There is always an internal hummmm for the first day of school. As I woke on my first day of language school, February 4th 2019, I hoped we would arrive early! After all, we were leaving our house with an hour and a half to travel to class. We hustled 15 minutes to the nearest metro stop, more because of the crisp air than worry about time. The sky was growing from grey, to pink, to golden, as we turned the corner within view of where we’d wait for the train.

Kajjunk Kajjunk Kajunk, passed us. We woefully hurried behind a metro we knew we wouldn’t catch. It stopped momentarily, just out of reach, and continued downtown. There are no train times or schedules. Friends advised us before our first metro ride, “you never know when the next train will come, so hop on the first one you see…no matter how full.” I shifted my weight in the chill, wondering if we’d missed our best chance.

Some 20 minutes passed…under an hour til class begins. Kajjunk Kajjunkjunk. The metro stops before us. Its doors creek open and reveal people packed like new toothpaste in its tube…no room for any more. James and I nod at each other with understanding, go to separate doors, and wiggle our way in to the mess of body odor. A woman deep inside the tangle of limbs squeezes my elbow, sucking me in, so that I am not closed in the door.

I can not see anything but bodies. The lights flicker. The wheels groan. The train struggles to move again. The air is still; unmoving scents hang around my head, barely a whisper cuts the quiet of the crowd. James has been swallowed by the mass.

20 minutes later our train arrives at a central station. Our second train, which will take us to our final destination, is no where to be found. Without discussion, James and I fight the current of people to set off along the metro tracks, hoping to meet up with our train along the way. I nibble my egg sandwich with pesto and spicy sauce as we wonder what our first day of language will be like…only 30 minutes before class begins and 2 miles to go.


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