Sunday, October 12, 2014

Commute thy sentence

Yesterday I turned on a space heater and made soup.

These seemingly mundane tasks tell a story. While most people would dismiss them as soon as they happened, I am dwelling on them. Outside, the sky is dull, the kind of dull that hides the earth from airplanes, and though the trees are still green and flowers still grow, they, too, show signs of listlessness. Inside, I am hiding from October.

I do not like the time when death comes to the world around me. Once, it meant back-to-school and Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now it only means cold and drear and barren trees and thick clothing and being imprisoned indoors. Right now, before the real cold has even arrived, I feel like Spring will never come, that this is how life will always be - covered skin, false heat, the drear, oh, the drear.

I had a back-to-school of sorts a few weeks ago when I started a new job. The firm is out in Herndon, Virginia, technically a suburb of DC but way the hell out there. Now, I am one who always said, "Live where you work." I would if I could. I didn't choose this; it chose me. Finding a job in DC was proving rather difficult for several reasons, and anyway, Chris and I love our neighborhood, though not so much the actual dwelling place, and the rent we pay will allow for me to save some money. He works downtown, so moving closer to my office isn't fair to him, either.

It's an hour and a half each way. I'm spending three hours a day on trains and buses, and it's already getting to me. Now, the morning commute I don't mind so much, although it's getting up so early that is the biggest problem of the entire commuting business. I'm not a morning person. I never have been. It's scientific fact that some people don't function well in the morning, and that some need more sleep than others. At least the length of the commute gives me enough time to wake up a bit. I take my coffee on the train and try to stimulate my brain, first with the commuter paper crossword puzzle, then a book. By the time I've reached the Wiehle stop to catch the bus to my office, I'm ready for my daily Lumosity games. (Seriously, these work. I've seen marked changes in my concentration level and quicker thinking. I'm going to purchase a subscription, I think.)

In the beginning of commuting, I created an Instagram account. It started as an attempt to make fun of hipsters and the crappy images that people post on Instagram. I even wrote "Commuter chronicles on Hipstergram" in my profile description. But it's turned into something else, a challenge to find something unique in a quotidian ritual, a commentary on the way we organize our society. It really is a challenge. But there is something oddly appealing about many of the photos I've been taking, something that captures the essence of life in Western society. A sunset on the Metro, for example, seen at the right. This was one of the earlier images I captured, when I was still intent on doing the hipster thing. But when I took it, it was a real moment. I felt a bit of awe, even amidst the suburban sprawl. There was another time when the moon was as big as The Ritz and it jumped from side to side as the train twisted and turned through the modern Virginian landscape. That was really something. 

Most of the shots are in or around the Metro system, obviously. It really is a gorgeous system, if you're into aesthetics. I like to play with the reflections while inside the train. This is when the Instagram filters become useful rather than just a way for hipsters to make a bad photo seem "artsy." 

The captions are important to me, too. I'm not just going to take a photo for the sake of taking a photo. A photo is a story, and, unlike when I initially started using Instagram, the images I am capturing are taken for a reason. Stuck on the tracks. Waiting to transfer. Where I used to live. Just wanting to get home. Then there are the societal things - the McDonald's Citibank, the warnings of underground dangers, the endless advertisements, the ugliness of concrete. 

I don't see the world like most people. I see more of it. I see the details. It's going to be a challenge to find something new as the commute becomes just a part of my day, but I think I can keep it up. Finding the sacred in the profane. The unique in the mundane.

But back to the space heater and soup. I went to the farmers market and bought seemingly one of everything to put into the soup. It wasn't that cold, but as soon as I opened the door to go to the market, the chill put soup into my mind. That was my Saturday. Soup and sleep. Boy did I need the sleep. And the soup.

Hey, look, the sun just came out!

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