Bursting the Bubble: The Commute

I thought I would hate my 20 minute commute from Columbia to Times Square three times a week.  I thought that I would never synchronize my schedule to the train schedule.  I thought that I would always be rushing, stuck behind slow tourists, or annoyed because of the lost time.

I've written about how I love being able to get out of the Columbia bubble and interact with people who have real lives.  But I'm also coming to appreciate being able to burst the bubble I walk around in all day.

I've found that when I'm on campus, I'm stuck in my head.  I think about what I need to do for the rest of the day, what we will be doing in class, or general worries.  This isn't unique to campus either.  It's easy to put yourself on auto pilot and just go.

But walking through Times Square is different.  I'm surrounded by people.  Literally, I pack into a too-small subway car and from that moment until the door to the building in which I work closes, I'm just part of a crowd.  It's easy to just plug in my headphones, turn on a podcast, and enter the world of Pete Holmes or NPR.  It's easy to shut off and shut down.

But lately I've switched out my podcasts for music.  I've stopped using sound to tune out the world and started using it to tune into the people around me.  My music serves as the soundtrack for the city in that moment.  I look people in the eye.  I acknowledge their humanity.  Everyone walking in that crowded part of the city has a reason to be there.  They all have a story that should not be ignored.

To live with so many people in such small of a space steals your privacy, yes.  There is not getting in your car and having some alone time.  But it also steals your humanity.  We all just stare at the floor of the subway car with headphones on.  And while that privacy is nice, so is the acknowledgement of your presence by another human.

I'm not just a part of the crowd; another cog in the machine.  I'm Madysen, who is walking through Times Square to get to work.  My presence has a purpose and my story is part of a greater story-- maybe just of another person's afternoon or a young girl's first experience of New York City.  Just because we are going through the same motions on our commute to work doesn't mean that we don't impact the lives of others.


  1. You have a real gift for putting your feelings into words and then sharing them. Your mom and dad raised a beautiful, warm, well-rounded young lady. I haven't seen you in years, but I'm proud of you, Madysen.


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Meet The Author

I'm Madysen, born and raised in Nebraska but now living out my dreams in New York City. I moved here to go to Columbia, but living in New York has become so much more to me. This blog is a space where I can share my experiences of reconciling my midwestern upbringing with the life I live in the city. But even bigger than that, this blog serves as a space where I can try to understand where I fit into the larger social world, where I want to go in life, and how I want to go about pursuing all of these endeavors.

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