When to Jump

My hair was wildly whipping around my head and I was going fast—maybe 30 mph? I quickly removed one hand from the railing to zip up my jacket. It too was flailing in the wind, repeatedly hitting my collarbone. As I readjusted, I looked up.


To backtrack: I can always smell when the seasons are changing, and that night was first time I discerned a difference in the scent of New York. The coming of fall smells smoky and earthy, while the beginning of winter is crisp and fresh. Snow has it’s own distinctive aroma, as does any beach on a hot afternoon. But spring days and summer mornings on the East Coast both smell the same: sweet and floral.

Walking to the train, I noticed undertones of the next (highly anticipated) season in the air. I smiled to myself—after a lengthy winter Mother Nature was finally relenting.

There were a handful of other thoughts floating around my mind (work, boyfriend, vacation?), so I didn’t notice that when the train rolled into the station, everyone avoided the car I stepped into. On autopilot, I chose a seat and pulled out my book.

It appeared that I was the only person on the train with a mentally unstable man.

(I’m not being inconsiderate; I’m simply recounting my story as it happened. And at this moment, I was becoming a little worried.)

Typically I would wait it out. At the next station, more people would flood the train and any fears of confrontation would fade. But because I was riding from Brooklyn to Manhattan, the next stop wouldn’t be for another five to seven minutes. When the man suddenly jumped up and moved closer to me, I made the split-second decision to hop trains.

If you’ve never ridden the subway, there are two things to note:
1) Every car has an exit door located at the front and/or rear that links to another car.
2) You can get heavily fined for using these doors, unless it’s an emergency. But people hop pretty frequently, and because this man was now aggressively screaming, I found my actions to be excusable in a court of law.  

The last thing worth mentioning?
I love jumping subway cars.

So I grabbed the door handle, twisted it quickly, and stepped onto the ledge. It’s always windy in the train tunnels, but I smelled something… it was sweet.
And floral.

The realization that I was above ground hit me as I zipped up my jacket. Our N train had breached the end of Brooklyn’s tunnel, and we were now zooming over the Manhattan Bridge. I looked up to see moving cars, flashing lights, and hints of the city’s skyline. The bridge’s beams were all around me, cradling our train like a man-made spider web.

I couldn’t bring myself to go into the next car until we hit Manhattan’s tunnel. There was something hugely freeing about being in-between.

Between cars.
Between boroughs.
Between seasons.

But the state of being in-between doesn’t last for long. You cannot perpetually be “in-between” something; you always choose one way or another. And in that, our moments of being in-between often bring change.

How I loved tasting sweet change in the air…

Side note: It's finally rooftop season (see above). Let the Saturdays where we never go indoors begin. 

In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.
— Albert Camus