I leave work just on time and I hit the door of the building running at almost a full sprint. It seems I am always running these days. I fly through crosswalks and bump into other metro passengers to clumsily bumble down the endless escalator stumbling onto the platform to make the next train.
I needed this. I needed this to work for me. I needed this commute to be a smooth and seamless as possible because I want to keep my job and I want my child in daycare so at the very least, from the outside looking in, it would seem as if I had my shit together. I know that I do not. I’m always running, and when not running I am trapped underwater barely able to move.
I arrive at my transfer station and I run up the escalator glancing at my phone to check the time. I am ok. If I make the next rush hour train and the bus comes exactly when it’s supposed to I will be ok. I will bust in the daycare doors like a hero and sigh in relief when she comes running to me screaming my name, and I can hug her and nod a calm greeting to her daycare providers knowing that I didn’t inconvenience them by being late—AND, that I didn’t have to pay their extortionate late fees. This would be a good day, I could feel it.
I noticed the crowd as soon as I stepped off that last metal stair. There were throngs of people, an atmosphere of overall confusion, and a static voice over the loud speaker announcing that someone had been struck by a train. We all knew what that really meant. “Struck by a train” is metro code for: someone jumped in front of the train. I knew I wouldn’t be going anywhere for a long while.
I called the daycare to notify them I might be late for pickup. I knew that I would be more than just a little tardy– this wasn’t going to be a half hour deal, I was going to be here for the long haul. I called my mom to ask her to pick the baby up instead. I could just feel that umbilical cord snap me back to where I didn’t want to be. I just want my independence and my freedom. I just want to be free of depending on anyone for anything and I don’t know why achieving this has to be so difficult!
The other passengers in their anxious need to board whichever train arrived next had abandoned the hard concrete benches and stood in a crowded bunch on the platform. I plopped myself onto one of the benches and tried not to curse under my breath when an older gentleman sat right next to me, his eyes on me and his mouth ready to start up a chat.
“It’s a shame,” he said, trying to make eye contact. “Why in the world someone would jump in front of the train, I just don’t know.” He made this declaration as if it all made sense in his head, and I just stared through him without responding. I am not that socially awkward, I know I should have made an agreeable noise, nodded my head or SOMEthing, but without really thinking about it I chose to say nothing at all. When I get wind of news of a jumper on the train sadness comes over me yes– but also the tiniest bit of envy. Maybe that person has finally found freedom from a life of torture.
I would never condone suicide on any level, but I would be a liar if I said I didn’t understand it. I know what it is to stand on the edge of that metro train platform, swaying back and forth; you’re brain daring you to take the leap. I know what it is to see a razorblade at your wrist through a vision blurred by tears, asking yourself if this would be the day you would finally have the guts and the violence to follow through with it. A means of escape is all it really is and I’ve contemplated the option during my most cowardly moments. Why? Because who wants this? Who wants this life and who wants to be constantly fighting for peace of mind and freedom and happiness? For some it is a struggle simply to wake each morning, while others pop their eyes open simply thanking their god for another day of existence. Not everyone wants to exist; and in our search solace we plot out the worst. And you don’t have to understand us but you should at least know our story.
I should have told him the this, but I chose to remain silent.—just as silent as those of us who suffer. I had the opportunity to expose another truth to this man, other than that which fit neatly into his ideals and beliefs about what life is and what life should be. “Why in the world would someone jump in front of a train, I just don’t know!” I should have turned my face toward him and responded loud and clear, “I know…”