within your own ambitions. I know what it feels like to be disillusioned by your peers and your future when things don’t turn out the way you expect them to. Maybe someone hurt you in high school or your early life, and that’s why you didn’t want to tell me your name. You never told me why you want to be closed off, but I could slowly see you were not as callous as you claimed to be, but I could see that you do want to share yourself with others. After all, in seventeen minutes, you opened my perspective to the souls beneath the blank faces I pass daily in my life. I wonder what you thought for the rest of your ride, if you were confused by my candor and friendliness, or if you took my spot by the window and forgot all about me. I wonder if I will see you again on another day on another train. I wonder if the next time you will feel resolved and satisfied. I wonder if you will abandon your qualms and live your blessed life freely devoid of expectations and disappointments. For someone who seemed so old, you are still so young and full of promise. You represent the struggles we face everyday during this age of trial and try again, how unsure and alone we can feel when we hold the reigns in our hands, but lack the control in our hearts and minds. I will search for you everyday wherever I go and within myself. And if I should see you on the train again, make sure to say hello.

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