Lines That Cross

María Martínez Romero | SIPA, Class of 2018

An explosion ripped across the street. White smoke rose on the horizon.

People started moving fast. I began running too. I did not know where we were headed. People ran out from the bars and restaurants, alerted by the  blast. They were asking us what had happened. “Explosion”. Nobody knew anything else.

A woman holding her child ran by me and yelled, “We have to get out of here.” However, the traffic was immediately closed. The metro was not an option. I walked a few blocks looking for a taxi. All the Uber drivers cancelled my trip requests. After 20 minutes, one finally picked me up and brought me back to safety, away from the explosion.

That night got me thinking. It had begun like any other night. I was simply transferring from one subway line to another. In the labyrinth of New York metro system, lines cross to follow different directions. Lives go parallel to each other and crash sometimes. Other times, people cross their ways without even seeing each other.

One of these common transfer spots is 23rd Street. People from the red line have to go out of the station on the corner of 7th Avenue. People typically walk quickly by 23rd street to go into the station of the next corner on 8th Avenue, where they get on the F line.

I had to do this transfer last Saturday, at 8:30. I was simply changing lines, as thousands of people do every day, so I could go downtown to have dinner with a friend. It was my third week in the huge city of New York. My first time in Chelsea, just to change lines.

When I went out of the station on the corner of 7th avenue I was disoriented.  I looked at both sides of the street. Should I go to the right or to the left? Guided by Google Maps, I decided to go to left. I walked 30 seconds and when I had a second look at my phone I discovered I was walking in the wrong direction. Then I turned around. I started heading to 8th avenue. The right direction.

The bomb exploded. I was shocked.

Lines cross constantly. We can pass very close.

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