Sunday, August 30, 2015

In college, I commuted from my house in Flushing, Queens. This was an era when most books were still read as actual paper books, making my schoolbag usually really heavy. I always carried around at minimum a few magazines, school books, and most likely a book I was reading on my own. Because my commute was an hour-and-a-half one way, I made sure to have a selection of different reading material available at all times. There's nothing worst than being stuck on the subway---or anywhere for that matter---without something good to read. On a lot of days I would be out and walking around with all this stuff from morning until I got back home to Queens at night. The books and magazines often tossed around in my bag and endured a lot of wear and tear throughout the day. No matter how hard I attempted to keep them in good condition, it wasn't a surprise if some of them got damaged as they traveled with me to school, work, internships, or a late night out with friends. The weight of lugging everything around all day was easy to get used to, and after a while it grew into something I appreciated. It became a reminder of different things, and if my bag ever felt too light, I always noticed.

Nowadays, I'll normally only carry around one book and maybe a magazine. My selection is kept lighter due to the fact that I commit myself to reading one book at a time, and also because of my smartphone. For the one book that I always have, I figured out a simple solution in keeping them from getting messed up. While it doesn't have to fight for space in my bag with pounds of other reading material, my one book can sometimes take me a bit of time to finish. And the longer I tote it around, its condition is more likely to worsen. That's why a year ago, I started to keep my books in a gallon size Ziploc freezer bag. Doing so has made a tremendous difference. Now my books never have their corners bent while in my bag, and I don't worry about anything spilling onto them. The covers also don't get damaged and the edge of the pages always remain intact.

Last week on Thursday, I was in a taxi with a friend heading to Brooklyn after a late night out in the East Village. We were going to their house so I could crash, and my friend had had a bit too much to drink. At some point as we both sat in the backseat of the SUV, they told me they were going to be sick and had to barf. Being in the back of a moving car, we were totally unprepared for this. But that's when I reached into my tote bag, and pulled out the book I was reading from its huge Ziploc bag. It was just at the right moment because that's when my friend began to vomit profusely into it, until the bag was a little less than half filled. When we finally got out of the cab, I can remember feeling the weight of the freezer bag in my hand as we stood on the sidewalk. It was heavy. In a twisted way, it made me think that when Ziploc bags ordinarily have a mass like that, it's usually a good thing. To have that much leftovers or food would be a meal, but this was something completely different. This is how bags of throw-up end up in trash cans on the streets of New York.

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