Saturday, June 9, 2007

IPod People

I've started commuting by train. So much for biking to school 5x spring term (per my 101 goals), but as they say, you learn something even in not meeting goals. My friend said I should make my goals more general, so that I could bike to school 5x this summer when I have more time, but that wasn't the point. I did learn that I'm probably not a bike commuter - it's just not a high priority for me, although I do enjoy recreational biking and running errands on my bike. (Please note that I haven't completely given up hope as there are still 7 days left that I have to go to school and I consider riding my bike to the train to count - there's creative math for you.)

On the train, though, I've noticed a disturbing phenomenon: The IPod People. As I listen to my MP3 player (sadly not an IPod, but a perfectly serviceable SanDisc) on the train too, I don't mean to criticize. But I find it disturbing that we're looking away to avoid one anothers' eyes, reading or pretending to so as not to notice the father who really needs a seat for himself and his child and we're listening to our tunes so intently that we fail to hear when a friendly voice says "hello."

As we file up and down the stairs on the way to the train with plugs in our ears and the sounds of ____ filling us with joy/grief/beats/memories/peace, who are we? Who is the handsome big blond man in khakis and a blue shirt that brings out his uncovered eyes? Who is the young harelipped man in a trendy shirt and new sneakers? Who is the black guy with the afro, huge glasses and great belt? Who is the young woman dressed all in black peering out at them from behind sunglasses that cover half her face? And more importantly, what are they listening to?

If we don't speak to one another, can we separate our identities from our appearance?

My friend told me recently that she never thinks of me as someone who wears only black, but I can count the number of days this week that I've worn another color. Okay, I wore other colors everyday - I wore a suit of pale linen to class on Tuesday before putting on my black uniform, I wore pink underwear on Wednesday and I'm wearing an olive green tank top under my black shirt today. I'm glad she doesn't think of me that way, because I'm not making a statement, protesting or even grieving by wearing black. I just like it. I like the neutral feeling and I like the fact that it all goes together without question. In pondering the black clothing issue, it's almost like I use the black as the backdrop so that my personality can be the part that shines, the part that's interesting. Almost, because I never really gave it that much thought or planning. Good thing my earbuds are black, too.

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