Posted: December 9, 2009 -
Just when you think you've got New York figured out she reveals another face to you.
Some days she is like a pre-menstrual woman denied chocolate. Others she behaves like the exciting but slightly unhinged friend who makes you feel that fun is always around the corner.
The weekend before Thanksgiving and The Teenager and I travel out to pick up The Boy from JFK on a packed E train. We sigh, irritated at the lack of seats and contemplate the 40 minute journey standing up. I scan the train carriage from behind the security of my sunglasses for anything interesting to occupy my line of sight. The Teenager is stood next to me pouting in that self aware way she does, easily managing to pull off a sort of casual Brazilian-model-going-to-a-casting look. Her effort for The Boy reunion is clear; her caramel features are highlighted in peachy tints and her tiny black skirt with flat brogues is catching the eyes of both the pervs and the fashion forward. She looks so pretty, I feel a rush of love and pride.
"What the hell you staring at?" she snaps.
I take off my glasses and reset my gaze to the middle distance. I am careful not to make eye contact with any weirdos or homeless beggars. I read an advert about becoming a nursing professional six times over. I daydream about what it would be like to afford to take taxis everywhere or have a driver ferry me around in a blacked out sedan.
Then the train stops and two old ladies get into the carriage. Something about them looks not quite right and then I see their blackened eyes and their guide dogs. Everyone jumps to help them, a scary looking man in baggy sportswear, a butch woman, a snooty looking fashionista. I watch as the group of good Samaritans give them their arms, give up their seats and check where the ladies are both going, so they can tell them get off at the right stop.
Blind and on a subway train. It's doesn't get more ballsy that that. Humbled doesn't even sum it up. I whinge and moan about public transport with my two good eyes and my perfectly functioning body. These woman are more than twice my age and can't see. These women would have more right than most to take taxis everywhere or have a driver ferry them around, that would be justifiable practicality, not selfish luxury. Yet they choose to ride the subway, to put their trust in others, in New Yorkers. To let the city offer them a helping hand.
I start to tear up and even The Teenager understands. And she doesn't take the piss.
When things are not going so good and New York and I are both pre-menstrual bitches together I am going to summon up the two blind grandmas to give me some perspective. They will remind me that bravery is an everyday thing and how even a city like New York can be human too.
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