I used to feel the floor vibrating under me all the time. Buildings would shake, couches would quiver, and beds would tremble. I could practically hear their unnatural, unearthly quake.
When I first moved into my Manhattan studio apartment, it vibrated so heavily that my reflection buzzed in the bathroom mirror. I initially dismissed it as my imagination, until my housewarming party when a friend emerged disturbed from it, asking, "Why is your bathroom vibrating?"
Maybe it was the Mexican restaurant downstairs, its kitchen and exhaust vent situated directly below my bedroom. Maybe it was a phantom train running along secretly constructed rails of the Second Avenue Subway. Whatever it was, whether sleeping or awake, my life was shaking.
One day without incident, I noticed stillness. I'd already lived in my apartment for a couple of years, and had become a veteran at my job, and at some point, the tremors had ceased. I don't know when it happened. I never noticed the change of state as it happened. It's just that one day I discovered that my life was standing still.
The quietude, of course, didn't last. Although my bed was no longer shaking at night (or any other time, for that matter), my life was soon turned upside down. My job turned on me. The walls started closing in on me, both at the office and at home. I couldn't wait to get away, to be away, to feel the rumble of the road beneath me, the racketing of trains and the vaulting of planes, which shook me enough to the core to make my body aware that it was going somewhere.
Lately, even though I've been grounded in New York for the last couple of months, I've noticed some signs of movement in my life: my bed displaced off its frame, books fallen off the shelves and frames cocked to one side on the wall. I sense the subway's arrival like a cow before a storm. And I press my toes firmly into my shoes to feel the pulse of music, the wind, or a heavy-footed stranger headed my way.
Sitting in a waiting room this afternoon, I placed the palm of my hand on the back of the couch where I sat, and wondered what was making it shake, on the fourth floor of a solid stone building on a clear, calm day.
And then I thought, maybe the world isn't vibrating around me. Maybe it's coming from within me.
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