The train rides home are stressful at best and infuriating at worst; here in the Philippines we often deal with ever-failing systems and questionable characters on a standard commute. It’s not uncommon for us to experience having someone lined up behind you attempt to overtake as the car doors open, breaking away, shoving, contorting into odd shapes, and I think…
We are made up of each other.
I’m not thinking about genetics (even though family does make up more of us than strangers do). I’m thinking about how we all form each other, fine fractals of action shaping a person, building a movement, reinforcing identity. I’m thinking about how our experiences are experienced by the world, which feeds back to us.
I’m thinking about how boundaries are and are not. I’m thinking about how we believe that no one should be in our spaces while asserting our existence in theirs.
I’m thinking that we’re all made up of each other.
As I curve my torso over my things and attempt to fold into a space-saving singularity, I think about the middle-aged woman with her elbow at my back, muttering profanities at a mother who refused to let her cut in. I remember some all-too-human teachers, all-powerful in classrooms, passing judgement and feeding ego in one blow—this woman is like them, I think.
Or I think she is because they have come before her like insects in my ears, unforgettable buzzing that enrages me. Their hum has become part of my bones, and as I shift, her marrow subtly shakes.
I pass judgement at her with a look, and I become part of her; the impertinent younger woman. The teachers become part of her, righteous and proud in the face of my anonymous disapproval.
No matter what we do, I think, we are made up of each other.
Even disembarking doesn’t stop these thoughts; I watch an old man shuffle out the special section of the train. His steps are small and painful, but he persists. I watch him reach the platform bench before I do, exhaling in admiration. He makes me think of my grandfather, human and legend, whom I never see anymore.
I think it’s because we are too alike; stubborn and proud, unconsciously inflicting ourselves on the world while being the good metaphorical soldiers we are.
I sit beside him to finish reading a paragraph in my Kindle; he almost leaves his wallet. I call out and I become part of him, proof of decency in the world. His gratitude becomes part of my grandfather, and I briefly entertain the thought of writing a letter.
But I need to get home and the words get lost in the folds of my mind. I wouldn’t know what to say, so I say nothing.
The turnstile spins as I leave the station; without thinking, I start sewing patches of strange people onto the fabric of my life.
Instead, I think: we are made up of each other, such exquisite corpses.