New York City Stories: ‘Penny on the Track’

The first thing I really studied after arriving in New York was a penny on the floor of the F Train.

After an early waking, a semi-comfortable bus ride — pro: first time ever, surprisingly spacious / con: not comfortable to work in (space wise) and internet connection wasn’t the best — I wanted to settle in to the nook of Park Slope, Brooklyn and then be off on my merry way. (All of this is for later posts.)

The penny was less than a foot from my foot. Despite it not being far away, in the grand scheme of things, the penny technically doesn’t go a long way. It’s a copper circle, and when it’s appropriately applied it can cause chaos events.

Being a tad on the superstitious side, seeing Lincoln’s side profile is what fueled my desire to pick the penny up. It’s good luck, after all. Maybe it’s even more good luck in the dingiest of places, where hand sanitizing stations do not exist.

My foot tapped occasionally tapped to the beat of the tempo the rail bumps provided, but my eyes were focused on the pages of my book: Let the Great World Spin, because it had to be finished for crying out loud. Plus Colum McCann is speaking at the Rosamond Gifford Lecture Series on Sept. 15. It would be nice to get the novel finished by then. (This was started months ago.)

But the covers were never “finally closed” by the end of my trip — something I have to deal and live with — but I finished another book instead: Hemingway.

Lincoln and my staring contest came to a close after deciding not to pick it up.

There was no personal desire for luck. Foreshadowing: Due to complications with travel during the trip, perhaps the penny should have been retrieved. In retrospect, I’m glad it wasn’t pocketed. Subway trains are always bound to need fixing, adjusting, tweaking, renovating. Four-wheeled drivers are going to mix up destinations now and again. They are situations to take deep breaths about.

It would make someone happier: If the recipient is more monetarily particular or superciliously superstitious by comparison.

There is luck in that heads-up penny. I don’t want luck. I don’t deserve it, because someone may need it more than I do.

I’m simply lucky to be able to make the trip, to meet people new and familiar, to cross paths with strangers, to recharge my batteries by overexciting them. If I were camping, there would be a demanding desire to stay. Peel me from the tree, you would have to. With the over-stimulation, there is resulting gratitude to head back to a slower-paced life.

As great as it was being driven around and sometimes getting lost. I didn’t miss the drivers here in Central New York: the drivers in the middle of the road, the ones that continually swerve to the side and quickly jerk the wheel back straight, the drivers that blow through red lights after the light has turned, the stop-sign gliders — all of this and more was experienced in an hour-and-a-half of driving around town.

I could gladly live without that.

As for the challenge of big city life and demanding society — the idea can be toyed with, tossed back and forth between hands, but eventually that ball would ask to be bounced upon the ground and launched into sky to where it blends in with the sun by the hugging rays.

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