Or, Things I’ve Learned After Two Weeks as a Sweaty Gibbon on the Subway
1. LEAVE A DATE THAT IS OBVIOUSLY GOING NOWHERE. I’m just going to start off strong here, and fresh, as this just happened Friday night. But, Mia Renee (and everyone else, but this moment is a note to myself), there is nothing gained by “sticking it out” with a crap man who clearly has no intention of manifesting any other version of himself than the white undershirt wearing one that showed up an hour late to the designated bar and claimed to be late because he took his bike from a geographic location you know to be 20 minutes away. Your learned (and socially reinforced) fear of men is irrational in light of the well-lit bar, heavily populated street, waitress who clearly is on your side as she knows he was an hour late, and slight frame of the disheveled New Englander across from you. A sturdier man might be more of an issue, but then again a sturdier man might be more of an attraction. Table that. Trust your instincts. Leaving is also the most respectable thing you can do for this man. You are now playing into whatever ideal he had of this evening, and you should not be an accessory to fantasy. This is unkind of you. There will be more awful dates along the road to learning how to respectfully but firmly saying no to a situation you glean nothing from. Well, not nothing. He did garner himself a place in the hall of “Men Who Patronizingly Acknowledge Your Intelligence and then Make Weird Jokes About Wanting Your Mind Are These Men Zombies Consider Later for Thinkpiece”.
2. YOU FIGURE OUT THE TRAINS FASTER IF YOU PAY ATTENTION.
3. NEVER EVER PAY FOR A RICKSHA. You do not have to pee that bad. This is a lie your mind is telling your body. You can hold it. The Universe believes in your ability to hold your pee.
4. RELATED: USE THE RESTROOM WHENEVER YOU CAN. Remember when your mom, every damn time you tried to leave the house, asked if you’d gone to the bathroom? Her Pavlovian conditioning of you was for this moment, when you are traveling in places you’ve never been. Your senses are heightened as you leave an establishment, heightened for you to scope out the restroom. If you close your eyes, your heart will point you to the restroom as you hear your mother’s voice in your head saying, “Just try. Even if you don’t have to, just try.” Twenty minutes later, you will be grateful to your mother for the umpteenth time that hour.
5. FIND YOUR TRIBE BEFORE YOU JUST START TALKING ABOUT CYBORGS. This is weird. Not everyone is into cyborgs. Not everyone wants to hear about them. Some people, even, are upset by them. Move through this world freely, but with more caution. More caution regarding cyborgs.
6. PREPARE PROPERLY FOR WEARING DRESSES. Chub rub is real, no matter how many times you tell yourself, “NOT TODAY, SATAN”. Satan doesn’t care. Satan loves your thighs.
7. YOU CAN, BUT PROBABLY WON’T, DRINK TOO MUCH WATER. So drink up. Early and often. There’s no downside here. You’ve already learned #4. You got this.
8. STAND ON THE SUBWAY. Unless it’s late at night, or there’s not a potential for it to fill up. You’ll be 100% happier standing, as this eliminates the possibility of staring the crotches of five Patrick Batemans down at eye level. You’ll breathe easier too.
9. YOU ARE MORE DETERMINED THAN YOU KNOW. Yes, you get angry easily. But you do not give up easily. This is a good discovery.
10. PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN. Your heart, your feet, your back, and your eyes will all feel less strain. And you will be present. And you will notice things. And you will thrive. See #2.
11. WHEN OFFERED, SAY YES. Food, drinks, lodging, clothes, a ride. If you know the person, trust the person. They are saying, “I care for you let me show it”. Don’t be so arrogant as to assume you really want to walk 2.8 miles in 92 degree heat.
12. WHEN YOU CAN, DO THE SAME. Everyone just wants to feel valued. Food and a beer is a good way to provide that feeling.
13. PEOPLE LOVE WHEN YOU DO THEIR DISHES. It takes you five minutes, and if you don’t know them very well but are on your way to a friendship, it gives you something to do with your hands while you talk.
14. DON’T STOP DOING THE THINGS THAT MADE YOU HAPPY/SANE/REFRESHED FROM BEFORE YOU GOT TO THE PLACE YOU ARE. Make time for yoga. Make time to journal. Your ass is on the subway at least a few hours a day. You have time to read. You have time to listen to Kanye. Call your mother. Call your best friend. Make the food you like. Sit on park benches and tilt your head skyward (with your arm or ankle laced through your backpack strap so as to slow down potential muggings but whatever if it happens it happens). Take all the damn photos you want. Take none. Dance as often as possible. Wear all the sunscreen. Wear hats. Rituals are designed to keep you from sitting naked on the floor sobbing under the weight of the chaotic unknowns of this lifetime. Rituals are good and right. Be unashamed, but also feel free to keep them to yourself. You’re no Cheryl Strayed.