The Trek

Aug 2018
By Jeffrey Chang

The bus dropped me off mid-Manhattan at midnight, and I had to get back to that Brooklyn apartment. Already, my mind was already drifting in and out of consciousness, relentlessly attacked by fragmented shards of painful thoughts. I was exhausted—physically, mentally, emotionally—and wanted to just lay down and fall asleep. But I had to get back. I wandered through hazy midtown streets, weaving my way through faceless crowds of false cheers, bouncing around like a pinball to the ebb and flow of electric traffic signals, counting the street numbers one by one by one and gradually losing count, losing my awareness, losing myself in an uncountable mass of intoxicated people on the streets of the city that never sleeps. The smell of halal food filled my ears as bits and pieces of conversations floated past my nose, reminding me of lives I'd never encounter again, of apartments I've never rented or of parties I've never attended; all the while, an impending doom and gloom slowly pulled its covers over my soul, over a heart too tired to think, a mind too broken to feel ... I glanced at a grimy window on a nearby empty building, and saw the reflection of a young man who had given up all hope, a scholar who lost his books, a musician who had broken his instrument, a miserable soul lost in the streets of New York City, alone and preoccupied with his incoherent thoughts. Soon, this desolate young man found himself sitting by himself in the rear car of a subway, struggling to keep himself awake while a heartless disembodied voice proclaimed his inner thoughts for all to hear: "Dekalb avenue"... "stand clear of the closing doors" ... "please watch your belongings" ... drifting in and out of awareness, trapped in a stifled delirium filled with strange thoughts and strange odors and strange textures. Soon he'd return to his lodging—his musty, lifeless, nightmare-inducing room in a beat-up, run-down part of town—to collapse onto rented bedsheets. This was the Stanford scholar, the proud son, the joyous scientist, the eccentric musician—helplessly pulled through a hole in the ground, surrounded by strangers in a strange land, on a midsummer night's misery.

Last updated on Dec 2, 2019