Our backpacks in the subway

When you enter the train during rush hour in London – in other words, when you’re entering hell – you are kindly encouraged to take your backpack off your back and hold it in your hand so it doesn’t take up even more space.

We carry more than our backpacks in the train. We carry a lot more everywhere. On the escalators, the street, our job, they’re on the floor all over our room in that tiny apartment. You can see people carrying tention, grief, anger, excitement… that’s why neither of us makes eye contact. We avoid it like it would cut or kill. We pick a spot to look at: on the floor, the map, the window… not eyes! Feet, maybe, hands, the paper but not eyes. Always careful to look but not see.

I always wonder how does such a tiny box fit so much life?

Thoughts and worries and memories and trauma and happiness although there’s barely room for oxygen. The carriages are strange places. They are full of lives but we all appear lifeless in them, shrinking ourselves in an effort to fit our minds in. Sometimes, I look at faces and wonder how they look outside, when they’ll allow expression appear.

I don’t know if taking my backpack off, helps. I do it. To be polite. But… I think we need a little bit of another type of space: the space to be ourselves.

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