I sat at the 72nd Street subway station and cried. A wrinkled black woman with too many shopping bags stopped to hand me a tissue. I took it and tried to smile. I wondered, if you had been there, and seen me as nothing more than a stranger, would you have gotten involved? Would you have mentioned The Spanish Inquisition or taken a chance by wiping a tear from my cheek with your finger? Would you have offered me you?
I imagined you were there with me, passing over my head, a kiss and a breath in my hair. I imagined your walk, with your fisted hands deep in your brown leather pockets, slipping out from the local train, looking at the platform, for me. I imagine you here now, with me in the subway car, how you would touch me and hold me as if I were a pole in the center of the train, there to keep you steady. You didn’t worry about losing your footing when you were with me. “You can always spot a wealthy person on a train. They don’t know how to stand,” I was once told. “They aren’t used to the stops and the turbulence…to abrupt.” I was wealthy because I had you to hold.
I waited on the information line at Penn Station, asking for the track number for the train to Huntington. I’d missed the Great Neck train by two minutes, so now, instead, I’m on the same line you were, out to Syosset. “Wait for the track number. It will be posted on the board.” The guy behind the glass told me through the microphone speaker, just as he had the last time, when I insisted there was a shortcut to the answer.
I always grieve on trains.
The next time I see anyone cry, I will sit beside them, and I will reach out to wipe their tear with my bare hand. I will get involved.