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Transit Romance

by Benjamin Kabak

I’m on vacation for the next week, but since New York’s subways never shut down, neither will Second Ave. Sagas. I’ve enlisted the help of a few bloggers to help keep things fresh around here. Today’s guest post comes to us from Rebecca Aronauer, keeper of the Raronauer’ed blog.

Perhaps the greatest fantasy for any New Yorker is to fall in love on the subway. Who hasn’t checked out someone across the aisle, espied them reading your favorite book and have your heart skip a beat? To think: To have a train line and Philip Roth in common. This must be the real thing.

But like rent control, this New York dream is just that, a dream. What if a stranger actually approached you on the subway? It would be kind of weird. And even when strangers do find each other on the subway—with some help from the internet — true love takes more than a meet-cute.

But if there’s any romance to be had on the subway, it’s falling in love with yourself. Between work, family and friends, the subway is the true New Yorker’s chance to be alone. We’re hurried people, and it’s fitting that we find downtime traveling. That’s why tourists and packs of teenagers traveling together are so annoying: They’re violating the first rule of subway etiquette, which is to entertain yourself quietly.

Of course this statue is only in effect on weekdays. On the weekends, it’s perfectly acceptable to travel in groups, or late at night, in pairs. On the way back home, perhaps too inebriated from the night out to do anything but people watch, who hasn’t felt a little sadness when seeing couples share the ride home together? Like our small apartments, riding the subway alone is a reality New Yorkers must accept. And we can only make the best of it with iPod solitaire, romance novels and daydreaming about the person who just got on.

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3 comments

Wordpress Crossposting Promotion « Raronauer’ed August 8, 2008 - 10:30 am

[…] I wrote something for Second Ave. Sagas, the premier Second Avenue line blog about subway romancing. Raronauer’ed […]

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Bill Reese August 8, 2008 - 12:39 pm

There’s an old saying, “Everyone’s alone in New York City.” Only in a city like New York can you be surrounded by 8.5 million people, but can’t help but feel alone sometimes.

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Boris August 8, 2008 - 7:26 pm

I’m not the type who routinely starts conversations with strangers on the street, but I don’t feel alone in New York City. I went to college far away from a major urban area. In my senior year in college, I took a leave of absence in the fall semester to continue with an internship I liked. I took the 6 twice a day at rush hour, and I felt there was a certain camarederie among the riders. Just the fact, at least, that we are all in this subway car together. In college, with its elitism, “friends” who pretended to be busy all the time, and empty open spaces, is where I felt alone.

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