I sink my hand, deeper and deeper, into my bag to find the key. Ah! There it is, buried somewhere in between my journal, camera, book, more books. I scan the apartment one last time – it’s not nearly as clean as I remembered, but I close the door and turn the lock anyways.
Down the stairs I weave, circles and circles, until five stories lower when I reach the great outdoors. The air smells stiff like city. It is Manhattan, after all.
I move briskly: left on Charles Street, right on Bleeker. My headphones shield me from natural noises: the pinching scream of the taxi horn, the tap of the trendy shoes moving across the sidewalk, the clink of the few coins in the homeless man’s cup. He sits there everyday; today I give him a dollar. Passing Christopher, my fruit stand man waves to me. Not today! I smile and wave and continue left on W. 4th, then underground I go.
The turnstile is jammed with tourists. Damn tourists. Am I a tourist? No, I live here.
I swipe through and immediately regret my decision. The humid air hugs me tightly, tighter and tighter, and suffocates until I can barely stand to breathe in. But I still have one more platform to descend. I don’t know where I’m going, but I don’t feel lost. What does it mean to be lost?
I watch as the train doors slide shut before I reach the entrance and the silver bullet whizzes past my eyes. My mind wanders as I wait, longer and longer, for the next F to arrive.
Eventually the train’s horn bellows through the tunnel. I rush on; the cool air makes me feel alive. My eyes are closed, my music is loud, my thoughts are ever-present. One stop, two stops, three stops, four.
I open my eyes and ascend up. The air smells fresh.
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