Don’t we learn? Don’t we wake up at some point? Don’t we stop the situation in the moment, and like that special effects found in movies, clap our hands and say, “Stop!” and the whole scene is frozen in front of us until we take a breath, gather ourselves and suss out the situation before acting on a reaction. Right? Something like that.
Who: Him & Her
City: New York, NY
They look so good together. They are both aware of how her bodies fits perfectly into his; her calf tied around his ankle, her arm under his, her head on his shoulder, hand in hand. He reciprocates, warmly, and then he or she remove themselves from the huddle, delicately. They talk and laugh and seem so familiar with each other. That’s the hardest part. At intermission, she massages his head, her fingers gripping bunches of his hair and squeezing them. He gives off a relaxed yet pleasurable moan. Not too much to give away the subtle, subtle message, “I like this now but it doesn’t mean anything for later.” She reciprocates this unanimous and invisible handshake of, “I get it.” And yet, an outsider needs a microscope to see these tiniest of subtleties. A blink and you miss it.
He owns an eco-friendly kind of taxi; they’re becoming popular these days. The A/C is on but not blasting at us, just enough to cool the beads of sweat on my forehead, nose, chin. A moment later, I notice beads slipping down my forearms as well. I let them. The music hits me like a ton of bricks. Bill Wither’s “Lovely Day”. I can’t help myself, “I love this song,” I explode at him. “Oh, yes, it’s a favorite for many,” he says from over his shoulder.
When I wake up in the morning, love…
Ingris and I are new neighbors. I met her a couple of hours ago but we bump into each other again; this time, she is with groceries bags. I get to meet happy-go-lucky, Evan, her 8 year old son, who is utterly adorable, and just naturally happy. Ingris seems rather content herself, even though she lives in a garden studio along side me. Not just lives here, she actually grew up in this building, and in that same studio. This concept blows my mind every time I meet people actually born and raised in New York, but, anyway. “Yeah, there were four of us in Evan’s room,” she chuckles to herself. “Back then, it was doable.”
“Lots and lots and lots and lots of money,” the doctor reveals to me. But that’s later. Jim comes into the space loud. He’s a small guy, gray frazzled hair, and vocal chords that can fill an arena. And it’s one of those annoying voices. I try to temper him by making my welcome sincere yet short. More than anything he looks lost. He stumbles into the space like he hasn’t been here since “the changes,” and I say this in quotes because I don’t think the clinic’s been redecorated since the doctor moved in 30 years ago. Jim’s appointment is at 2pm but he’s shown up a couple of hours early to wait for a chat with the doctor.
Wednesday night in the Emergency Room is bustling. It’s pouring rain outside. I think that explains some of the craziness in the waiting room. All sorts of ailments surround me, some visible, some not. For a few minutes, I sit next to Sandra De La Rosa, who barely speaks English. One of the male nurses keeps repeating to her in Spanish, “Are you sure who have no ID?” She nods. “Nothin’? You got nothin’?” She nods again. He leaves. Sandra starts to silently cry. When I finally notice, without thinking twice about it, I reach over and rub her back a little. I don’t know her at all. She looks at me and says with such heart-felt earnestness, “Gracias.” She makes me want to cry.
Mario didn’t show up for work today. Tuesday’s and Friday’s are his days, and we usually spent four or five hours together. Mario is quiet, an excellent worker and from Peru. He calls me, “Sinorita,” and my response to him every time is, “Mi nombre es Liza, no sinorita, por favor!” I tease him and his reaction is always one of an embarrassed schoolboy. He’s about 10 years older than me too. It was the first time since I started at this job that he didn’t show. The doctor asked that I call him to find out when he would be coming in, if at all. The doctor didn’t look at all upset, which perplexed me. And he has one of those personalities that, I can bet my life, he would be upset at this moment. So, why not?