The Different Eyes You See On The Subway, In Alphabetical Order


Animated Eyes

Animated Eyes belong to the person who’s engaging. They’re drunk and singing Ace of Base with four of their friends; they’re falling in love with their significant other over an average conversation. When you see someone with Animated Eyes, you wish they’d get off the fucking train. They remind you of who you are, which is not someone with Animated Eyes.

Crying Eyes

Crying Eyes belong to the person who has just finished crying, is just about to cry, or is somewhere between the two. You feel exposed in their presence; they’re releasing the kind of raw, naked pain that’s only fit to be released into the center of a pillow. You can look at them or you can look away, it won’t change anything.

Drunk Eyes

Drunk Eyes are red or yellow and cause you to subconsciously hold your belongings a little bit tighter, adjust your skirt. They’re half-closed and heavy. They’re fluttering; they’re flirting with you and with the prospect of sleep. You might remember them, but they won’t remember you.

Happy Eyes

Happy Eyes belong to the person who is pleased with where they’ve just been or where they’re headed. Their Happy Eyes are often accompanied by a Stupid Grin. So open and toothy that for a moment, your own eyes can’t look away. Your own eyes are Happy Eyes. The person who just heard, “I love you” for the first time, the person who just aced an interview, or the person who is simply grateful that they can’t recognize themselves in the other passengers; that’s who Happy Eyes belong to.

Headphone Eyes

Headphone Eyes look lost, like their owner is appreciating a language that no one else can understand. They dart around; self-conscious and all too aware that no matter how stimulated they are, they must stay in control. They can’t glaze over in ecstasy, they can’t shed a tear, and they can’t fully connect with what their neighbors, The Ears, have chosen to share with them. Headphone Eyes are always masquerading, pretending they’re Stoic Eyes or Indifferent Eyes, but the way they gleam gives them away.

Reading Eyes

Reading Eyes always have temporary Crow’s Feet. Squinting is their way of trying to block out the noise, keep the train from jerking, stop a stranger from reading over a shoulder. Anything to concentrate, anything to not read the same paragraph for the fourth time. Anything to turn the page.

Sleeping Eyes

If Sleeping Eyes are shut tight; they’re a façade, a fence to keep meddling strangers away. They clench tightly so that the other senses, namely hearing, will have no choice but to alert the body that its stop is here. But if Sleeping Eyes are loose, if the eyelids gently balance on one another like yin and yang, the person with Sleeping Eyes is truly asleep – twitching and dreaming and being carried further and further away from home.

Tired Eyes

Tired Eyes belong to the single parent making their way home after a twelve-hour shift. They belong to the sex worker whose Point A and Point B are geographically different and intrinsically the same. They belong to the person who’s just lost a parent, just lost a job, just lost themselves; they belong to a lawyer who’s just lost a case, to the family who’s just lost their home. Tired Eyes wish they were Sleeping Eyes, but the knowledge that sleep can’t cure them is what makes them Tired in the first place.

Wandering Eyes

Wandering Eyes are rogue; they’ll eye fuck you in broad daylight while their owner sits wrapped tightly around their significant other. Wandering Eyes are running up and down the length of your thigh, filling in the blanks. Wandering Eyes are undressing you; they’re seeing soft swatches of fabric you’ve put on for someone else. They’re so loud and intrusive that you don’t just see them; you hear them. They’re saying, “You. You. You.”

Wistful Eyes

Wistful Eyes look past you and into the scratched, soiled window your head is resting on. They’re reflecting on their reflection. They’re blinking away the things they’ve lost, the things they miss, and the things they can’t remember. They’re envisioning their mother in her favorite nightgown or the face of a former lover. They’re on the verge of figuring out the universe; enlightened enough to understand the things that fly miles above your head, but wise enough to know that possibilities are anything but endless.

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