London, Personal

The Ants Go Marching

We walk on our own path and we all seem to know exactly where we are going. We see no one else. We walk in our own straight line which really isn’t straight at all but a path we have created for ourselves in order not to touch anyone else. I zig zag through the crowd. I’m on a mission. So is everyone else. It’s always the same. In the morning, before the winter sun has risen, we are on our way to work. In evening, after the winter sun has already set, we are on our way home. I make it to the escalator. There are two police men who stand on both sides, making it impossible to pass them on the way up. I opt for the stationary stairs. I make it to the top before they do. I see my bus and play dodge cars with the commuters between me and my double decker, red bus. I make it. Sinking down into my seat up stairs, I open my book to where I last left the Tattooed Girl and her employer, Mr. Siegel. I will finish the book tonight.


The wind blows the trees back and forth. Facing the wind, I feel like I am wading through a sea of cold water. It slows my pace but I think to myself, “What a wonderful workout my legs are getting, going against the wind.” Then that song pops into my head, “Against the Wind.” Well, maybe that’s part of the chorus and not even the title of the song. I digress. A gust comes up behind me and knocks me off balance. I make it home in a sea of chaos, where trains are delayed, stations are closed, people are jammed into tube cars, playing bumper cars with their bodies as the train juts back and forth readying itself to brake. Tomorrow I will talk to the folks at the Free Tibet Campaign and they will tell me about the woman who was thrown into a light post by the wind. The weather is angry. It is also much stronger than we are.


The sun was shining today. For the first time in weeks. Longer than five minutes too. Sometimes it comes and I open all the curtains and blinds and then once I open the last one it has already disappeared behind the clouds and gray takes over again and I wonder when the next time I feel warmth will be. Today was crisp like the memory of a bright winter day in Michigan, but without the snow and the reflection off of it. As I walked back from lunch at The Juggler, I thought it was snowing. Light, ashy snowflakes floating on each breeze and up into my face. It was the woman in front of me. Her cigarette ashes getting lost in the wind.


Ants march like we do. A goal in sight. See it. Walking towards it. Seeing nothing else. Using all of our strength to make it happen. We do not ask our neighbour if they need assistance, for we don’t want to stumble over their big suitcase or bump into their backpack. We want to get home. We stare at the screens above our heads to see which trains are running. On time. Late. Not at all. And we step forward. Into that place where we only have our thoughts to keep us company. The soundtrack of our lives pulsating through the white veins stuffed into each ear and running down our chests. We walk like ants marching from one place to the next. But we are not in this together. We do not carry the weight of our world for each other. We do it for ourselves. And we are not organised in doing so. We have obstacles. We go around them. We go through them. And sometimes, they stop us. Because unlike ants, we are not on the same team.

But if we are lucky, like I am, our teammate is waiting for us at home. Dinner on the table. A hug when I walk in the door.