“My heart skipped a beat when I saw her through the tracks”
I was standing on the Union Square station platform. My heart skipped a beat when I saw her on the other side of the tracks: my ex-girlfriend from college. We had bitterly broken up several years earlier because I wanted to move to New York.
I shouted through the rails to get his attention.
“Who are you?” she replied.
I screamed my name and she stared at me.
“What are you doing in my town? I asked.
“It’s also my city!” she screamed.
Trains passed between us and we never saw each other again.
Walk through the city
I knew it was going to be a tough week. To calm my nerves before I get to my office, my book, and my endless writing appointment with my thesis, I decided to walk across town from my house and then to Columbia on Monday morning. .
I left the apartment feeling nervous and depressed. I looked at the sidewalk as I walked. But as I expected, the crisp air and bright sunshine of that fall day helped ease my burden. Before long, I had looked up.
I noticed a doorman on the north side of East 96th Street ahead of me. It was quite early and he was hosing down the sidewalk in front of his apartment building before residents started rushing to work, school and other obligations.
When he saw me approaching, he redirected the hose from the sidewalk to the street so I could pass without getting wet, then turned it off.
Once I passed, he quickly turned it back on full blast and hurled the jet over moving traffic toward the sidewalk on the south side of the street. I joined him in watching the water rise and fall.
A doorman standing in front of the building on the south side of the street jumped up quickly as if to dodge the unexpected downpour.
“Don’t worry,” said my water thrower Dennis the Menace. “We are good friends.”
It was 1995, and I was about to leave town to move to Paris and get married. I loved Paris, but I knew that I would miss New York terribly.
I decided to have one last coffee at a cafe in the East Village. As I did, a very tall man wearing a poodle skirt and pink kitten heels and holding a small blue suitcase walked past.
I’m leaving this town, he said angrily.
Me too, I thought sadly. Me too.
One summer evening, when you could gratefully feel the mercury dropping down the thermometer, I spotted a well-dressed man and woman holding hands half a block ahead of me on my walk through Greenwich Village.
There were lots of reds and yellows in the pattern of her long cotton skirt, and lots of black in her suit and wide-brimmed hat.
As I was trying to figure out where they were going – a nightclub, maybe, or a concert I didn’t know about – we came across a very popular and crowded Mexican restaurant.
A line of customers snaked down the sidewalk and music blared from two large speakers on either side of the storefront.
The well-dressed couple stopped walking and faced each other, still holding hands. They were discussing something, probably whether to bring food.
At that moment, they gave each other a sweet, gentle kiss. He remained motionless, facing her. She stepped back, gave him a small bow and launched into a beautiful dance. Then she took his hand and he began to dance too, just as beautifully.
I stood there admiring them. Everyone in line to order food also admired them. When the music stopped, the couple stopped too.
Everyone in line started clapping. Me too. The couple took a quick but ornate curtsey, kissed each other softly again, and joined the line to order food. I continued my walk.
— Doug Sylver
As I left my school on the Upper East Side on a pleasant fall day, I saw a woman staring intently at something in a nearby flower bed.
“There’s a perfectly good honeydew melon in there,” she said.
She wanted to retrieve it but found it hard to bend down to grab it.
I approached, examined the object closely and realized that it was not a melon but a foam rubber ball. I picked it up and explained to the woman that it was a ball, not honeydew.
Rather than thank me, she snatched the ball from me and said she had to give it to her son’s school. Clutching her new treasure in her arms, she headed for Park Avenue.
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Illustrations by Agnes Lee