I was going to say it started in the morning when I woke up. I was going to say it started when I opened the curtains and saw the sun shining, telling me, “Hey, girl, hey. It’s a new day.” But I happen to believe that some of the best things start from something bad. Maybe even the greatest things come out of something terrible.
So I think it started earlier, possibly the night before. It was a Saturday night and a busy night at work. The cold weather that was supposed to be on its way out must have brought in a more bitter crowd than usual. Between the good - because most of the crowds at work are indeed lovely - the bad started to spot the hours and then the minutes. Tables were spinning. Feet were tripping. Elbows were pushing. Old women with spurts of color that seemed to spot their face at random were leaning in towards me. They were hungry. They were angry. They were wondering what had happened to their reservation. But I wasn’t wondering. We don’t take reservations at our restaurant. Instead, I was wondering why people lied so much, even over the little things like reservations or maybe even if they liked your or not.
An angry Jewish man began to yell at me at one point. “You are not being considerate. You don’t respect that I have only so many hours in a day. There are only so many hours in an evening! You are not a considerate person! You do not care about us!” His big nose haunted my iPad where a list of many more people needed to eat before him existed.
At one point, in the midst of the crowd, for there were no corners to crawl into, my stomach churned. My head burned. I knew this feeling: the feeling of vomiting comes right before I usually faint. I felt immediately sick and dizzy. My breathing at first began to fail, and then it started to fight back with its lungs in quick sporadic bursts. Not now- not at work. Uh-oh. It was sometime between 1 and 2 a.m. on a busy Saturday night—Sunday morning, pardon me—but suddenly I couldn’t hear a thing.
Just before my knees buckled, a co-worker grabbed my shoulders. “Jade. You okay?” I nodded. The sound of the room had come back. “Are you sure? It’s okay if you’re not.”
“I am okay,” I said. His extra question and concern gave me strength for some reason. Emotion flooded my chest. Tears filled my eyes—tears of gratitude. All it took was a question, a concern, a moment of care, and I was back on my feet.
“Alright then. I’m taking off for the night. Stay warm,” He said. A hug and then I was back on my own.
Another hour and I was standing waiting for the F train. I tried to make myself laugh by mixing up the letters… “The F Train…F The train. Train the F…” It was nice to be off work. Nice to not be noticed. Nice to not be yelled at. Nice to not be bumped into or pushed over. At the platform at two thirty in the morning, I was invisible.
The platform filled up quickly with many people—the F train took forever so a crowd had formed. I gave up on finding a seat for the long rides home.
There were many couples who could see no one but each other. I watched them sometimes. The girl with her arms around the neck of her man. The lips pressed against lips. They did not care who was watching. They did not care who was staring. They just cared to be kissing. And instead of thinking, hey, get a room! I thought hey, that’s nice. I thought, if I had someone that I wanted to kiss, I would kiss him right then and there too.
Large drunk groups with usually one or two funnier louder friends made a ruckus, but they all meant well. They were loud and most of the time obnoxious, but a couple times they made me laugh.
There would be the crying girl with smeared makeup and a dress that had been put on for steamy weather - but it was only being worn alone on a cold subway ride bound for home.
There were the homeless. They seems to target the single women mostly—including me. It was if they believed I was more compassionate and sympathetic because I was alone and a woman. However, I think they are specialists in their field and maybe there was something to their strategy. I must have let them down when I shook my head and said no thanks when they walked by.
There were the others like me. They speckled the platform on their own. We were the tired. The restless. The ones with sore feet and sober eyes. We sometimes looked at each other when a drunk New Yorker did or said something completely ridiculous like “I don’t know what my mind is saying! I just don’t anymore!” I was fond of those moments.
The train came. A transfer had to be made. Out on the platform again I was after twenty minutes. This time, a man stood holding a skateboard. A buzzed man exclaimed to him, “I’ve always wanted to be able to do a trick on a sssskateboard.”
“I’ll show you how,” the man replied. He dropped his skateboard. He did a little jump on the board and everyone oohed and awed. Then he pushed the board over to the stranger and said, “Here, I’ve got you. Now you try.” They took up the center of the platform and everyone watched while the two men worked out the instructions of the skateboard trick.
It took a good seven minutes before the man actually attempted the jump, but he landed with the help of his new friend. The entire platform clapped for the skateboard noob, including me. The tall black skateboarder clasped hands with the slurring white rookie and they brought it in for one of those man hug things. Then the L came and whisked us all away to Brooklyn.
When I got home, my roommates were asleep. I kicked off my shoes. My feet throbbed. It was funny because they almost were as sore as they used to get when I had played a long tennis match. I threw off my shirt, maybe. I saw the looming face of the angry man telling me that I wasn’t a considerate person…And then I drifted off to sleep.
