When I first moved to Manhattan and lived in a shithole on 82nd and 1st, my best friend from college moved into a 5th floor walkup about a dozen blocks north of me, so we were constantly rotating in and out of one another’s place. Andrea and I made plans to meet at my apartment one summer Sunday in 2007…when things got weird.
There was an orange rolling around on the floor of the 6 train today.
Back and forth from one end to the other, bouncing off of feet and backpacks and luggage. From 59th street to Union Square, it pinballed the length of the train car, occasionally getting stuck in a crevice for several minutes before the train’s forward movement inevitably jostled it back into action. Suspicious eyes were glued to the stealth round orb and I giggled as every single person dodged the orange like it was an explosive device or a rabid animal and not a delicious citrus treat. Grown men were actually cowering against the doors as it rolled by. People seated would lift their feet in anticipation as they warily watched it lurch towards them.
He lives in a Brooklyn brownstone and a loft in the West Village and an Upper East side studio and a public housing unit in the Bronx. God is everywhere. I see him every day, all over New York City.
An elderly woman walking on a treadmill wearing men’s baseball cleats.
A Zumba class full of Orthodox Jewish men dancing to a Pitbull track.
Two little giggling boys burst onto the F Train at 7th Avenue tonight in Brooklyn, each with one blue and one red balloon tied to their tiny wrists. They both were holding a half-eaten cookie and crumbs were all over their faces and scattered across their puffy coats. What a fun day they must’ve had! Both mothers could barely contain their sons’ exuberance as the boys fell from seat to seat to seat while the train lumbered along.
Anyone who lives in New York knows that we have to put up with people, things and situations that aren’t normal anywhere else in America. When I was 25 and broke, I learned this lesson on one sunny afternoon in one horrifying moment.
Alonzon “Mickey” Pritchard sits on the Church Avenue-bound subway stairs at the Carroll Street stop on the F/G line every evening from 6-8pm – sometimes 5:30 if he’s running early or just bored. The third to the bottom step, specifically. He’s 6-foot-3-inches tall with long, skinny legs, so the man needs ample stair space. On the bottom stair is usually a black drawstring bag, a Poland Spring water bottle with its label ripped off and most notably, piles and piles of ragged spiral notebooks. Some days Mickey is not there and immediately I worry. Is it because a police officer shooed him away? Did he get in that bicycle accident that he’s so frightened of? Is he in jail? Off to rehab? Something worse?
This is a short story about hope. It’s also a story about severe fucking embarrassment and feeling like you are, for a few fleeting hours, the most worthless human being on the planet. All thanks to the most wonderful game on Earth: basketball.
The hospice nurse fiddled with buttons on the ventilator while I scrounged the house looking for more pieces of paper. The living room of our small house in Haven, Kan., was filled with all kinds of new and foreign sounds on that autumn day when we brought my dad home from the ICU. The glug glug glug of liquid meals traveling down his feeding tube, the erratic beeping pattern of his life-support machine and the warm voices of lifelong friends became the soundtrack of our house during those five long, brief days at home.
One day last June, I stood on the train platform at Jay Street, just feeling so happy. I was talking to Cory a hundred miles an hour, barely coming up for air. We had so much meaningless news to share with each other! You know that one person that whenever you’re with him or her, you feel like you’re at home – no matter how far from your home you actually might be? That’s Cory. We met in college at the University of Kansas, dated a few years, broke up, and stayed best friends. If I live to be 100, he will still be my Emergency Contact because Cory is the world’s most reliable soul. I was grooms(wo)man at his wedding for God’s sake.