imaginary outfit: high summer subway commuter

imaginary outfit: high summer subway commuter

Getting to work every morning is a process of wilting. I set out from my lightly air-conditioned apartment, fresh and crisp, and make my way slowly through the warm halls and lobby of my building out to the tree-shaded street. 75% of the year it's a brisk walk to the subway, but I resist the impulse to speed up. At the station entrance, I go down the first set of stairs and check the arrival clock. If the next train is arriving in three minutes or less, I step down to the platform. Otherwise, I wait. The stale air of the entry is at least ten degrees cooler than the hot breath of the platform, and I put off stepping into it as long as possible. Sometimes it can't be helped, and you just wait as the people fill in around you. An exotic display of sweat stains appear: cross-body from commuter bags, temples and napes, small of back and belly crease. Hands and feet are already swollen, rings and sandal straps tight. I pity the people who truly have to dress up: their ironed shirts and shifts falling to limpness and wrinkles, sleeked-back hairstyles frizzling out. The train comes and everyone piles in. If I'm lucky, the car doesn't fill and the air conditioning actually chills me, but more often the goal is simply not touching anyone or being touched, trying to preserve your own centimeter perimeter of unbroken space. I have a long ride, and the train usually empties out before I get off. If I've made it this far, relatively fresh, the ten minute walk to work finishes me, no matter how slow I go. It takes all eight hours in the mild air conditioning of my office to cool back down, and then it's time to go home — always a hotter trip.

Dresses, folding paper fans, and ventilated shoes are my three-point commuter strategy, plus something engrossing to read to make time go faster.


I've been eying these netted bags and wondering how to justify owning one since I don't do much picturesque produce buying. I'm thinking they might be perfect for toting around books and blankets for sunny-day park reading excursions.

As ever, you can click the image to find the sources for each item in the collage.