Leg pain – and a girl.

I tore a calf muscle about a couple of weeks ago. Football is quite physical, and being a goal keeper doesn’t quite shield you from injury. About a week later I realized it was more than just sore muscles and the doctor said I probably have a tear, rest your leg, use ice to cope with the swelling and if it hurts too much, paracetamol is enough of a painkiller.

One never quite realizes how debilitating injuries can be until they are faced with the fact. Walking is an adventure. When it doesn’t quite hurt and you become a little bit overconfident your muscle twitches in strange ways, the pain is instant and punishing of any such transgression. There is no real treatment, aside from the aforementioned rest and ice packs. Ice is interesting, cold things hurt, and then strangely they start to burn I found out.

Suffice to say I’ve been living with varying amounts of leg pain for the past fortnight. My colleagues at work have taken to calling me dr. House and I am awaiting the cane I was promised in order to help with my recuperation.

Today I went to work for the first time, not having moved much beyond my studio door for the past few days. I really didn’t know what to expect but my leg and I had a deal, I would behave if it would behave in return. The walk to the subway took longer than usual, but the deal was working. He grumbled and twitched a little bit as I went down the two flights of stairs, I relented and used the handrail.

We’re good pals, my legs and I, we’ve been places and done things that most people on the train probably haven’t, it’s part of what got us in this little squabble, but not her, she looked different from the rest as she was getting ready to board the train. Sure she was short, but that backpack can’t have been light. Her cheeks were flushed with the spring sun still glinting into her blue eyes as she walked into the train. I leaned over to check my leg for painful spots as I do every now and again when a pair of feet appeared next to me. Light brown leather shoes, gently wrapped around slender ankles, no stalkings or socks.

I leaned back and there she was holding onto the bar, well this is odd I’m in the handicapped spot, my leg is a mess but I should probably leave her my seat when she refuses someone else. She is exceedingly pretty with her short brown hair tied up like that.

We somehow both noticed the kids next to us talking about their driving tests rather coarsely at around the same time. I caught her peaking at their phone, and she caught me catching her, and we didn’t let go for a few seconds, until people had to get off at the next stop and she maneuvered to remain in the same place despite her enormous backpack.

I knew the next stop was the exchange, I hoped she was headed for the train station and not the airport and would linger on for another few minutes. I pushed myself to look again and there she was looking back blinking now and again, once for every new digit in my heart rate, and hers no doubt as she became flushed again.

The train stopped, the automatic voice said the words, the doors opened and without letting go of my eyes she smiled playfully and walked away. Should I stay or should I go? I should stay… safe travels subway girl.


What is meaningful?

Commuting gives a man time to think. Maybe too much time. Seven minutes to the subway, during which time I may or may not stop at the store. It may be cold or windy depending on the wiles of winter. Three to four minutes waiting for the subway either numbing the boredom with soundless video on the overhead screens or listening to the same forty or so songs on my phone. Here it comes, will I fit in the sardine rollercoaster or will I be proud and refuse the humiliation for another few minutes?

Twelve minutes to the exchange and the doors open. It’s my morning exercise, half a mile of pedestrian NASCAR underneath the city. I draft, I accelerate and I overtake but I am never the guy who steps on your shoes, I know you’re cranky this morning, I haven’t had the best night’s sleep either and we’re both off to the same grind. For this one three minute part of our day I understand you, fellow human.

If I played my cards right during the race I step onto the platform and I’m at the very spot where the fifth door from the back will open. I am not in front of the door, I am just to the side. The tide of people from inside the caterpillar parts the five deep phalanx of suits and dreadlocks but I am in the ideal spot to pop inside and grab a seat as soon as the last of them is out, well done me.

As the doors close and the train moves off into the tunnel I contemplate the enormous uselessness of my accomplishment. Here lady, sit down, I don’t want it anymore… It’s meaningless. I tap the rhythm of the song quietly onto the floor as if it could somehow disturb the mass of fellow cattle lurching in harmony to either side of the car as the wheels echo loudly in the caverns.

Eighteen minutes later and it’s the last stop, all out. Close to a thousand people funnel to two subway exits and I wonder whether there’ll be a queue at the pastry place right before the exit – I like their croissant.

So is this all there is? I’ll be doing it in reverse in eight and a half hours but maybe I’ll have some company.

Why do I feel like I’m wasting this time? I couldn’t possibly read, I could miss a stop, that would be disastrous. Sometimes I arrogantly ponder the problems of the world as though one so little as me could even scratch the surface. The whole journey I’m bombarded by all kinds of messages being pushed into my face whether I like it or not, it feels like being herded, Avon, American Hustle, Vodafone – it’s so eclectic, so noisy. so futile. And then there are these.


True graffiti, not a hundred square meter mural, or an overly complicated and colorful tag, the things you would be tempted to call urban art. No, this is true graffiti. A simple, vulgar message written in haste, maybe on a dare late at night when the subway car was empty. Whether I agree with the message or not is beside the point (it is a crude jibe at our prime minister). Who are you targetting this toward? How will your message be seen? Will it be taken at face value and somehow go viral sparking a revolution against this administration? What is your intent? What was the dynamic in that group when they decided it was a good idea to write this on the inside of this door? Does it mean anything to you or did you write those particular words for lack of anything better? Were you expecting to sway people on the fence about the issue? Did you honestly think that it would? Do you know how much scrubbing it takes to get that marker off? Is this the only place that you did this? Are you on some sort of political graffiti spree? Why? What were your other options? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?