A few friends were recently discussing their New York bucket lists, and every time they listed one of the things they had yet to do in the city, my response was, “I’ve done that.” It prompted me to try to think of what would be on my list, and I couldn’t think of anything. There are a few places outside of the city I’d like to visit, and there are a few events I wouldn’t mind attending, but there isn’t really anything that, if I suddenly had to leave the city tomorrow, I’d be upset to have missed.
So instead of crossing something off a list, I participated in something that I never had any desire to be involved with: the No Pants Subway Ride.
It was as cold as it sounds. And honestly, I don’t know how much longer it will last, since most people know all about it and natives barely bat an eye to see a stunt as mundane as people in their underwear on the train. It’s New York, after all. But it was kind of nice to stand on the platform, see tourists looking at me, and know exactly what they were looking at.
So often, we’re anonymous to strangers, and usually I enjoy that feeling, the mutual understanding that I mean absolutely nothing to these people whose paths I cross. It helps when you’re trying to convince yourself that your problems must be either a.) insignificant because no one else seems to care about them, or b.) significant because no one else is aware of them. Riding the subway without pants lets you, for a brief period of time, be someone to these strangers, even if it’s only “that girl wearing her underwear on the train.” The shield of anonymity lifts for a moment, and you are a person that causes others to take notice.
I would like to do something with my life that causes others (even a small number of others–I’d be happy with a number as small as 1) to notice me. I would like to feel someone looking at me and know exactly why they’re looking. I would like it to be for a positive, real reason that has nothing to do with my attire, like if I wrote something someone loved, or if I simply was somebody someone loved. But in the meantime, at least now I know what it feels like. Not wearing pants gave me something to aspire to, so if you have an NYC bucket list, it might not be the worst idea to add this event to yours.