I am running—not literally—but a New York kind of run where speed walking meets furrowed brow and everyone is in my way because where I have to be is more important than anyone else. In tandem with me is an older couple trying to catch a movie. Wife doesn’t want to sit in the front so she leads the pack. Husband says he refuses to run anywhere and they will sit wherever they can find seats.
Like racehorses at a carnival game, the three of us inch forward and back, creeping along 13th Street with one in the lead then the next, weaving in and out of pedestrian traffic, yellow lights, and wayward delivery bikes donning riders without helmets.
Then, as if the world’s rotation suddenly grinds to a halt, Wife takes a stumble. It looks as if she has regained her footing but just as quickly as her balance returns, gravity pulls her to the concrete in a stumbling collapse of scarves and black silk.
We all stop. Husband. Me. Stranger waiting for table in front of overcrowded wine bar.
“I’m OK. I’m OK,” she says.
“I think you’ve cut yourself,” I respond.
“Oh, yes. I have,” she says, black silk now torn.
She is helped to her feet. There will be no movie. Maybe a trip to the emergency room for steri-strips instead. I pick up the pace and still manage to make it to the ATM and the cash-only Cambodian sandwich shop before my friend arrives. I think I will walk slower next time.
The evening ends. I say my goodbyes. I walk toward the subway at a clipped pace, eager to catch the crosstown before it stops running. A young couple walks in front of me, happy to be on the streets of Manhattan during the holidays. They don’t have anywhere to be besides where they are. I furrow my brow. I huff and zigzag around them, dashing down the staircase and slipping into the subway car just as the doors squeeze close behind me. I do not fall down. This time.
photo by KellySenn