Sunday, April 22, 2012

For The First Time

My son sits quietly as the train clanks from track to track. The morning sun streams into the the mostly empty car. We both squint and stare as the cityscape passes by. The suburban scenery is quickly replaced by advancing urban sprawl.

With each stop, more passengers pile into the sliding metal doors. Apartment buildings and unlucky homes rush by. A hurd of satellite dishes lopes past at the blink of an eye. Signage marks the borders of each neighborhood. First comes Arabic, which quickly gives rise to Vietnamese glyphs. A mix of Spanish and English signals yet another enclave. The stores are more authentic here. Glaringly absent are the cartoonish donkeys or the boasting burritos.

The air grows thick as seats fill. A businessman dressed in an Armani suite sits uncomfortably next to a disheveled homeless man. The clean tailored jacket clings to its owner as if aware of its unkempt neighbor. A Student sits across from us with her head buried in a series of photocopied pages stapled together at the corner. Her eyes dart back and forth between occasional page turns.

Young and old intermix and intertwine. Porcelain skin confronts wrinkles. The athletic youth in workout clothes stands and offers his seat to the elderly woman limping through the aisle as the train begins to lurch forward.

Hands are weighted down by shopping bags, back packs, and electronic paraphernalia. Eyes stare at mobile phones, or Ipads. Heads bob up and down and side to side revealing small white cords leaving the ears and wending their way down into jackets and disappearing out of site.

Over decades the details have changed but the feelings are the same. How long has it been since I took the train? My son doesn't notice that my attention has turned to him. He's too busy inebriated by the sites and sounds of a lazy weekend. My thoughts return to the window, and the world awaiting on the other side.

It's like, for just a moment I can experience the world through his eyes,

and see everything for the first time.

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