Looking Out, Looking In

Someone once said that New York is just like anywhere else, only more intense. It makes a lot of sense to me — with so many people in so relatively small an area, everyday life here has an intensity that’s sometimes thrillingly joyous, sometimes excruciatingly painful. Living here means seeing the best and worst things that humans are capable of, sometimes in the very same moments. You see happiness, hope, hatred, affection, disappointment, despair. This is the human condition: in your face, 24/7. To protect yourself from being swallowed up by it all (and by your fellow inhabitants), you put on an attitude of indifference, an air of toughness. But there’s always the risk that you’ll go from looking indifferent to being indifferent.

I was riding the 4 train to Brooklyn on my lunch hour. I was in a good mood, heading to Sahadi’s to buy some falafel and hummus for a party later that night. I sat down and noticed this identically-dressed mother and daughter. They were silent and the woman looked heartbroken. I wanted to know why and to offer some reassurance, but you don’t do that with a stranger on the subway. It bothered me to be helpless. All I could think to do was quietly take a photo of the moment.

(4 train to Brooklyn)