There's a thought that dances through my mind on a weekly basis. I find it troublesome - more often than not. A metaphorical quicksand, pulling me in.
I worry that living in this big, grey city has conditioned me for congruency. My small-town twinkle of kindness and patience is crumbling. When I first moved away, I engineered a facade of urbanity. Every inch of my body felt out of place, and yet I alluded in any way I knew how, that I belonged. On the inside I was lost, and on the outside I was home. No one called my bluff. Not once.
But behind this front was a perpetual fascination with my surroundings. A discomfort that left me sidelined, mesmerized at such anonymity. I was caught staring from time to time. The city that reaked of hotdogs and exhaust was suddenly my home.
This city has never failed to stimulate my senses. It moves at a pace so fast that you don’t dare stop and take it all in. You will be swallowed. Keep your head down and push on.
I was enthralled. And while the big city has never been a fit for me, I've grown accustomed. But that is exactly my problem.
Maybe it's the lack of sunshine that hits the arteries of the concrete jungle or maybe it's the funnels of people oblivious to my existence. All I know for sure, is that the air is thick with self-survival. Bumped around like cattle on the subway, staring at my feet because heaven forbid social interaction. Regardless, I write on.
Yesterday, because of my own inability to wake with my alarm, I was running late for work. On the streetcar, an elderly man struggled to climb the three small steps that would bring him face to face with the miserable TTC driver. My initial response was sadness as I wanted to carry him up - relieve him of his battle against age and limitiation. But my next response was annoyance. His slow speed was pushing my clock further behind. This city doesn’t allow for accommodation, not when it comes to schedules. The clock is our master, and money is our idol. The hydraulics squealed, the doors closed clumsily, and the gong rang. I move on.
Today I saw a tall, lanky man holding a sign saying "I'm deaf. Spare some change?". My initial response was sorrow. A hint of sadness and guilt came upon me as I fumbled within my pockets searching for any morsel of change.
Yet, as per usual, my subsequent thoughts alarmed me. I began to wonder if he was in fact a deaf man. Could it be possible that he is trying to pull on my heart strings to get money? A possible strategy to distinguish himself from streets filled with homeless vagabonds competing for the same small pocket of change? These thoughts carried on. A viscous loop that is silenced when that man is no longer in sight.
I've been dragged into the quicksand of metropolis. I've amalgamated with the rest - now a contributor to this giant rat race. I don’t stand out and nor do you. And while my original self surfaces on occasion, I feel it panicking for air.
I do not want to become like every other body in this city, immune to their surroundings. An empty vessel, numb to it all. This city is quicksand.