By: Gabriela Yareliz
Sometimes, it is not faster to travel on the train. There are places where the train simply doesn’t go. It goes in circles but doesn’t cross through the circle. The inside of the Brooklyn circle requires walking.
I was standing on the platform waiting for the ‘C’ train, but there were delays. The ‘A’ kept coming, and nothing on the local tracks. I was sweating bullets; my raincoat sticking to me.
Due to the train delays and the fact that I was going to the inside of the circle, I decided to walk to my next destination. I walked along the streets, finding that places I had seen from a passenger seat of a car looked different up close, with me on the sidewalk. When I felt a pedestrian sharing the way was coming closely behind me or invading personal space (as is custom in NYC due to the volume of people and uneven walkways), my fingers would curl around the vial of pepper spray in my pocket, I was ready for anything.
On this particular day, it was raining. The leaves glowed yellow and the lamp posts on the parkway were lit. I saw an elegant elderly black couple walking toward me, under their umbrella saying inaudible things to each other, and I relaxed into my walking cadence. I quickly turned to see if anyone was behind me, and no. No one.
I passed a portable restroom (port o potty) that was probably jacked from an actual construction site. It was chained to a tree. I was intrigued and celebrated the notion of a public restroom for passerbys but there was no way I would approach it. Maybe it was a hiding place for drugs. Maybe, someone lived in there. I scurried forward in the downpour.
I saw the makeshift vendor market under the tents and realized I had arrived faster than anticipated to the area to which I was headed. I was hungry and tired of holding my umbrella. My allergies had made it so that I could barely open my eyes. I wanted to sit, and be left alone. I wanted to sneeze without judgment.
I opened my phone and looked for anything open. Everything looked closed. There was a “Pretty Girl” shop that sold cheap dollar garments. There was a group of men loudly chatting in front of it. I wondered who thought these garments were adequeate and not a waste of precious dollars. Cheap clothes, in the end, is always expensive.
I balanced my umbrella against my chest and discretely searched on my phone any local food place that might be open. The night was falling on the area, and it was dark. I stood under a wig store awning that sold colorful wigs and also leotards that looked fit for a stripper. Nothing was open except a small cafe down the way. I walked up to an intersection where the rain had gathered into a lake. Luckily, I had my rain boots because there was no way around this moat. I stepped right in.
I continued to walk. I passed a young man in a black hoodie. In his hand was an orange arrow (yes, like from an archery set). He was walking like he was on a mission with that arrow. I was confused and decided to ignore him. I continued to walk the blocks wondering how much farther I would need to go. I passed delis and random smoke shops.
Finally, a bright light. I saw a Haitian flag and heard the loud music. I heard a young woman inside yell, “Alexa, play Chris Brown radio.” The speaker started playing Chris Brown, and the woman behind the counter hollered, “Oh yes, where did he go?” The song was familiar. It reminded me of high school, sitting in my best friend’s car with her iPod plugged in.
I ordered a crepe and sat at the counter stools where there was a window. I watched the outdoor dining drown in the nonstop rain. A Grubhub sign fell over, and I leaned down to pick it up. As I looked up, I saw some feet dancing. My eyes continued to follow this dancing body, when I realized it was the young man in the black hoodie. He was doing some kind of cool dance to the Chris Brown song. In his hand was the orange arrow. He did a little show and continued to dance in the doorway. The employees behind the counter cheered.
I headed back to the window stools where I was invisible. I was exhausted. Behind me was a fridge full of strawberries. I sat there in the nostalgic music, rain coming down, and I felt like I was in a daze. I smiled as the young man finished his dance, and he walked out into the rain, made a right turn and then faded into the dark of the night with the bright arrow clutched in his right hand.
[A New York City vignette.]