Back to Brooklyn, American Overload on the J Train
After a week riding on a relaxing, reliable, spacious subway system in Berlin, I've asserted my way on to a cramped and chaotic J Train in Brooklyn, heading from Bed-Stuy to the corporate office.
I got a seat. This is rare, good. I'm mentally exhausted and my body is physically too, from hauling luggage all over Neukölln the past two days.
There was a time when culture lag affected me more, that things stood out in my mind. Now, they're not so mind-blowing. The qualities of a people in a place are simply the qualities of a people in a place. No more why can't they be more like us of why can't we be more like them deliberations when I encounter differences in travels.
The man in front of me, wearing the Puerto Rico jersey, propping himself up with a cane and a hand on the doorway and yet swaying to whatever's playing in his headphones, has on a digital camo day pack which looks to have very little inside it, baby-sized boxing gloves with the Puerto Rican flag on them hanging from his bag, one drinking bottle wrapped in foil to either insulate or protect what's in there from being seen by prying eyes, another bottle filled with just water (and the sort of large chunk of ice inside which only comes from putting bottle with water inside inside a freezer for a night, a small metal bottle opener, an American flag luggage tag, an I ♥ NY snapback hat in pristine condition.
He carries more cultural signifiers on his body than I can process right now.
He is so Nuyorican, and that is so American, and I am definitely back in America.