At 5:30am on the L train, there’s people trying to fight heavy eyes with arms crossed and hoping the next stop would be their own. Some are just lucky enough to even make it home. I close my eyes and lean my head towards the metal bar and next thing I know, it’s 6am and this voice in my head tells me it’s time to leave. “This is 14th street, Union Square,” she says. I wake up to a man staring me down and he averts his eyes when I give him a glare.
I get up along with half the passengers on the train and we are all walking towards the nearest Exit sign. Men in suits stride a little faster than the rest, and there are some holding on to luggage and heavy bags for dear life. At this point, everything is almost robotic. You can tell a real New Yorker from a visitor by the way their legs take them to places they’re meant to be, and if they’re lingering around the subway trying to figure out the map and asking the grumpy old lady if this train leads them to Brooklyn Bridge, then you can probably assume they’re not from here.
I make my way towards the 4 train and get off at Grand Central Station. Even at this time of day, the city is already busy and full of life. A man misses his train and curses under his breath and tries to argue with his partner that they could have made it if she … I walk faster, trying not to listen in on a lover’s quarrel.
I’m standing in the middle of the Grand Concourse waiting for someone to arrive, and each stranger that passes by me has a look as if he/she is running out of time. Funny, since the big clock behind me says it’s only 7:05am, a little too early to be chasing after time and yet people just never have enough of it. Always running after trains, always running after meetings and catching up on scheduled deadlines, this is what it feels like to be a New Yorker. The rush, the hustle and bustle, with hands always attached to their mobile devices and headphones on just to be extra sure no one bothers. They only look up when they’re about to run into someone or something, only look up trying to search for the way out or the person they’re meeting.
Someone calls out my name, and I look up.
“You and I were obscure thoughts,
lingering between unspoken words.
These days, I spend most of my time
accepting my faults, and wandering.
Tossing, and turning, wondering
how much things have changed, how
easy it was for someone I’ve spent
so much investment and trust in,
to turn their back against me during
times when I needed it most.
I’ve traced in every corner, pieces of myself
I’ve let crawl out from under my skin
begging for answers from someone
who chooses silence instead of
an explanation, or an apology.
No words, no acknowledgement.
As if I no longer held importance,
as if the time we’ve spent building
what I thought was something
crumble down to dust,
how I needn’t deserve to be told
the reason why I was no longer enough.”
“It’s a shame, how often you lose people in life.”
“I used to fight for people, now I just retract.”
It was sometime in early March, when the remnants of a wintery sky remained unpolished by the coming of Spring. You asked me what it was like to have met him, and I merely composed myself, trying to come up with the right words to describe our first encounter.
"He was like a breath of fresh air," was my response.
And you smiled, and asked how it could be so. I needn’t exaggerate the night as we walked under the starry New York City lights, or the way we laughed as I tripped over invisible hazard. How he held the door while I encouraged him a taste of foreign cuisine, and how even through the laughter and the open conversation thrown up in the air about life, family, and love, he simply listened. As I did, despite holding back the private personal fragments of the past, how we stood and sat and ran up against the old and new places we abandoned through our youth. How he pointed to the skyline, and motioned towards the infinity of the future. How he could so easily hold it within his reach. How I saw in him, someone I could possibly repeat moments of everyday with.
“So what happened?” you asked.
I needn’t answer in literates. I turned to look through the window and spoke what my heart believed to be true of what ended a memory I still hold to be dear.
"I had to go home, and so did he."
“Throughout the course of the time you spend wanting more from someone who barely gives you enough, remember this: If they really saw your worth, they’d have shown you long ago.”
I received a letter from someone today, while checking through a pile of mail. Reading it really made me feel like I was significant, considering I must have ran through his mind for him to take the time out of his busy schedule to write me something on pen and paper. It’s so hard to find people these days who ever take the time, and I really appreciated that.
Time, I learned, is something we have a lot less as the years pass.
I almost teared while reading it, really. Mostly because he ended it reassuring me of my worth. As if he knew it was the kind I needed all along. "I feel like you could use something a little more solid and tangible these days. This is just a reminder that I am here for you whenever you need a friend to wind down with, cry to, vent to, and talk with. Stay happy, my friend.”
And I am so so thankful for you.
Chivalry is so rare, that I always appreciate it when I see it.
“To offer someone your forever is such a vacant promise.”