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Sunday, April 14
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

COLUMN: To ponder on a subway

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In the middle of the city of New York, all I could think about was following those around me. I didn’t trust myself to lead a group of college students in the chaos of 34th Street. I simply followed; maybe the other media students I was on this trip with would know where to go. I was mainly thinking, “Maybe my feet won’t be as sore today if we’re going to take the subway.” 

As we walked toward the nearest subway station (I wouldn’t be able to tell you which one it was), I thought about how much my feet hurt from getting in 30,000 steps the day before, most of which had been in flats. With the subway rides in the itinerary for the day, maybe we’d only get to 20,000 steps instead. 

The steps leading down to the subway station were stained with gray soot, and I could barely see where I was walking with all the people going up and down. There was an urgency to everyone’s pace, even at 8:30 a.m. As a foreigner of this city, I found myself in a rush too, trying not to get left behind or pickpocketed.  

I scanned my Metrocard and jogged up to the tracks, where the subway had just arrived. Our group packed into one of the cars, trying to stick together amid the rush of people walking in and out. I'd always been afraid of being left behind in a subway station I didn’t know, or even getting stuck in between the doors as they closed. But as of now, all 21 of us had secured a spot standing up in the middle of the subway car. 

As I held on to the top bar of the subway as it began to move again, I thought back to when I used to live in Philadelphia. My dad and I would take the subway to summer camp every day. We’d put coins in the machines that’d let us in through the entrance. There were a couple of different places to get food or souvenirs. We'd get donuts from Dunkin Donuts some mornings; I’d pick out the glazed and chocolate donut holes.  

Some days, my dad would tell me “You lead the way. I'll follow you to the subway.” I remember feeling so cool finding my way through the station, knowing every staircase and turn to make. As a child, I had so much fun pointing out which way to go and striding around as if I knew the exact blueprints of the place.  

As the subway got closer to our destination in NYC, I could feel tears come to my eyes as I relived the old memory in my head. I missed riding the subway every day with my dad. I missed getting donuts and feeling comfortable in a big city. I didn’t know my way around the NYC subway. I didn’t feel nearly as confident as I did when I was 5.  

There’s something special about being so young and unaware. You don’t feel doubt because you think there is less at stake. You don’t feel as paranoid about the things that could go wrong in a subway station, let alone your life. Your emotions are seemingly clearcut and simple; you’re happy or sad. You're less prone to overthink and consider the implications of things. You just live.  

Unfortunately, life doesn’t get any simpler. It becomes increasingly complicated, in both good and bad ways. It's up to us to decide how to handle what those complications give us.  

“Our stop is next,” our mentor reminds us. I snap out of my trance. I hold on to the bar to keep from bumping into any human within a foot of me as the subway begins to slow down. I see the station come into view as the subway finally comes to a stop.  

The doors open, and I refocus on what lies ahead. Visiting the Associated Press. The rest of the trip in NYC. College. And then who knows what comes next. Maybe one day, I’ll be able to go back to Philadelphia and ride the subway with my dad. Maybe I’ll relearn the way. 

Isabella Vesperini (she/her) is a sophomore majoring in journalism and minoring in Italian. 

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