"Twenty" by Maddie G: A Flash Essay

Posted by Maddie on October 22, 2011 at 1:40 PM

“Twenty” by Maddie G

Living a mile away from my school, I start my weekdays with a twenty-minute walk on the fast-paced streets of Manhattan’s New York City. Each morning, I follow the same mental and physical routine: I navigate the streets with my eye for safety and my mind for reflecting. I wake up ten minutes later than my friends and I walk alone. I prefer my own morning schedule.

The second I leave my building’s lobby, I am sucked into a culture where jaywalking is not enough to save time. I pass business professionals checking newspapers to catch up on overnight news, mothers dragging young ones to school, and students studying flashcards for their tests later that day. There is no time: everyone is preparing for what lies ahead. The future is the new present. When I walk to school, each person I make eye contact with is focused on catching up— speed becomes skewed and the passage of time is his worst enemy. I isolate myself from this morning dash. I enjoy walking at my own unruffled stride even though I usually end up subconsciously mimicking the speed of the surrounding New Yorkers two minutes in. I call this alone time my “restorative twenty.”

Glancing around, the surrounding mass of people are on moving walkways zipping past me. Each person has a purpose and I’m anxious I won’t fulfill mine because I chose wake up ten minutes later and walk slower. My twenty-minute walk holds the same purpose as the twenty minutes I lie awake in bed and stare at the ceiling after a long day before dancing into a deep deserved sleep. I start to feel like my identity is just a photocopy of the classmate next to me. We even look the same. My school requires uniforms. Growing up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan brings a whole new set of standards; the small privileged community lacks the diversity needed to destroy assumptions. That is why my walk to school is the temporary time slot my guard is completely down and my individuality is exposed to the convoluted mess of people we live to please.

Here is a glimpse into my daily life. Hope this inspires you to go write a new piece!


Categories: Flash Poetry, Portfolio, Maddie

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