The little girl, with low pigtails held in place by pink ponytail holders and wearing a pink puffy coat that goes down to her knees, gently shuffles along the edge of the park road. In her blue mittened hands she carries a jagged ball of snow bigger than her head. She is concentrating so hard on this ball of snow and making sure she doesn’t drop it, she doesn’t notice that her mother has gotten far ahead of her and is slightly startled when her mother calls her name from across the street. The mother continues to walk, slowly, towards the snowy meadow pulling a sled along behind her and checking over her shoulder to check on her child. The girl carefully crosses the road and trudges after her mother, still ever so careful with the ball of snow in her hands that is to be her snow persons head. She had spotted the ball just laying by the sidewalk on the way to the meadow in the park, and she knew this was the head of her soon to be created snow person. Her mother had suggested they carry it in the sled, but the little girl didn’t want that. The ride would be bumpy and rough and the head might not make it. She had to do this herself, and bring the head carefully and lovingly to its proper place.
The woman sat on the bench, two pages from the New York Times open on her lap. A few strands of grey hair fell out of the low ponytail, framing her tan, aged face. She wears a black leather fanny pack around her waist. She is mostly uninteresting. Most people walk by her without registering her presence. She continues to read her newspaper. She turns the page over and she lets out a barely audible gasp and freezes briefly. She holds the newspaper closer to her face in order to better absorb the article. She traces the faces of the people in the picture just above the article. She traces the faces of the people in the picture just above the article, sets the paper down on her lap and stares blankly ahead, lost in her thoughts. She picks up the corner and starts to tear out the article. The edges are rough, parts of other articles being torn into in order to free this one. She gets it out, hold it up, and stares at it, like it’s her most prized possession. She gently folds the article and places it in her coat pocket. She continues to read the newspaper, now with a gap.
You probably wouldn’t notice from the outside. But if you paid close enough attention to how she walks a tad slower than everyone else, takes the stairs with a gentle caution, and slightly sways as she stands still, you might.
She hasn’t eaten anything substantial in 3 weeks. Never going a day where she consumed more than 400 calories. Typically it’s only around 200.
It’s a choice. At this point it’s become more of a habit than anything else. She feels the control starting to slip away. She feels the thoughts starting to emerge without her permission. Now instead of choosing no carbs or only veggies, she feels repulsed whenever she sees any offending food. It’s been 3 weeks. She feels weak, faint, woozy. Like at any moment she could pass out. But she’s too far down this road, she can’t give in until she meets the goal. She would feel like even more of a failure than she already is, even more useless. She constantly feels the pang of hunger. The main hunger pains are gone, and have been for a week or so, but now there is a constant low hum, a constant reminder of what she is doing, and what she can’t escape. At least not yet.
The woman sits in the blue subway bench. She is wearing a red winter cap and a kind, loving smile. This smile is genuine. It’s not fake or rehearsed or photogenic, the smiles that everyone else gives out of obligation. No, she means her smiles. They have purpose. She is truly pleased when a little boy sits on her right with his parents. He reminds her of her grandson. In her left sits a man. They are strangers. He is classy and very uptown New York. He wears a big white and tan fur coat. His hair is curly, but short and gelled close to his head in a very fashionable way. He pulls his hand out of his coat pocket and several folded papers fall onto the floor. The woman immediately reaches down to help him collect them. The man gives that obligatory thanks and smile. The woman looks into his eyes and gives her genuine smile. The man can see the light in her eyes, and that she truly means it. Her light spreads to him and his smile changes, ever so slightly. He gets off at the next stop, still thinking about the rare genuine woman.
I don’t have words. Usually I have words. Even now trying to articulate this I can’t do it correctly. Sentences scratched out, words written over each other. I can’t draw, but I can write. I can tell stories. But today I can’t. I want to, I have the inspiration and a story to tell, but the words just won’t come. It’s frustrating. Unbelievably so. I can’t connect even in the limited way I usually know how. I have no words.
