Left on the Tracks

I often wonder about the stuff that gets lost on the subway tracks. Not the bottles and bags and wrappers — who cares? But a child’s shoe? A stuffed animal holding a heart that says “I Love You”? A wrapped bouquet of flowers? These things meant something to someone at one time. Maybe they meant the wrong thing. (I’d like to see how the flowers ended up down there.) But they meant something.

It’s kind of crazy, the things we place emotional value on. When I was a little kid, I had a wooden toy dog on wheels. The axles were bent, on purpose, I think, to make the dog wobble as you pulled him along on his red string. His little plastic ears hung down on swivels and swung forward and back as he hobbled along.

I used to have recurring nightmares of dropping that dog into Lake Michigan (technically, the Straits of Mackinac) while crossing the Mackinac Bridge on foot. I’d dangle it over the edge and watch it swing. You know that way kids take risks with their toys — or their lives — dangling things in dangerous places. Some of us as adults continue to do this.

I’ve never been on that bridge on foot, and I don’t know if it’s even possible to dangle anything over the edge. (Though I’ve been on it plenty of times in a car, and I do know it’s possible to get knocked off that bridge without dangling anything.) Nonetheless, it was horrifying for me to consider.


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the untallied hours

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