After living in the city for a while, there are certain tricks you seem to master when it comes to public transportation. As an avid train rider (buses kind of scare me), I’ve learned exactly which part of the track to wait at, so when I get off at my stop, I’ll be the closest to the exit. I’ve grown accustomed to standing, without holding the rails, unless I absolutely have to. If I’m lucky, I always try to sneak a seat at the edge of the bench for more room and to make it easier to weave through a crowd of people to leave.
And, like every New Yorker you’ll see passing time before their ride arrives, I stare down the tracks, waiting impatiently for the train. Somehow, we’re all convinced that if we keep glaring down the dark passageway as we pace in our little areas or bravely lean up against something we probably shouldn’t – not only a train, but our train, will appear faster. Some people, who are far less afraid of falling than I am, basically project themselves to the very edge, just hoping to see a glimpse of the headlights. I’m not sure why this is necessary but no matter how long between swiping my Metro and stepping off the platform, I spend the majority of the time just gazing down the tracks.
Admitting the nature of my wrongs – I must confess that though I’m meant to be a leading lady, I’ve mostly been a lady in waiting. A woman who though she had a good head on her shoulders, her feet planted confidently in the ground, and all of the hope in the world bursting inside of her – she still felt like she was waiting for the pieces to fall together. I was glaring down at my own darkness and emptiness, unsure of when the next great thing or life-altering adventure would come pick me up and take me to my final stop.
Really, I was waiting for my love train to arrive.
This attitude made me an active observer of my life, instead of a participant. Though I was alive, I was not living because I felt like something was missing. And that if only I could catch the sight of the one thing I thought would fulfill all of my desolation, then I’d see the light at the end of the tunnel. That even if I couldn’t actually see the man, if I could rest assured that he was in fact coming, I wouldn’t have to keep waiting for him to get here. I could sit down, relax, and know that within at least an hour, he’d be by my side, and I wouldn’t have to fear falling in love, or to the ground, because he’d be there, no matter what.
But now, as a woman who is less afraid to stand on the brink of tomorrow – I realize there is no need to wait. Haven’t I been more than capable of finding, boarding, riding, and exiting all of the many transitions I’ve experienced? Haven’t I enjoyed the company of myself and content from the buzzing streets of Manhattan? Haven’t I found joy in the laughter of my friends, the surge of inspiration that comes from simply seeing my own byline, or the bravery that blooms from taking chances you know you’d regret if you never did? And even though it is scary and it makes vulnerability necessary, haven’t I been secure enough to open myself up to possibilities and my own desires, regardless of the outcome?
Haven’t I been using my $100+ a month subway pass to ride the love train for a while now? I mean, don’t I love my life? And aren’t I learning to love myself? Haven’t I been at my own stop in my own life? I’ve never needed a man to show me how to get myself from point A to point B – so why would I put on hold all of those things I want to do, places I want to see, and opportunities I want to take, for fear that if I do, I’ll miss the next train to happily ever after?
I don’t want to feel like I’m waiting for my ducks to be in a row, for a ring to be on my finger, for security to be in my heart because I can trust it with someone else – but instead, I want to celebrate the freedom I have to just be me. To simply, selfishly, live my life.
I want to go. I want to see the world. I want to move and run and travel and do. I want to speak Italian fluently. I want to have enough money to give it away. I want to volunteer for months. I want to learn to meditate. I want to go to a restaurant and not look at the prices before anything else. I want to take a cooking class. I want to take dance lessons. I want to have a foreign affair. I want to order an entire meal in another language. I want a puppy. I want French toast. I want to go to JFK and ask where the next flight is going and hop on it. I want to own pretty things. I want my name to be recognizable to the women who think they are not good enough, pretty enough, or interesting enough to have a man. I want them to know they don’t need one. I want them to realize, from me, there is no need to worry, no need to hurry, but to just trust the process. I want them to trust themselves. I want the city to beat me up a couple times, just so I can come back and prove my honor. I want to fulfill all of those things on my bucket list. I want to move from this damn apartment. I want to go to some smoky jazz club and drink champagne. I want to stand on the top of a mountain hundreds of thousands of miles away. I want so much more than I ever thought I wanted.
I want more than simply what the presence, the arrival, of a man can give me. And I know now that I don’t need to anticipate him or prepare for him to come into my life. I can and what’s more, I want, to do so many things…utterly on my own.
Because we all know, somewhere in the deepest corners and hidden crevices of our hearts, that our train will eventually come. Even when it is 3 in the morning and we’ve been waiting for thirty minutes, and our patience is growing weary – when we are busy focusing on other things and least expect it, we see the lights reflecting against the tracks, and feel the relief come over us.
And sometimes, that train happens to be a local one, when we need the express. Or it is going uptown, instead of downtown. Or maybe it is even out of service and passes our stop completely, and we glare at it as it disappears into the night. Nevertheless, we remember, that when in doubt, when we’re exhausted of the lingering, if we need to or if we just want to, we can forget about the next arrival, go above ground, throw our hand in the air, hail a cab, and go wherever we want.
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