She has this unwavering faith in the kindness of strangers. She knows exactly how much to expect of someone to push them to be better without pushing too far. She is not nieve or ignorant, she simply chooses not to give up. She calls people out from a place of love. She truly cares and that’s why she’s yelling. She is witty and intelligent and can spar with the best of them. She is living her life with no regrets, fully aware of the mistakes she’s made and owning them, using them to propel her forward instead of letting them pull her back. She rides the winds of life actively letting them take her to where she needs to be and beyond. She may not know exactly what she wants, but she doesn’t let that halt her journey. She is leisurely striding with full confidence down the path of life and pausing to smell the roses. She is here for the fun of the journey, knowing wherever she ends up that she fully enjoyed the ride. She is the strongest cup of coffee with a splash of sweet cream. She is the breath of fresh air after you’ve been underwater just a touch too long. She is the cool summer breeze that gives you goose bumps. She is the pastel chalk flowing smoothly effortlessly into the sidewalk, creating sharp saturated lines.
The man sits on the seat inside the subway car. His fingers are laced together as he fiddles with a scrunched up napkin in his palms, swirling his thumbs around and around the brown tattered napkin, sporadically. He wears a heavy black coat that puffs out in the front as he sits. Around his neck is an old, tattered, dirty white scarf. One end is looped around his neck and sticking out onto his shoulder. The other end hangs down to his waist. Over his head he pulls the hood of a blue hoodie, which is under his black coat, hiding his glasses and nose. The top of the hood points up, like a gnome hat. All anyone can see sticking out of the shadows of this hood is a scruffy grey mustache, weathered cheeks, and a mouth that in its resting position is the perfect frown. His hands are wrinkled and weathered, but strong,. He works hard. He keeps to himself. But when his eyes peek out from under the hood, they are kind and gentle, partially hidden behind the glare on his glasses. The subway car fills up more and more at each stop, and the man just sits, swirls his napkin, and silently observes the chaos around him.
The man paces on the other side of the subway tracks just before entering the turn-still. His face is confused. He jogs to the map on his right. He looks across the tracks. He looks up at the sign. He grabs the gate, pushing his face through the bars, and yells at the group of four
DOES THAT TRAIN GO TO MANHATTAN?
One of the four, in his black peacoat because he wanted to wear it despite it not yet being quite cold enough for it, yells back
YEAH MAN, IT DOES.
The man on the other side, in a large tan coat that goes down to his knees, gives an excited whoop.
GREAT, I’LL BE RIGHT OVER
He races up the stairs behind him hollering
His voice is heard from below ground as he races across the street above. Then there are several short loud gasps, but he does not appear at the bottom of the steps. The four exchange bemused glances and jokes. The man in the tan coat jumps out from the stairwell, races through the turn-still, and joins the group of four. He does a GOAL stance and exclaims
YEAH! I MADE IT! HIGH FIVES ALL AROUND!
He high fives the group, and several other weary watchers. HE stands by the tracks. Waiting. The train does not come. Waiting. Suddenly his entire night has been futile.
The girl sends the message. On the surface she is discussing books vs. their movies. But this is just words. They mean nothing. We have so much in common! One text really says. Omg we are so alike! We are like the same person! This girl, who spent most of her life never truly connecting to anyone has met her duplicate. They don’t agree on everything and they like different things, but their thought processes are incredibly similar, around the 95% zone. One look and one knows how the other will react. This is an amazing comfort. She is not truly alone. Yet at the same time it is incredibly innerving. Maybe she is wrong. Maybe she doesn’t know this other person that well. She is terrified that one day the other girl will scream
YOU THINK YOU KNOW ME BUT YOU DON’T
She can never be sure. She cautions herself against assumin she knows the other girl. Yet her texts scream
ACKNOWLEDGE HOW SIMILAR WE ARE
AGREE WITH ME