Friday, October 8, 2010

The Commute

At 8 a.m., RuPaul wakes me up. It’s going to be a good day. But I decide to put my head back down on the pillow for a few more minutes.

At 8:30, Nirvana is pissed that I’m still sleeping, so they throw a little “Mexican Seafood” at me and zap me to life. I have to leave by 9:15.

“Okay, okay,” I say, wiping sleep from my eyes as I sit up and look around my room. It’s a mess, probably. Handbags thrown left and right, yesterday’s rejected outfits piling up on my chair. I hobble into the bathroom and ask my roommate the weather report. Rain? Ugh. Sunshine? Sweetness. I start compiling my outfit in my head. Light colors, tan handbag; dark colors, black handbag. What heels? Boots? What color tights? 8:40 a.m.

I turn on my desk lamp and apply my makeup in the mirror that I sit on top of my pencils. Concealer to cover the number of minutes I should have already been sleeping the night before (30-60). Eyeshadow painted on in spritely strokes. Eyeliner glided smoothly across my lids. Mascara in thick Bettie-Page like swipes. 9:02 a.m. I always think I am going to be late, but that has only happened twice.

Then the clothes, the hair (down unless it’s greasy). I throw together a lunch—one day I brought a whole cucumber with me then cut it in the office and ate it with some hummus; it requires zero effort and it’s healthy—and grab a yogurt which I will then eat with a fork because I can’t seem to remind myself to go buy plastic spoons.

I run my fingers through my hair on my way to the bus stop, and the garbage man tells me “Your hair looks fine!” and smiles. The teamsters on the corner say, “Hey miss, how you doin’ this mornin’?” I smile and keep walking, stepping over the questionable substances on the ground because chances are great they were left by a dog.

As I keep walking, I see nannies taking their child charges to nursery school. The children stretch their hands upwards to hold onto Nanny as their Batman or Dora the Explorer backpacks thump happily on their backs.

The woman with the corgi walks her dog along the gates in front of the apartment building near the bus stop. It is the happiest dog, with its tongue hanging out of its mouth and its bright brown eyes. It always makes me smile, even when I am the most tired.

The bus will arrive 2-8 minutes late, which usually makes for an interesting morning. Especially in the rain when the bus is nearly exploding with people and the bus driver has to actually reject some passengers. But by 9:21 I am on the bus with the dental hygienist who never tucks in her shirt; the older woman with a bright auburn pixie haircut, red lipstick and purple eyeshadow who sits elegantly in her wheelchair as if she was on a sightseeing tour at Disney World; men in their early fifties who still wear pinstripe suits to work; younger men in slick tan trenchcoats; fashionista girls who read Women’s Wear Daily; and many an elderly person with whitish hair and glasses.

If we are not yet on Lexington Avenue by 9:40, I start to worry, but that has only happened twice. I sit and watch all the different people interchange stops—some bolt out of the bus as if they’re on fire, others solemnly press forward as if they’re about to slog through another day. I greet Seventh Avenue with a pulse in my step as I catch the walk sign and make my way toward 54th Street.

Tourists crowd the area, wearing fanny packs and sneakers and “I Heart NY” shirts, stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to read their guidebooks. I brush past them as I head to my building, past the old Chinese Restaurant that now holds a For Sale sign.

Inside the building, I step up the white marble stairs and head to the elevator. The operator presses the button for me, which is a luxury I will never truly get over. I press the button for the eighth floor and change into my heels as the elevator creeps higher to my destination. As the doors ding open, my shoes are on and I trot a few steps to my office. It’s five minutes to ten. My boss is not in yet, so I unlock the door, turn on the lights, and start my day.

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