The Underground Rail Road

Horse drawn carriage is my preferred form of transportation.

Horse drawn carriage is my preferred form of transportation.

If we’re being honest with ourselves, I think we can all admit that at one point or another we believed Harriet Tubman was a train conductor.

We may have even pictured her and Frederick Douglass as the original underground performers in these secret stations where they would sing field songs as passers by tossed tips into their carpetbags.

Ok so maybe that last part was just me. Sometimes I have an extensive imagination.

But I always pictured these stations how I pictured the New York City subway; charged with an energy that’s all its own. People, eager to get to their destinations, pass by in a blur, yet are still in step to the soundtrack of a violinist, who was probably on Carnegie’s stage the night before, but today chose to strike his strings on the train platform.

Then, life gave me a plot twist even greater than Bruce Jenner caliber.

bruceThe New York City Subway is nothing like Harriet and Frederick would have designed.

I’m sure it’s probably seen Olympians and I’m certain it’s seen transgenders, and now maybe even a combination of the two; but don’t let this glorify public transportation for you.

I’ve seen some things I can’t unsee.

The first time it happened, I thought finding a homeless man unconscious with his pants off was a little alarming, now it’s becoming almost a regular inconvenience that’s not even reserved to just the homeless.


And public urination is borderline acceptable.

The other day a man was wandering through the car accusing passengers of turning him into a blood-sucking leech. Luckily he didn’t feel compelled to prove it and no one challenged him.

If I’ve learned one thing in my near three and half months of #ManhattanProjectRedux, it’s that the crazies are not just kept underground and they are definitely not just confined to Manhattan.

This was confirmed on a bus trip back from the Bronx, where I had spent the afternoon wandering Fordham’s campus. After almost four years at Castleton it was nice to finally be back on a true college campus.

Sorry NYU, but Washington Square and some purple flags does not constitute a campus. If this were the case I would toss some of my own flags around Union Square and declare it Campus Molly. But as we’ve already established my name is a drug and I doubt NYPD would believe me if I told them I was trying to make a college, not sell drugs.

Beyond giving me my true college fix, Fordham also gave me a little piece of home. Before enlisting in WWII my grandpa spent a semester at Fordham where he played football and was on the team with Vince Lombardi and the Seven Blocks of Granite. Though it will be 17 years this summer that he’s been gone, it was an uplifting feeling to know he had walked on some of those pathways all those years ago.

Seven Blocks of Granite Monument

Seven Blocks of Granite Monument


But then came the bus ride home to bring me right back down to the world of Molly where I was fortunate enough to be the solo passenger during the hour-long commute.

As we sat in traffic jams I was the sounding board for the drivers unending questions.

“Like, what really is normal?”

“What’s better, or”

“ has a six-month guarantee; but do you really need a guarantee when you’re with God?”

Obviously it was a coincidence that he told me he was 42 but only dated 22 year olds after asking my age. Because who follows that up with saying they live in their sister’s basement in New Jersey?

It must just be me because these encounters are not limited to just track or tread, they also find me by foot. If you’ve been reading along I’m sure you can already assume these run-ins go beyond Village cat calls and that one guy always wearing a burgundy suit in Bryant Park who keeps asking me where he can find the nearest smile.

Nope. Those interactions make a normal day.

Shopping for a graduation dress in SoHo I nearly ran into a man carrying boa constrictors around his neck and stopping to let people hold them. It was in that moment I knew I wasn’t going to find a good sale.

I'm not a fan of live accessories.

I’m not a fan of live accessories.

Even in my attempts to be studious some of life’s greatest oddities sneak up on me. Walking out of NYU’s Midtown Center building the other night a tiny Mexican man dressed like Elvis in a dirty yellow jumpsuit darted in front of me to scream in my face.

Instead of being surprised I was mostly just relieved the Taco King didn’t touch me.

But given the chance, I wouldn’t change the unpredictability of #ManhattanProjectRedux. Every day I wake up excited for what this city has in store for me, and sometimes it really is beautiful…



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