Dank Life-Altering Memes

The misery and monotony of modern living. While New York City is a city that doesn’t sleep it’s also a place where millions of people have overlapping routines. For those of us who have a 9-5ish, our morning commutes have a recurring cast of characters. This cold rainy morning started with a longing for something more than the life I lived. On paper my life was perfect. I made good money at a great job, I had a very decent apartment and I recently optioned a silly idea that would eventually go unpublished. The checks cleared. Life was great, that didn’t stop me from being unhappy. I wanted out.


While there’s something to be said for the comforts of “success,” it does get rather boring. The down side of having your dream job is knowing you worked your whole life to get here and here was incredibly meh. Even in a city as exciting as New York with a job you dreamed of as a kid, it all got rather mundane. Cool things stop being cool when they become your daily routine.

Like any commuter, I knew the shortest distances between trains. I also knew which staircase would get me closest to the subway car that gets me closest to the set of stairs I need to go up when I get off the train. Anyone who has been in New York City and relied on the subways for more than a few months has devised a similar system. At the very least, all NYCers know to be in the front, middle or back of a subway train they regularly take. Sometimes, I wonder if the people I recognize also recognize me.


Today, the rain forecast was a 100% chance of misery. All day. I am not going to pretend I don’t enjoy a cold rainy emo winter day. I have a Tibor Khlaman / MoMA Design umbrella I love. When opened, the black umbrella has an image of a nice sunny day on the inside. Look up and see a nice blue sky. I love it so much. I rebuy it every time I lose or break it. The weather doesn't bother me as much as having to commute did. This day started off like any other, rainy or otherwise. I woke up tired, loathing my trip to the office. It is never the rain or sunshine that made my days good or bad, it’s all about perspective. Perception is a hell of a drug.

My commute was typically 45-55 minutes. I had two options that were virtually the same. Option A was running late, as per usual; Option B it is. Wind is a phenomenon unlike any other in NYC. You could be walking along This Street, everything is fine; turn down That Avenue and get hit in the face with a gale force wind. Turning down 6th Avenue, that’s exactly what happened. Tibor and his sunny day did not stand up to the pressure, the cutesy umbrella I get at the museum shop crumbled against the angry winter wind. I walked five blocks in downpour, knowing I’d have five more blocks once I got to Brooklyn. Maybe I should have waited for the delayed train. Fucking New York.

I stood there, wet, waiting on a subway platform for perpetually delayed trains when one of my regular co-stars comes stumbling down the wet concrete steps. This woman was the prototypical angry New Yorker, I once saw her end “showtime” by stepping up out of her seat amid breakdancers to verbally assault them. She was a legend. Today she looked like a wet rat, drenched and miserable. She must’ve turned down 6th Ave too. Crowded train, everybody was wet, nobody was happy. The commuters are surprisingly silent. It’s not a polite silence. It’s more of a mutually experienced sense of defeat.

The lady I don’t know muscles her way in to get the last seat, she puts her wet bag between her feet and creates an ever expanding puddle that rolls with the train as it turns on the tracks. Another of my recurring characters sat wet and uncomfortably beside her. An older gentleman who always wore well tailored suits, his hair always neatly trimmed and framed with smart rimmed glasses; all features of a guy who didn’t look like he needed to take the subway. In my mind’s eye he was either the guy who made a lot of money but was rather frugal or he was a guy who spent way too much of what he earned looking like he made lots more. Either way, he very clearly recognized the wet woman beside him, she was most probably a recurring character in his story too. He, like I do, probably sees this woman as someone with the potential to be either a fearsome arch-nemesis or a valuable ally. He tried to give her as much room as possible as she increasingly spread her wet legs further while sinking into a deep manspread. Before either of us knew it she’s tearing into a straphanger for standing on her foot. She’s ripping this stranger a new asshole on a crowded train full of wet miserable silent people and the older gentleman locks eyes with me. A looong moment of eye contact before he rolls his eyes. I let the lingering eye contact and silent communication confirm it; I was a recurring character in his NYC story too. For a moment I wondered what impression I give to the people who see me every day as I drudge myself to and from the job I used to love.


We continue on over the Manhattan Bridge, in to Brooklyn. It’s always a nice change of pace, to come from the under ground subway tunnel to the track that crosses the bridge with views of the East River; Manhattan and New Jersey on one side and Brooklyn on the other. The people perk up from the books they pretended to read while the guy was being dressed down and everyone basks in the view of that NewYork Minute. Those moments of peace is what we love about this city. It's part of what gives us the Stockholm Syndrome. I get off the train before she does, wondering where she goes every morning.

I mentally prepared myself to run the next few blocks in more harsh rain. Thankfully, there’s a man on the subway platform over charging for $2 umbrellas… the free market economy. The prices may be upsetting but, you have to remember the most important axiom in a free market system; I can always go fuck myself. Begrudgingly I decide to not fuck myself and pony up $15 for the umbrella.


I get upstairs to find that the rain had stopped. Sunshine. Clear skies. Like my broken cutesy umbrella. Ah, New York. The city so nice it gets to fuck you twice.

Off to my toxic workplace. The megalomaniacal guy at the top was ranked as one of the worst to work for, in an industry that was battling a wave of sexual harassments. His page on Glassdoor was always an interesting read. Imagine being worse to work for than a sexual predator. That was our boss, more insufferable than a pussy grabber. He’s one of those guys who thinks he’s the smartest man in every room he enters and is discourteous to the people he thinks he's was smarter than (spoiler, it was everyone). Days typically started with someone being insulted over their free coffee and I typically hid at my desk with my headphones on. I was suffering from an advanced and debilitating case of the Fuck Its, the last thing I wanted was drama in the morning. Shit man, I never want drama. I worked in the entertainment industry, we weren’t surgeons or EMTs. Our goal is to entertain. The stress should be minimal. Listening to Coltrain, I checked my emails and Facebook page.

That’s when it happened. I saw the meme that changed my life. I don’t say it lightly and I know full well how ridiculous it sounds. A meme changed my life. I don’t remember who shared it, I wish I could thank them. It was a picture of two very old and very out of shape senior citizens asleep in a gondola floating along the canals of Venice. It read “see the world after you retire.”

Fuck.


What was I doing with my life? How much of it was I going to trade away? Was I going to stay trapped in this monotony? I’m not married. I don’t have kids. All my “responsibilities” were self inflicted problems. What the fuck do I need a career for? How many pairs of sneakers do I actually need? I put in my two weeks notice. I cashed out my 401k. I gave up my cool apartment.


I bought a one way ticket and started a new life.