All I want from life right now is a warm night. Just one.
Where I can wear a dress with my thighs exposed, maybe a jean jacket, maybe be warm enough to take it off and drape it over my slingbag. Where I welcome the wind to my face with my eyes closed, cheeks pointing to the sky like bobbing baby fists. Where I can walk through Harlem, maybe over to the East River, and the wind there will be cooler, but not by much, and I can sit on a bench and feel the chills climb my spine as it tousles the strands of my scalp. Maybe it's about 7:38pm, and the sun is just about down, but not quite, and I can still make out Queens in a purple haze. Perhaps I imagine little Italian families preparing dinner in their heirloom apartments across the river, and then I wish I had a big plate of spaghetti.
Once on the 6 train between 33rd and 42nd streets, I peeked up from my book and saw, sitting across from me, a young timid Asian woman asking an old white man for directions to Penn Station. He told her we had just passed the stop she needed to get over there, to the West side. She had missed her chance. She looked confused and just kept repeating, "Trehn. Trehn." The man just kept shrugging and looking around helplessly. She said, "I'll just wait. I'll just stay on the trehn."
I caught the glance of a beautiful young black woman sitting next to them, with a buzzed head and a black RUN DMC t-shirt. She was eavesdropping too. She rolled her eyes and smiled and I smiled back and we both turned our attention back to the Asian woman. The man didn't know what else to say to her. He looked defeated. Then the black woman reached over the man, tapped the Asian woman on the shoulder, and said, "Just get off here at Grand Central, take the shuttle to Times Square, then take the 1 or 2 train down to Penn. You need to get to the West side." The Asian woman looked like she understood, smiled, and thanked her, clutching her little red backpack. She got off when the train stopped. The black woman looked at the silent white woman across from her and smiled. I smiled back.
Point is, I felt the warm night I wanted inside that subway car, and I carried it upstream all the way home.