The subway is always changing. Crowds gather and dissipate, eyes looking for the next train, already seeing their destination. Each train that arrives spits out new waves of people to crash against the crowded platform.
No one takes much notice of me.
I’m set up against a wall in a folding chair, out of the way but with a great view of the comings and goings. I sit cross-legged, balanced on my seat, my sketchbook cradled in my lap and my pencil hovering above the page. Nothing stays long, so I don’t give myself the time to second guess anything. If it catches my eye, I draw it. By the time I know if it’s good or bad, I have finished, the subject has moved on, and something else is catching my eye.
A leather briefcase, a girls’ braid, a patchwork newsboy cap, a wrinkled hand. I sketch glimpses of the crowd before the train arrives to sweep them away.
I have dozens of half-finished faces, never quite fast enough to catch them before they go, leaving me with almost memories of people I could have known.
There are a few, however, who I see here often, whose faces I have captured bit by bit. I mix pieces of them that I see with stories I make up for them, and sometimes I wonder how close I get to being right.
The crowds disappear with the departing subway, and for a few moments there is stillness. The echoes of the train speeding away fades into the sound of my own heart beating inside me. My pencil stills over a new page, waiting for the next crowd to gather.
They come and go, swell and disperse, fleeting glimpses of them caught on my pages. I’m drawing the sea foam on waves, the ripples of water as it speeds by.
Nothing stays, not for long, so I catch pieces before they go. I’m a collector, I suppose.
A collector of moments.