My heart plummeted even further when I looked out of the train window.
Exchange Place? Damn it, I got on the wrong train.
I exhaled a short, sharp breath, already upset by the argument that had been taking place with my friend. I have never been one for discord and any sort of disagreement can overwhelm me.
Unfortunately, I was already past my breaking point. My mind that morning was full of bills to pay and juggling responsibilities, so it didn’t help my mind that this unplanned argument was taking place via text. And text arguments are the worst because there’s a coldness to them, a lack of any empathy in the words presented. I went to my normal state of anxious-yet-functioning to volatile-and-about-to-cry.
I knew I was volatile because I never mistakenly get on the wrong train. There are only two trains on the line – 33rd Street and World Trade Center. It’s not too hard to mix that up. At least I went on the train on the right side.
Calm down, calm down, calm down, I chanted to myself. I put headphones in and started to listen to the bouncy rhythms of Los Campesinos!, hoping the music would distract me from my sadness.
The train let out at World Trade Center and I started to walk to the R/W, but I couldn’t hold it in any longer. Still walking, I sobbed in the middle of the Oculus, as if I was in a soap opera. I tried stifling it, since normally I can hold back tears to a silent stream if I’m in public. It was no use. I let go. I was crying obnoxiously and there was no point to think that people hadn’t seen me.
I walked through the glass doors and up the steps to the platform. I got on the W train, thinking that maybe sitting would help relax me.
Nope, I still was ugly crying, my tears traveling from the Oculus to a subway car. At least I was able to make myself a little quieter, but it was still obvious that I was upset.
After a few stations of struggling, the car jolted to a stop at 14th Street. I looked up and a woman was offering me her tissues. I paused the music and gulped a few breaths, struggling to find my voice.
“Thank you so much,” I finally said.
“I’m so sorry sweetie,” she said, and she went back to her seat. Her eyes were a little teary herself.
She sat back down, and the man sitting next to me looked my way.
“Is there anyone I need to beat up,” he said, cracking a small smile.
I laughed between gulps.
“No, I’m good!”
“Is it a man? Oh, I’ll go after him. I’m not good for much, but I’m good for something!” he said. He looked over to the woman who gave me tissues. She was now dabbing her eyes as well.
“Are you okay??” he asked.
“Oh yes, I was just crying because she was crying!” she said, chuckling a bit.
“Seriously, I will go after him for you if you need me to,” he said to me.
“No, it’s okay, it’s just an argument with one of my girl friends. I’ll be alright though!” I said. I was smiling now and the sobs and gulps had stopped. Tears were still coming down my face, but I felt lighter.
“Okay, well, you sure you’ll be alright?” he said as he stood up and got ready to leave at the next stop. The tissue woman was getting ready to leave as well.
“I promise I will be.” I said, and this time my smile was full.
The two of them left, on their separate ways. I stayed on for the rest of the ride for my own separate way.
When I left the train, I walked out of the station with a bounce in my step. I looked up at the buildings and I put my headphones back in. I felt so connected, I felt so protected, even though I couldn’t possibly personally know everyone in this city.
God, I love New York, I thought, and I walked into work ready to start the day.