I took the tube back (on my own) from Finsbury Park today. Walking from the Victoria line to the Northern line at Warren Street station, it felt really surreal because I saw myself looking through the lenses of a camera, looking as a film maker would, at the scenes that was passing me by. I could totally imagine watching what i was seeing in a movie.
People hurrying down the stairs, looking down, watching their steps. Everyone is moving in the same direction, a few people have turned around or to their side to talk to someone they know as they walk descend. Everyone is looking forward or down. Click clack, click, clack, waiting for the person in front to move before they take the next step. there is little confusion, there is little exchange between strangers. they are just a flow of strangers moving down the staircase, caught up in their own thoughts, identities and feelings.
How much attention then do we pay to the ‘crush of bodies’ that we encounter daily in the city. Personally, I remember very few. Even the ones that I remember as good-looking at that moment vanish from memory just hours later. I just don’t take much note of the people around me. Although I do remember a couple on the tube. The girl went to sit down but the guy remained standing. I remember looking at someone’s purple coat and wondering if it was from Dorothy Perkins. I remember very little else. Is it as Simmel says then, that we are always guarding ourselves against everything that’s coming at us in the city? But I remember thinking that it is so exciting and exhilarating to be traveling on the tube all by myself, surrounded by complete strangers. a part of me feels liberated. Is that what David Metz describes as the joys of traveling?
Strangers in the city… we all are. But there is that spark of possibility that we could be friends.