Where I'm From

Meditations of a subway poet.
A view of Coney Island from the subway tracks.

I’m from a neighborhood on the edge of the Big City and the Great Wide Suburbia, and from a community that’s ostracized me for being different and thus an overall bad influence. I am from a town where Manhattan is “the city” and the beach is a quick drive over the Marine Parkway Bridge. I am from the first stop on the B100, the local bus of my neighborhood; occasionally I am from the BM1, the overpriced express bus to Midtown. I am from the Q train, running from Sea Gate to Hell Gate. I am from the simple pleasures of watching the sunrise as my train rumbles over the Manhattan Bridge; I am of the intricate abandoned subway tunnels and stations.

I am from two different worlds, one where I live and one where I go to school; I am from the three hours spent on the trains that connect the two. I am from the countless hours of subway rides, pondering who I am and who I want to be — I believe that I am the end result of these thoughts. I am from the stories that came from these long subway rides, from the time that a stranger tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if my hair was naturally this curly; I am from the stories that were inspired from these fond memories. I am from the countless gigabytes of photographs taken of these trains. 

I am from the notebooks I’ve filled on these trains with ideas that stayed as they went nowhere. I am from the few good stories that came from these ideas and the critiques that resulted. I am from the hopes and dreams that were dashed when I was told that, yes, they know it was my favorite piece but it lacked a plot and that, yes, they know I hated that other story, but it was really my best piece yet. I am from the time I was told that I should quit writing because I wasn’t getting anywhere. I am from the books that I started to write, but realized that the plot had dissolved 20 pages in. I’m from my portfolio assignments that I’ve written at midnight, thinking to myself, “It’s 11:45 at night, I need to kill this character already,” and then having him jump off the Verrazano Bridge three pages later, and me feeling so alive.

author's bio: 
Amram D. Altzman is a junior at Ramaz Upper School in Manhattan. He wrote this while a participant at the Brandeis Institute for Music and Art in Waltham, MA. 

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 2012-06-26 08:37

Ami, this is truly a very nice piece. Keep on writing! --Your old friend Norman

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