Can you believe that during the middle of summer I could have 3 weeks of commuting heaven? Even coming in on Fridays? Unbelievable as it sounds, it is true. For the past 3 weeks, Gregory has been riding in and back with me on the train.
He is in between his sophomore and junior years of high school. This summer he took a pre-college course in the city making digital films and learning motion graphics. Instead of taking a dorm room like some of the kids, he decided to be a commuting student and go in with his dad, experiencing the fun of the daily back and forth.
I will tell you that instead of merging into the world of zombies and robots, standing on the platform, quietly staring into the distance, waiting for the train to arrive, sitting silently on the ride in the same seat every day, father and son brought new energy to this alien space. We opened our eyes to the absurdities of commuting, seeing things from his new perspective and yet taking advantage of the tricks from my years of juggling in this circus.
He realized that the train does not wait for us to arrive, and when we miss the train, our plans are changed, not the rest of the commuters. Getting up early and moving for the train was a shock to his system because we didn’t have multiple backups (the bus, riding a bike, mom driving us, etc.).
We would run from the car to the train, buy a donut for him when we had time, find two seats on the “two side” if available, talk for the first 10 minutes while he overdosed on sugar, and then watch him sugar crash and sleep on my shoulder for the rest of the ride. Once in Grand Central, we parted ways: me walking up and cross town, and him back into the subway tunnels downtown.
During the first week in the afternoons, we would meet up for the walk back to the train. The first day was the best. He made his way uptown along Broadway and I walked down to meet him. The moment I saw him across the intersection of Broadway and 51st, I yelled out “My son!” and he yelled “My dad!” We embraced in the street and it was then I realized what paradise the next few weeks were going to be. Whereas before I would spend 4 hours of my day in detached polite interpersonal coexistence, now I was connected, engaged and thrilled to be spending this time with someone I love. I looked forward to our walks, our rides, buying tickets, talking logistics, and hearing the stories of the bums who were trying to take advantage of my son. It was heaven. My favorite line was the one Gregory gave to an African musician who was pleading for him to buy has CD. Gregory said “Hey man, I support your cause, but I don’t have any money.”
As you can imagine there are many other stories of our time together. But it is enough to say that these three weeks of father and son being together were some of the best weeks of my life.