It’s approaching 1am and I’m on the stopping train from Manhattan to Queens. The 7 is clattering eastwards loaded with a cosmopolitan late night crowd.
My fellow travellers share an air of having lived a long day. They are also united by diversity. I wonder just how many languages are spoken by those who sit, stand and slouch around me.
There’s more chatter than on a mid morning train, inhibitions loosened by the hour. To me, it appears to be a carriage of tired dreamers, on that endless voyage of hope and ambition.
The world in one carriage
I flick a glance at the laptop screen of the young woman next to me. She appears to be editing an essay on the textile economy in Senegal. I wonder at the hidden stories sitting and standing wearily around me.
We stop for 30 seconds at 33 St and the carriage bulges with late night commuters yearning for their destination or the companion they left behind in Manhattan.
I feel a fraud, sneaking home from dinner in a downtown restaurant and a night cap with friends on the upper east side. But here I am, part of tonight’s NYC night time story, a piece of the puzzle of urban life.
Sounds of the city
I will become another out of focus figure on the NY transport system’s CCTV record, a statistic at the 2nd Avenue barriers, descending into the belly of the subway, the intestines of the city.
I popped my headphones in and opt for the sound of south London – Kate Tempest’s ‘Let Them Eat Choas’. The album telling the back stories of a group of unconnected Londoners all awake at 3am as a storm heads towards the city.
The words paint pictures in my head, “this feels like a dream. Oops, back here again… I’ve got demons I just can’t shake…”
It’s a late night journey home, with the late night crowd. It could be any major city the dreams the back stories.
London, New York, Bangkok, Amsterdam… oops back here again.
Roosevelt Avenue, tonight this is my stop.