A slice of the Subway, and accidentally fancy

Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers.
The Teacher’s Write prompt today asked us to walk 100 feet away from where you usually are then stop, observe, take notes, make connections, then write.
100 feet.
I’m 200 miles away from where I usually am. Distance makes me notice more.
New York City is different from my town. Difference makes me notice more.
I don’t know the rules of the subway.  Not knowing the rules makes me notice more.

On the train, I can’t help but people watch
in the silence
It’s so quiet!
Nobody talks
Serious faces in suits and uniforms,
Slices of life all around me, I desperately want my notebook
which is deep in my backpack
on the floor
stuffed between my feet

Sometimes you can see another train as you pass
My vision zooms out to see a tube of serious faces
My empathy makes serious faces into sad ones

I notice.
A tired woman boards, looks like she’s been cleaning all night –
I hope she gets to sit down soon
A man in a white t-shirt and suit jacket, keychains dangle
A child softy complains
I can’t help but notice people

Today, Matt de la Peña signed my friend’s copy of Last stop on Market Street. He wrote “Be a witness!” IMG_1740.JPG

Be. A. Witness.
I don’t think that’s the same thing as noticing, but maybe I’m getting close

Tonight there was more to notice. Thinking back, we maybe should have paid more attention to what we noticed
Picking a restaurant on trip advisor, I think we noticed the 4 $$$$
Instead we were busy noticing the reviews: “Worth it for the bread!”  “Best pasta in NYC!”
Walking up to the restaurant, we noticed we couldn’t tell if we were in the right spot until we saw the little sign
We should have noticed the nice man greeting us, a slight nod of his head assuring us we were where we meant to be

It wasn’t until we were almost to our table that we noticed that everyone else was fancy

Then we noticed our t-shirts and yoga pants and sandals
Feeling out of my comfort zone makes me notice more

My t-shirt’s tiny thread hanging, my pony tail
The  kindness of the waitstaff as they didn’t bat an eye at our yoga pants
How it really was worth it for the bread
and the basil
A 1:1 ratio of staff to customer
The way they wiped the crumbs from our placemat
The sommelier taking a small sip of each bottle he opened
Only one woman, our waitress
We wondered if we would be someone else’s slice tonight
Maybe the nice waitress has a blog tonight:
Two teachers in t-shirts at Scarpetta, eating spaghetti
Be. A. Witness.
Even if you happen to be accidentally fancy



5 thoughts on “A slice of the Subway, and accidentally fancy

  1. How wonderful that you are at TC – so much to pause and notice where you are! I love that advice: be a witness. Yes, even on the way to dinner, be a witness to kindness and the small gestures people extend to each other. Two teachers who deserved a fancy pasta place and service!

  2. I love watching people on the subway, too! Matt de la Peña’s advice to “Be a witness” is probably the best advice anyone can give a writer. You certainly did a great job witness your evening at Scarpetta’s!

  3. Love your slice… I travel a lot, so it resonated with me. But most of all I love the crafting. The terse free verse. The repetition. The parallelism. Your constant reference in so many ways with a variety of words that “noticing” is what it’s all about. Made me think of Kate DiCamillo’s post “On Writing”– about how important noticing is. http://www.katedicamillo.com/onwrit.html You’d like it. Love “Be a witness.” Perhaps noticing is taking it all in and being a witness is giving it out… Hmmm?

    1. Thank you so much! I love Kate DiCamillo — hadn’t read that post yet until just now – and I really do love it. What a lovely comment – Thank you. 🙂

  4. Thank you for sharing your witnessing here! I like how your observations of others prompt you to then observe yourself. There is power in that acknowledgement of what we are thinking and feeling in the moment. We keep ourselves company that way, even if we’re alone, and we learn compassion for ourselves 🙂

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