Thursday, September 20, 2012

Alice in Wonderland

My own version...

Recently I have been asked a lot of questions from friends about New York City, such as: How is it? What is the best part about it? What is the worst part about it? What is a typical day like? And lately, the only thing I seem to think about in response to all these questions is the subway. The subway is how I get from point A to point B. The subways is the only way to get across the entire island of Manhattan without paying an arm and a leg, and it is the most efficient way to get where you need to be in a timely manner. This week I will have been here for a month and I can already tell you my favorite lines–the 4, 5, and 6–or in a color–the green line. Why do I favor the green line? For one, the cars are newer than on some of the other lines. You can tell when you step onto a newer car because the seats are light blue, the air conditioning is blasting so cold it is an icebox inside, and the lights are brighter.  The announcer is audible and the routes are clearly labeled on a digital monitor to tell you where you are and where you are going. 

When you enter into a subway, it is basically like a scene out of Alice in Wonderland–complete with a whole host of characters. I imagine that Charles Lutwidge Dodgson got the idea of falling into a rabbit hole by entering into the subway on the corner of crazy and insane. Signs point in all different directions and you follow random arrows, letters and colors to (hopefully) get you to where you need to be. Once you are underground, navigating your way through the tunnel to get to your platform, a Cheshire cat is probably not that far from reality. A Mad Hatter–certainly–I see them almost every day. Tweedledee and Tweedledum–pretty sure I am stuck behind them when I am in a rush to make the train or get up out of the subway. And Dodo Birds–let’s be honest–they are everywhere.

I am sure that Chapter 2, Pool of Tears, got its name from how one feels when you are wandering around the tunnels of a subway trying to figure out where you want to go and need to be. Or how you feel when you come up out of a subway to realize you are totally turned around and on the wrong corner. Or how you feel when you get home after a long day and an even longer commute. Or Lutwidge named this chapter after riding the 2, the JMZ or the BDF. These trains are older, and when the doors woosh open, a filmy, dull yellow light fills the stuffy car. An old paper map hangs on a wall, the announcer is next to impossible to hear, and sometimes, the lights randomly turn off and the train comes to a total stop. We have many debates about this, but in my personal opinion, these are my least favorite lines.

And the White Rabbit who is always late–that is just every New Yorker every day. We all are in a white rabbit hurry to get where we need to be. However, I consider myself lucky, because I have what Alice never had–an iPhone 4. Granted, it doesn’t always work underground, but it sure helps get me to and fro without having to be falling into dark holes that I can’t find my way out of. Think how short Alice and Wonderland would have been if she had just had an iPhone? Think of how much more fun she would have had if she had brought a friend with her. Think of how much happier she would have been if she had just enjoyed the moment and gone with the flow? She didn’t really have anywhere she needed to be. She wasn’t in a masters program. She didn’t have an internship she needed to get to. She didn’t have to wait in a long line at Whole Foods to only buy 3 things. She should consider herself lucky. She should have just taken the 4, 5, 6, express train.

In the short time I have been here I would have to say that the best thing that I have seen so far, while waiting for the train, was a pale pink balloon, attached to a white ribbon, that was floating down the dark tunnel along the tracks of the 4, 5, 6. Somehow, in the midst of all the chaos, there was calm and quiet. It was perfect. Beautiful. 

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to."
"I don't much care where –"
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go.”

This cup is for Mandy (twin)–NYC Metro still doesn’t compare to navigating the subways in Japan…that is something I will never forget. 

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