He asked his two coworkers what language they were speaking to each other with. They told him it was Hindi. Two hours later, he asked them in what countries people speak Hindi. They told him Pakistan and India. They were from India. He said he was jealous of their multilingual abilities. They told him to learn other languages by watching foreign films, and that a greeting in Hindi is “Namaste.”
As the end of the shift approached, he asked them if they knew if they were going to continue working after the holidays. One said she didn't know, and the other said they would put her on-call. He said he was going to be on-call too.
They taught him the Hindi word for goodbye. He repeated the word back to them, and forgot what it was five minutes later.
He carried his stuffed backpack up the steps to the train station when it was dark, went to the kiosk and slid in his traveler rewards card. After the round-trip set of tickets printed, he grabbed them, and took a seat on what was his choice of long rows of wooden benches in the lobby. He tried reading two different novels he brought along with him, but couldn't help being distracted by the voices of strangers, and the sounds of freight and commuter trains - mixing echoes off the brick walls, tiled floors, and high wood-beamed ceilings. Eventually, an hour passed. The sun began to rise, and his train to New York was arriving. He stepped outside to greet it.
He boarded the train early, and waited in his seat. He noticed young men, dressed up to look like their fathers, except they wore headphones. As soon as the last commuter's second foot hit the car's floor, the doors pinched shut. The first stop was Washington D.C.. The train plowed into the sunrise between the high-rise buildings, and finally stopped, allowing the aspiring leaders of America to jump off. He changed seats to one freshly vacated with a better window view. He looked through the glass, excited to see the land he hadn't experienced yet. As an attempt to mute the small talk and chit-chat from the surrounding passengers, he slipped in a set of ear plugs.
After a few more metropolitan stops, his car was nearly empty, and mostly quiet, save the crinkly sound of candy wrappers being opened, and his inner monologue asking himself whether or not he should purchase a coffee from the snack car. He talked himself into waiting after when, and if, the conductor came around to collect his ticket.
The smell of leather was strong from all the belts, shoes, purses, suitcases, luggage, and coats. The thought of department stores came into his mind, and how boring, yet pleasant they can be. The simple content made his eyes grow heavy, and the slow rocking of the train, as it glided northward, put him to sleep, like a baby.
The metallic smell of hot electronics woke him up. He found himself in Philadelphia with new passengers, with new problems, and new gadgets. He felt the person behind him typing on their laptop, which was placed on the meal tray attached to the back of his seat. This stole his attention while he held one of his books in his hands, reading only a few lines every few minutes. In between the scholarly stints, he gazed at the passing landscape, and finally mustered up the determination to go get his cup of coffee.
He dreamed about going there all his life. He finally got there, and found he was as lonely as ever. He met a prostitute. She showed him the town, and took him to all her favorite restaurants and clubs. He bought her meals, and drinks, and love. He finally passed out, and managed a few hours of sleep before she called him; hungry and bored.
He picked her up again, because he found he could not say, "no." Then it was the same thing all over again. Food, and drinks, and conversations over loud bands.
Somehow, he woke up again. This time, he called her, because he didn't know if he could manage to get along otherwise. She didn't answer the phone, so he found another prostitute, just as easily as he did the first one. And it's the same. It's always the same, but he did it any way.
Except this time, he didn't sleep. He thought about this place, where he always wanted to go. And this time, he woke up, and he was there.
From the bottom of the Yellow or Blue lines on the Metro, the track shoots out of an underground tunnel and up at least ten stories high as it twists around to the National Airport. You might catch glimpses of natural and man made flight experiences, with The Monument providing a background conversation piece.
Fiction, fact, dream, and waking life all translate to media.
"Stuffy," is the word I thought of when I walked into the auditorium. This is after the phrase I mouthed to myself when I stumbled upon the place, which was, "holy shit!"
I saw a man in a slick suit open up his wallet, pull out a twenty, and blow his nose on The President. Marble pillars, and on the podium, a wooden gavel, and the table next to it, a laptop computer with an embedded glowing piece of fruit.
I left the mansion after the lecture on a new three dimensional sound reproduction technique, and ended up at bar called The Big Hunt. I remained standing as I drank my I.P.A. and watched a feather-weight boxer on the flat-screen. He was called Kid Blast, and he taunted and roughed up his opponent.
The pliable and synthetic hand-rail that accompanied the descending escalator to the metro station rubbed against its mechanics and honked like a dissonant saxophone solo.
Coltrane, where are you?
The capitol is where money is, and the sons and daughters of money get to play there.
I'll go back tomorrow to blow some more money.
I know how to pretend,
and how to pretend not to pretend,
and so on....
I listened to an of album of hers on the train ride out on my iPod. I didn't like it much at first. It was something else that made me want to hear it. Her voice and words. A drunken night in her apartment a few years ago sums it up. So drunk, I couldn't remember how it ended when I woke up the next day, and soon after when I was at work, I had this feeling of bliss.
I tried to preserve my hearing by keeping the headphone volume low, so the crushing and sliding sounds of the train and its track mixed into the music, so much, so that when the album ended, I didn't realize it.
...And the youth catches on to doom. As a music and art genre. It used to be that people would tell me about these styles that were new to me, saying they've been around for a while.
I think the next act will use loop pedals. I saw that ten years ago in Seattle, and it was boring. Merrill Garbus did it right. The loops on her recordings sound nice, but her voice was the meat! Every chew squeezes out more flavor.
The DJ just Put something on that shut the crowd up. If you didn't guess, it's some really cute music, with melodies that could be in a children's song, and loads of arcade game sounds.
Next, a recording of a guy I knew played over the speakers. In fact, I received a Facebook friend request from him earlier in the week. I felt important, and relevant for only that brief moment.
You get shocked once, and then you're numb. You realize it's the same from coast to coast, in the land of the free. But you'll never be satisfied until you've seen it all, which is impossible. So you keep going, hoping for something new, or for something to stop you.
...And what a beautiful spring night it was, for the last day of January. Finding the buzz, the pulse of the city. Nobody ever writes romantically about D.C. It's the same as every other city; late twenty-early thirty somethings trying to find mates, and telling each other intellectual jokes to prove they are going to college. Everybody else building families. Poor people seemingly lounging about. Widows and widowers occupying their time with work, the fitness club, church, and maybe, if they're motivated, one other activity they like to call "a hobby."
I sat with Coltrane all the way home. After I pulled up the driveway on my single speed bicycle, I popped a beer from the shed and sat in the back yard with it and the warm air, and finished "A Love Supreme," and pretended to be in a time of sixty years ago, with Kerouac.