City Walking

by Andrea Traietti on October 4, 2018

Creative Non-Fiction

by Connor Zimmerman ’20

“Last stop, everybody! Don’t care where you go, but you can’t stay here!” The conductor’s shout pulls me out of my sleep. The train slowly rolls to a stop at the station, and I drag my body off the seat. I get in the line of people, and we trudge our way through the train till we get to the doors. I put my headphones on and turn the music up to 11. Once I am off the train, I get into one of the infinite lines of people packed together that are trying to make it out of the station. I look at my phone and see that I am late, which means the race has already begun.

I begin to bob and weave through the lanes of people to get out of the station as quickly as I can. One second I am in the middle, and the next I am in the right line. I am merging in and out of lines like I’m driving 80 on the highway at night. The mass of people all quickly become a blur, as everyone becomes indistinguishable. Brown hair becomes blonde, tall becomes short and vice versa. I finally find my way to the exit of the station. Now that I am out, I walk to the stoplight and wait for my race to begin again. Sweat streaks down the back of my neck as the summer heat beats down on me. The light turns red, and I’m out onto the crosswalk faster than the walk sign can come on.

The sidewalks are narrow and packed, but that does not stop me. I twist and turn to lead the pack and to avoid those around me. My head is on a constant swivel, as I avoid people with shopping bags, coffee cups and outreached hands. Even in my fast pace the combined heat, dirt, and trash all blend together to create that distinct, inescapable city stench. I pass the construction workers with jackhammers, and I see the finish line in front of my eyes. My second wind begins to come alive.

Suddenly, a bird swoops down in front of me. I swerve to the right and knock down the person next to me. He goes to the ground, but he lands on his backpack. Tourist, I don’t even have to ask. I stop to help the guy up and give my apologies.

He says, “Oh don’t worry, things like this happen every now and then. Where you headed?”

“To work at the State House right ahead, just a little late.”

“That must be so cool to work in a building like that. And to walk through this city everyday, I can’t stop staring at the skyline.”

I look at the skyline, out of curiosity. I’ve never actually stopped to take a look at it, I guess I never have time to do so. I continue to talk with him on my way to work. I stop at the coffee shop before the finish line and buy him coffee. We part ways, and as I walk the rest of the race I begin to look up instead of straight ahead.