Bits of Information

She was sitting on the subway as closed up as she could be. Her wrinkled face sat behind sunglasses that I never feel necessary to wear in the tunnels. She had her small bag in her lap and didn’t even look up to see the droves of people walk in to the subway car. I stood over her feeling very tall and large in her presence, and yet humbled by her age. I wondered where she was going. It was incredibly crowded so I didn’t pull out my book or look at my phone for fear of falling over onto 5 other people. When my stop came I bent over and grabbed my purple back pack I had laid at my feet. As I bent over I felt keenly aware of how close I was to her, as if all I had to do was purse my lips and I could have kissed her brown forehead. I chanced a glance at her eyes to see if she noticed that in the bustle of the morning human traffic she would notice if a white girl in a bright orange shirt was hovering over her head. I couldn’t see her eyes behind her sunglasses, but detected the smallest smile. I smiled back and hurried off the train.

“Hi. I want a tall mocha frappuccino with whipped cream.” I looked at the girl with long brown locks, her thick eyebrows raised in a slight smirk that a New York morning could put on anyone’s face, especially after waiting in line at a Starbucks for an over-priced sugary drink that was probably her breakfast. Her mid-drift exposed under a floral shirt I had seen on sale at an American Apparel I watched as she shifted her weight back and forth on her pedicured feet as she casually checked her iPhone while waiting for her drink. She walked out without a second glance.

“So, you’re telling me that what she is doing is a good thing?! That you support what she’s doing? Tell me right now. No. You tell me right now that you think what she’s doing in there right now is OK with you!” The couple was standing by the side door of the church on the corner of my block. She looked baffled and flustered, her bright yellow shirt and shorts making her blushing face stand out even more. I rubber-necked as I walked past, not even bothering to conceal my irritation at the scene that was unfolding on the street. The guy was holding the side door open as if ready to run down the steps and stop whatever was going on downstairs, but that all that was holding him back was the minute or two of argument that needed to happen. I made a face to myself knowing that whatever was going on wasn’t my business, yet feeling involved despite myself because of the raised voices. He continued to raise his voice in what sounded like a pounding of words attacking the woman with self-doubt and helplessness, like a kid that didn’t get his way and therefore decided to yell at the babysitter over a small injustice.

These moments in time throughout my day are moments I recognize and can process within a couple seconds: I don’t need to translate them, I don’t need to photograph them, in fact as they happen I try to record them and use them later for an improv scene or a sketch or a blog post. I love how this city can provide material even when my head feels empty of anything original.

June 28, 2012 at 2:28 pm by Natalie Allen