award-winning documentarian: radio + music + photography
I was in theater school reciting lines in the subway on my journey uptown, engrossed in the words and thoughts of Ophelia. It was a chilly October afternoon and what helped me focus, aside from the rumbling rhythm of the train, was knitting. Funny to knit while in the midst of executives shoulder to shoulder with artists, next to homeless folks blending in with every culture and creed together, it seemed, in one train car during sardine time on the subway. My big bag held the knitting skein I was weaving with long, unsharp needles as the train came to 79th Street Station. I remember the moment when I stopped knitting and put it away to deliberate about whether or not I'd get off the train to buy a book at the corner store. The doors opened. I was standing there and just as the doors were about to close I jumped off onto the platform, deciding yes to the bookstore.
The subway doors closed on my bag which was tightly wrapped around my right side body and neck.
I screamed to the subway conductor that I was stuck in the doors. From inside the car I saw people try to push my bag out. Then, the doors slightly opened to accommodate my bag, which, from the momentum, sunk my right leg down into the space between the platform and the subway car. My right leg was all the way down, up to my pelvis, while the rest of my body was struggling to get up before the subway took off.
In this split second of a moment an angel, some amazing fluke of grace of a person, lifted me up by my armpits and the subway took off instantly. I never saw his eyes. I know I was lifted up by a big man who saved my life in this near death experience. Life flashed before my eyes like a shock of lightning, and, later, a black and blue bruised hip and upper thigh left evidence that the incident happened at all. I might have not believed it happened otherwise.
That experience was one of a string of near death experiences which brought me closer to my aliveness and its absolute fragility. At a young age I gained a healthy respect for that which cannot be seen or measured.
I went to the bookstore, in utter shock, and sat down ever so slowly. Then, silently, took out my needles and began to feel, for the first time, the radiant life force of my hands knit.