One of the hardest parts of living in New York is how long it takes to get anywhere. I’m not saying I’d like to be driving to work—I’d much rather keep my fifteen or so minutes of walking and twenty minutes on the train reading than be stuck in traffic (or have to finish learning to drive)—but sometimes a commute can become downright frustrating. My first two years in New York, I lived off the G train. The easiest route to work, with cross-the-platform transfers, involved three trains.
Then I moved, and it only took one train to get me to my office. I moved again, and again I took one train, and managed to get a seat every day—until construction forced me to transfer to a crowded express train. Sometimes the express skips my stop and I’m back to three trains. Reading is a challenge on such a crowded, claustrophobia-inducing ride, and when you’re constantly getting on and off trains it’s hard to focus on a book.
But. The express train goes across the Manhattan Bridge, and as I went one day, the lack of seats left me perfectly positioned to watch the Statue of Liberty pass the window as the sun made its way toward the horizon, and I thought, maybe it’s worth it, this bother, if I get a few more rides like this, where I’m reminded that the sun and the water and the Manhattan skyline make a lovely view.
And when I do get a seat, or even when I don’t, if I have the right book, a subway ride can pass without me noticing how long it’s taken. Just me and my book, the way I used to be with reading before I discovered Netflix. The subway ride is the perfect place to escape from, into a book, especially when I’m jostling elbows with the woman next to me or straining to reach the overhead bar.
So as much as I look forward to October, when I can just sit on one train with my nose in a book, right now I’ll try to enjoy the ride. Today as we crossed the bridge I thought the city looked unreal, like something I was seeing in the swooping opening credits of a movie, or like an oversided Panorama. Maybe next week I’ll watch it disappear into fog.
What are your favorite (and least favorite) parts about your commute, in NYC or elsewhere?