Last night, while walking to the train through midtown Manhattan, I walked past a group of people clustered around a Subaru. A girl, maybe sixteen-years-old, in cut-off denim shorts and a racerback tee, held onto a pink leash attached around the neck of a brown goat. The goat stood on the Subaru like the Subaru was a rocky crag. He refused to come down. Some people took photos. Others stood back, watching, unsure what to do. The girl with the leash looked down at her phone, almost like she was bored.
I looked. I tilted my head a bit, probably. And then I kept walking.
I thought: Okay, New York. I get it.
Last year, in a poetry workshop, our professor asked the class if we had ever screamed — really screamed. We looked around at each other. Had we? It’s shocking to think, sometimes, how people and being with people mutes these natural instincts. When your insides feel like they’re kept at that exact moment of inhale and screaming becomes catharsis, but you can’t scream because you’re rattling along beneath a city, surrounded by yawning babies and coughing businessmen and mothers who glare at you because you are not them. Morning after morning after morning.
Being human is uncomfortable and weird and full of these edges we can’t see and sometimes we’re walking down a sidewalk, being elbowed on all sides, and there’s a goat on a car refusing to get down, surrounded by people, and we feel bad for the goat because we get why it’s being so rude. If we were forced to be here in that way, we’d be that rude too. But we’re not forced, which is perhaps the thing. We chose this. We chose the claustrophobia and empty savings accounts and no parking spaces and that late night smell of someone barbecuing outside at 2 a.m. to the sound of techno.
We chose to be in this place where we empathize with a goat on a car.
I haven’t screamed in years.