Riding Metro North. Romanticizing myself.

Thursday morning.

5:23 a.m.

Short on sleep, by several hours.

Short on time, rushing to catch the second morning train.

I’m on the platform, train cars pass, the train slows. I peer into one passing car, then the next, and the next. Options are limited: standing or middle seat.

Aisle seat occupants have their heads down, sending the commuter signal of not here, you aren’t welcome to the middle seat. Keep moving down the aisle.

I tap him on the shoulder. The Suit is irritated that I’ll be crowding him by taking the middle seat. I set my bag on the floor. Grab my smartphone. Tuck my elbows in, avoiding all possible contact.

Mind flips through the day’s appointments. Unfinished projects. And then the previous day, and things I shouldn’t have said, things I should have done, things I shouldn’t have done. I shift in my seat, nudging the occupant at the window, who shifts nervously.

Morning code: No contact. Absolutely no talking.

I can’t get comfortable. I adjust myself in place, careful to avoid contact. I’m tired. I’m edging to claustrophobia, and assessing whether I want, whether I need to exit and stand in vestibule. Not yet DK. Not yet. Settle. Just settle.

I set my smartphone down. I close my eyes.

It’s Make Believe Boutique in her post Kaleidoscope Shift that lands with a share from Chelsea D.G. Bartlett. “We may not always have that perfect mindset that we all chase…it can be difficult…especially when you’re constantly driving yourself forward…so lately I’ve been tricking myself myself into it.  I call this ‘romanticizing my life.’ I use this technique when I’m struggling to see the beauty in a situation, to add a little romance to the everyday frustrations and low moments that sometimes come up in life. It’s a perspective shift, more than anything else, paired with words that will take something that is often just a concept and true it into something more solid. Something actionable. It’s less effective to simply say, ‘I need to slow down and re-frame what I’m experiencing,’ than it is to force yourself to notice actual details and commit them to written words. Instead of, ‘I’m stuck on the bus, too exhausted after work even to concentrate on my creative goals, and all I want is to be at home,’ romanticize your life.’ “The bus rocks me gently through the city lights. Glimmers of ideas for stories and projects spark and sputter in my mind. I know I’ll be home soon, and it will be warm.

I glance left, and then right in my seat. And then, up and down the train car.  All heads are down, sleeping or absorbed in gadgets. I look outside, darkness.

Never keen to take orders, and encouraged by the lack of local inspiration, I bend the perspective shift as the train rocks, racing ahead to New York City.

“Anguilla. I rock in the hammock, my right leg hanging over the side, and my right toe dipping in white sands. The palm fronds swish in the trade winds. The seabirds cackle overhead. The sky, cloudless, is a wondrous sapphire blue. The waves wash up on the shoreline, I inhale their salty mists.”

Inches to each side of me, the occupants disappear. Space is abundant.

I’m startled by the conductor’s call for arrival at Grand Central Station.

The car doors hiss and then swing open.

A quick spin of the kaleidoscope.

A single flap on the wing of perspective.

And this grounded bird now flies. 

Notes: Painting: Joseph Lee aka Joey Unlee (Korean-American, based Los Angeles, CA, USA) – Self Portrait, 2018  Paintings: Oil (via Your Eyes Blaze Out).  Chelsea D.G. Bartlett  from “Romanticizing My Life” — Bella Grace Magazine, Spring 2019 (Thank you Make Believe Boutique)


  1. I’m impressed DK, really. For a first effort, trying to romanticize a packed train during morning rush hour, would probably be a challenge for anyone. Anguilla however – far better choice.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. what a wonderful approach to getting through

    Liked by 1 person

  3. First off, love your writing Mr K. Sick of saying write a book… Here’s a challenge for you, one day in the future…Being on a crowded train, head down, no contact; no eye contact; no one’s here, no ones present to what is, but neither are you. Your in Augilla. Their in cyberspace pretending it’s better and easier somewhere else. Anywhere but here. Anywhere but facing what is real. Maybe I’m wrong? Just a thought. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • I like this Karen. I do. I take the challenge.

      And your thoughts remind me of:

      “Ever since then,” says Buber “I have given up the sacred. Or rather it has given me up. I know now no fullness but each mortal hour’s fullness” of presence and mystery. The Mystery, he says, was no longer “out there” for him, but was instead to be found in the present moment with the present person, in the present world.

      ~ Dr. Tom Kerns, An Introduction to Martin Buber (Philosophy 101)

      Always rather embarrassing to wonder what one gets out of travel to make up for its privations, except that it requires so much more imagination to stay at home.

      ~ William Empson, letter to John Hayward, 7 March 1933

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderfully escapist, DK. Love the ‘paradigm shift.’

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bravo, DK! You managed to escape your now and find peace on your ride in. They say it gets easier each time you do it so…
    Hope you have a fabulous weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Our escape is our now, and why not? Mythologist Michael Meade is fond of saying, “There’s no way not to be where we are and who we are.” That radical acceptance is the realization that it’s true under every circumstance. In some way or other, we are all escape artists.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I could not do this on a regular basis. This is so familiar though, even an airport shuttles: ‘Tuck my elbows in, avoiding all possible contact.’ Ugh. You wouldn’t think we even belong to the same race of humanity. Nope, I couldn’t do it. My spirit would be utterly crushed. 🙏💕

    Liked by 2 people

  8. You did well to go into your own head like that. I would be very uncomfortable in that crowded situation, but “going somewhere else in my head” is something that works for me too. Like when I’m about to get a root canal – I think about how tomorrow I will be somewhere else, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I like the imagine this paints, that said I couldn’t sleep on a train unless it was a long trip or had someone to wake me

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve said this before. I love this a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. niasunset says:

    This was so beautiful, dear Dave, “romanticizing” is great… Thank you, Love, nia

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Beautiful, DK. Just beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

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