Metropolis: A Boston Summer

Kathryn Bilinski


This train chugs along relentlessly – burning, yearning, returning – completely unaware of the sleepy state of its inhabitants. But today I feel akin to my locomotive as it thunders along the well-beaten path of a familiar route – constantly striving for the destination but not knowing which way is home.


Twitchy toes and dancing fingers. The hum of 60-volt bulbs creates an underlying drone, a tension nuanced by the ever-changing context; layers of harmonic frequencies contributed by the passing voices, footsteps, and printers. The rhythmic content of computer keyboards provides the backbeat to this corporate composition. We wait for the resolve.


He’s a slight man; well put-together with exceptionally white Nike sneakers. His protruding fanny pack gives the illusion of a tummy. His hands are delicate, firmly grasping a small book bound in old FedEx packaging with little notes scribbled indiscriminately over the cover. This right-handed artist whittles away the stuffy bus hours sketching the freshness of impressionistic flowers.


I watch him as he runs: a skippy canter with immense determination though the small circle he’s running in leads him nowhere, without a beginning or an end. A drenched t-shirt hangs well past his knees over a pair of new swimming trunks that are now clinging in all the wrong places. Little hands methodically reach up to wipe the fountain from his eyes and you know he is seeing the perfect summer day.


It is a photographer’s dream: a heap of angles and planes; thousands of tiny vantage points; the edges distinguishing and yet connecting. Every color of the spectrum is present. The dull browns and grays augmenting the orange, yellows, and reds. And to think this is just a pile of junk.


I am hyperaware. I constantly calculate my life as a function: past, present and future in terms of the most probable outcomes to the least common denominators. But as I hang suspended from an unnatural perspective – my head hanging between my shoulders, butt up in the air, a human triangle – I slowly start to let go, rooting myself to the moment, even if it starts as just hanging on for dear life.


Nestled in a blanket of black and white print, I lose myself in fragile intangible images. They threaten to disperse with the slightest sigh but in the privacy of my Monday afternoon they gather and multiply filling the corners of this apartment with colorful memories I pretend are my own.


As we near the dining room, he pops his head out from the other side of the doorway, a grinning jack-o-lantern face, mismatched teeth and googly-eyes. “Oh! HellOO!” he exclaims in broken English. “Just two?! OH YES!” And he energetically marches us to dinner, wielding the menus.


There is nothing like a muggy summer evening in Boston. Eager voices giggle up to my fifth story window while small protests cling to the last rays of sunlight, belonging to those children hoping to push off bed time for just one more hour. Even the air tingles with the expectation of rain.


And we make our nest amidst the city’s lullaby of night dwellers and the relentless grumble of traffic. It’s a provocative dissonance; the interplay of cackling inebriation answered by the treble whine of car horns gives way to an accentuated contrapuntal composition while the slow glissando of an approaching siren provides a consistent harmonic bed. The soundtrack for my subconscious.

An Epilogue…


I look at the differences between her words and mine. They look the same; roughly the same size, shape, ratio of black to white, the same 30 characters repeated in purposeful sequences. Yet as I read them, I find that hers are mostly about others while mine are in reference to myself: the difference between woman who knows who she is and a woman who is still figuring it out.

On any given day Kathryn (Katie) Bilinski can be found bustling around Boston, coffee cup in hand, documenting the fascinating hubbub around her. Currently majoring in Electronic Production and Design, Katie also interweaves her urban observations into her bass-playing, writing, and photography as well as her BIRN broadcast, Correspondence.