Some days in New York it feels as though the Mayor declares the city’s mood first thing in the morning and dispatches it to all boroughs with a strict order to comply.  You can feel it between the Hudson and the East River and North to South.  As you walk down the street you sense whether it’s a good day to wear the shoes you chose to chance, if you can let you guard down and be at ease – it dictates the speed of your gait.


After a pleasant few weeks of unexpected mild summer temperatures the concrete baked in the sun and it burned my eyes and skin.   I chose not to buy groceries that would wilt before I could get them back inside.  Yet, it didn’t feel oppressive the way the same would feel in late July when the entire summer still feels as though it’s stretched out in front of you.  The collective feeling was…hot, but not a burden.


So, I walked into the subway headed home, pressed against strangers.  I noticed everyone was quiet.  It was as if you could sense a shared feeling of relief the day was ending for most and the weekend is near.  It was not one of those days where anger is tangible and you are forced into awkwardness by simultaneous fights and arguments on separate ends of the train car.  I locked eyes with a few people as we bumped into one another and gave that smile of “it’s okay” and mouth sheepishly, “I’m sorry.”


As the train was leaving the station I found the pole I needed to hold on to was further from me than I like it to be.  I had to stand at an angle and stretch my arm around the person next to me without leaning against them.  I could feel his heat on my arm as he was wearing less shirt than exposed skin.  I could smell his hair and sweat.  It was not unpleasant, it was not sexual…just intimate.


I have been thinking a lot about intimacy lately it makes me wonder if the mood I take with me is the mood I perceive around me.  You can’t help but notice people – and feel their day radiating out of them contained in a small space, breathing the same air.

  • Rob Blatt

    There’s nothing in the world that makes me more uncomfortable than absorbing someone else’s heat. I think I’m just self conscious of it because I produce a lot of it myself. Because I’m tall enough I usually go for two hands on the ceiling before I have to reach across someone and feel their heat.

    I always feel like people are saving energy by not speaking on the subway sometimes. Like they know when they open their mouths, all they will do is drain their own energy after a long day of work…