Though it was clear our time was over – Sarah was stretched on her bed dazed by her computer – I didn’t want to leave the city yet. After hours of walking there was not much else I could physically do, and besides, I only knew how to get home from the subway nearby. Instead, I decided to take use of that book I lugged around all day. Three blocks over I found a coffee shop, Think Coffee, and pushed my way in, delighted in all things new. I ordered a coffee, stared a lot and – joy of joys! – found a small table tucked in a corner, secluded. It was just how you’d imagine an afternoon in a New York City coffee shop would look like and I was thrilled. Wood tables and floor. Conversation. The Times left sprawled on the table next to me, one I surreptitiously took. I read for at least two hours, before I realized exhaustion and sweat were forcing me to head home. Leaving the shop overjoyed by the day, by all I had accomplished, by how New York my New York experience was, I looked both ways on the sidewalk adjusting to life outside.
Someone was screaming, but no one else must have heard him. I found the source. He was large, standing in the middle of the road and threatening. I looked both ways again, worried about the traffic but there were no cars coming toward him, yet. On the ground at his feet a man laid like a turtle on his back, legs and arms slightly raised, protective, prone. It was a movie, it must be a set, no one was paying any attention, a car could come so quickly. The man walked off, not before once again proving his strength, and the turtle stood up slowly, hugging his body together and shuffling across the rest of the street, the opposite direction. “What happened?” I asked him. “Why did he do that? Are you okay? Do you need something?” But I didn’t. Instead I approached him, shoving a bag of pretzels in his hands. “Here,” I said, terrified he wouldn’t take it. “The water is opened, but I only drank a little.” He took it and walked away, and so did I. There was nothing else, no one else hurt, no one inconvenienced, and no cars came.
I rode the subway the 35 minutes back to White Plains with curiously few thoughts about my first day in the city.