When I woke up, the sun was shining through my curtains. I immediately looked out the window and felt the warmth of sunlight. I changed into my warm leggings and decided to hit the gym before I changed my mind. I greeted my roommate who was sipping coffee, writing, and reading all at once and then I was out the door…and then I turned around, hopped upstairs, and returned to the apartment.
“You’re back soon,” My roommate said without looking up.
“It. Is. So. Warm!”
I ran into my room and put on my spandex shorts for the first time since I left for New York. I threw on a tank top over my purple sports bra and walked back into the kitchen.
“How long will you be?”
“Thirty minutes. If i’m lucky.”
“Do you want to go to Central Park afterwards and throw bread to the ducks?”
“See you in thirty.”
Running was wonderful. My hands and ears were cold, but I didn’t care. It was nice to look down and see my legs. They weren’t quite tan like they used to be, but skin. Skin! I loved it. I felt closer to myself. Closer to my body.
After I showered, I put on a dress and wore my jean jacket. Josh brought his sunglasses and threw his jacket over his shoulder. We were ready for a day in New York City.
I don’t know if I had just wanted it to be warm or if I was tricked by the sun, but it was not warm. In fact, it was still freezing. The entire walk to the train, Josh and I were debating on whether or not we should turn back and at the least, bundle up.
But I think he wanted it to be duck-feeding weather as much as I did, so we soldiered on.
I should have known it was going to be a good day because we were able to sit on every train ride that we took. Josh shared his favorite falafel place with me, and we walked over to Bryant Park, a place I had been meaning to go to these last few weeks.
We sat and ate our falafels right in front of the lawn with the feel of New York all around us. And just incase we forgot where we were, the Empire State Building stood out over the rest of the buildings and reached for the sky straight ahead and above us.
The pigeons begged for food as did the beggars. The tourists took photos of each other and then themselves. The bustling business men and women scarfed down doughnuts and coffee on a table and were up and running again after only a few minutes. Groups of children from schools walked about with a few adults managing the borders of the young crowds.
And Josh and I sat and talked about New York. We talked about when we decided to come, why we decided to come, and if we wanted to stay or not. And it would be impossible to even think of leaving the city while sitting at Bryant Park on a (yes, cold) but sunny day.
We walked through a cathedral and laughed like little kids as we watched strangers dip their hands in the holy, and yet quite seemingly dirty, water. We watched people give their two dollars to light a candle, and we also watched people with baskets constantly roam around the church and successfully gather the dollar bills from the wallets of the “sinners.” I thought the beggars on the subways should go to church more often. They would find more success in the house of God.
The beauty of the painted glass windows and arched ceilings was overtaken by the amount of holes and slits that were asking for money for “All of the poor.” I wondered who all of the poor were, and I looked for a more detailed explanation…but there was none. That was it. Just money for all of the poor.
Josh and I talked about the awkward normalities of religion. I admitted I felt extremely uncomfortable when someone told me to pray for their sick friend or family member. Either they were assuming we shared the same religious practices, which most of the time we didn’t, or making me feel obligated to join into some practice that I felt no purpose or spiritual connection towards. And because I knew their friend or family member was sick, I didn’t want to say they were already making me feel uncomfortable just by asking because, well, they had bigger things to worry about. So instead I usually just nodded. I sometimes say I hope they feel better—which I always do hope…But what good does hoping do? By God, if anything, I would call their doctor and ask if there was anything else that can be done that will help the loved one progress back to health quicker…But I never tell them that although that sounds like the most helpful and comforting thing to do. As much power as I “wish” I had, I would leave the healing or success of an operation of loved ones up to the professionals.
After throwing back some religious jokes about Jesus Christ—the kind that you can’t throw with just anyone for fear of being offensive or worse yet, encouraging religious people to try and “save you”- Josh and I headed up to Central Park. We skipped through the zoo, taking the free stroll that guided us right next to the sea lions who stood proud with their whiskered noses pointed up toward the sunny sky. It was so very cold, but Josh and I refused to acknowledge the stubborn frost that wanted our attention. Instead we pointed our heads up towards the sky just like the sea lions. We laughed about their blubber, and then Josh talked about working at a zoo in England back in the day.
And it wasn’t even until we were eating at a cafe that I stopped and thought, what a wonderful life I have.
The cafe was overlooking a lake. Josh had bought a couple cups of coffee and a brownie. I had thrown my scarf on the table and started reading “The Gift of Fear,” a book Dia had sent me as a surprise. And I looked up from my book for a few moments. I watched the people chatter away. I sipped my coffee and noted the flakes of ice still present on top of the lake’s surface. I looked at Josh, typing away at “The Machine” as he called all things technology.
And suddenly, I disagreed with the old man. I said out loud, “You’re wrong. I am a considerate person.” And then I sipped a bit more of my warm coffee, smiled at an old lesbian couple who was bundling up their child for another go at the playground, and continued to read more from Gavin De Becker.