Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Shopping and anonymity in the city

I used to travel miles and miles in the snow and ice, on buses that would regularly break down mid-route, on trains that seemed likely to veer off their elevated tracks, just to look around in H&M or Urban Outfitters, to get a cappuccino in a non-campus, non-Starbucks environment, and to take the occasional peek into Bloomingdales, for that taste of home. Well, now that I'm back in my hometown, I work within maybe a block of all of the above. On my lunch hour I can see what's new at H&M, purchase a sufficiently over-the-top espresso drink, and comb the sale racks at Urban Outfitters, but you know what? I'd rather not. I miss the Reg. I was telling this recently to a fellow Broadview resident whom I ran into two days in a row on the subway. Two days in a row--how weird is that?

Which leads me to my next, equally random thought for this post: There are like a billion people I see regularly who do not, as far as I can tell, work or live where I do. They must work close enough to where I do to either get coffee in the same place in the mornings or take the same train in the evenings. There's black-haired, 60s-glasses, almost-too-chic coffee place woman; super-effeminate but almost 50s-macho coffee place man; the goth-turned-businessman subway man; the naturally blond Asian woman on Park; the superskinny startled-looking German businesswoman... the list might well go on, but I find it hard to remember all these people when not actually seeing them. Thomas Mann's narrator, in either "Death in Venice" or the story that comes right after in my mother's copy of "Death and Venice," refers to the relationship of two people who see each other regularly like this but do not speak for reasons of social convention, I think it was the strangest possible relationship two people can have. That's a bit of a stretch--in Midtown, it would be far odder if social convention encouraged introducing one's self to everyone with an overlapping commute. But nevertheless, keeping track of these people makes me feel very literary, as though I will one day turn them all into characters for a novel. Or, at the very least, list them all in a rambling, going-nowhere blog post.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I suggest you read Paul Auster's Augie Wren's Christmas Story for an interesting take on this day by day intersection of worlds.

Anonymous said...

I suggest you read Paul Auster's Augie Wren's Christmas story for an interesting take on this matter of overlapping worlds.

Anonymous said...

fuck paul auster. didn't we all get enough of him in high school?