The rain will continue through the night, but my journey home, my second try—the consequence of misplaced keys, a rarity in my recent experience—has come to an end. On weekends the subways break all their rules: sometimes you have to go uptown to catch a downtown train that stops at your station.
That’s what I had to do—twice. I had to ride to Union Square and catch a 6 train back to Bleecker Street. The hour was late, I was hungry, and the cat had not been fed since the early morning. The first time I reached my door, I heard her cry as I rifled through my bag for keys that weren’t there. I left the bag and headed back to the downtown train to retrieve the keys.
As I awaited the 6 train with keys securely in hand, I saw a young couple kissing, embracing, expressing the coming Saturday night softness and tenderness. And across the tracks, on the other side of the station, a young man played a guitar, singing a song I’d not heard.
I couldn’t make out the lyrics, but the sweetness of his voice and the sound of the music just made me stop and listen. The indicator showed that my train was a mere 2 minutes away. I lost the urgency to get home, dropped my irritation, and just savored the young man’s performance.
I looked back at that 2 minute warning, felt an impulse rise inside me, and I walked back up the stairs and crossed over to the uptown side of the station where the young man sat with his guitar. And there I stopped to listen for a minute or so, right next to him.
After he finished the song, I asked him if he’d written it. He hadn’t, he said. He looked puzzled when he said he didn’t know who had. I told him that he’d got to me anyway. He smiled. And I left a five in his box.
The 6 train had landed in the station. The doors were about to close. I walked up the stairs and back down again to the downtown side. The doors were closed. Suddenly, they opened again and stayed open long enough for me to get on.
And this I know as well as any dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker: subway trains do not tarry in the stations.
I thank God for that young man’s talent, the beauty of his voice, that seemingly illogical impulse I felt, the rainy night, the misplaced keys, the whole big messy deal that living in the crazy city can be.
I ♥ NY