24 Apr 2011 1 Comment
NEW YORK LOVE STORY
Translated by Hà Kin and Curtis Norris
I had never felt this impatient before in my life! I became so anxious waiting for the red bus, that I finally decided to walk to the subway station myself, even though it was quite far. I walked quickly, like someone was after me. I wanted to go as fast as I could because I was worried the card would be taken by somebody, or be swept away, or just… lost. My face was red from the chilly wind and my unstable mood that had swung in so many directions in such a short time.
The wind was strong and pushed against me with stinging darts of snow. It was so strong I felt it could blow me into the freezing water surrounding the island on which I was trapped. I started to have a terrible headache, and I thought to myself, what was making me so miserable? I had never been this miserable in my life. Was it this damn cold, or my stupid absent-mindedness? But I knew the truth was that I was so miserable because of a man.
The anger I felt was all toward myself. How many times had I been so absent-minded? I remember when I first came to New York. All I had in the world was one hundred dollars to make it for a whole year, but the first time I was down on the street I lost it! It was still painful to think about.
Finally, I got to the station and calmed down. I thought, if I never have a chance to meet him again I will accept it. Anyway, we had a great moment, one that not everyone has a chance to have even once. I moved to the side of the platform, waiting for the train calmly. I was no longer in a rush for anything. Still, there was a current of excitement underneath, still some impatience to get to the pizza store and find out if the card was still there.
The train arrived empty, and it gave me an empty, hopeless feeling also. It was two or three in the afternoon. The passengers getting on the train were tired and sleepy, cold faced and without energy. When I stepped into the train, some Hispanic guys were glancing at me and they spoke something in Spanish, which made me feel insecure.
The pizza shop was two bus stops away from the subway stop where I got off. Again, I was so impatient that I decided not to wait for the bus and walked the six blocks instead. I was still feeling mad at myself, and the horrible weather. I started to feel I was wasting my time. If I dropped the card at the pizza shop it could still be there, but if I dropped it on the bus or on the street – it was hopeless!
When I reached the shop I took a deep breath and started my search in the dirty snow outside. Can you imagine? With the snow and the rain, even if the card were still there, it must be a very dirty color by now, and may be ruined. There was a lot of dirty, white paper in front of the shop. I put my hope in each one.
The shop-keeper saw me. “You back for another pizza, girl?”
I nodded and scratched my ear, smiled, rolled my eyes. “Nope, just looking for something I dropped.”
“You’ve lost something? Your earring? Money? Jewelry? Ha ha! You want my help? Aren’t you cold?”
Damn it, I was so impatient and he was standing there talking like a mad man, laughing and showing all of his teeth. I had to stop myself from climbing up his body and giving him a punch in the face. My headache turned bad because of his insincerity and vulgar voice. Well, that was how I felt at the time, anyhow. Actually he was not that bad. He was a lovely man, I suppose.
But, damn, I found nothing! Just a bunch of dirty paper and a pizza guy standing and talking like a crazy person. I couldn’t understand how he didn’t seem affected by the terrible weather. He kept running in and out of the shop wearing nothing but a T shirt and an apron, constantly checking on what I was doing, crawling around on the ground without knowing what I was searching for. Whenever he found something that “looked good” such as a dirty black string, he would show it to me and ask, “This one?”
I was totally powerless. Despite the cold and dirt I sat down on the ground with a sad and uncomfortable face. My hands were totally freezing. The pizza guy came out again and screamed when he saw me sitting there.
“Oh, my god, what’s wrong with you? Oh no!”
“Nothing,” I said, not caring.
“Stand up! Hey stand up! Come inside!”
“No, no, no…” I only wanted to cry. I felt totally desperate.
“Stand up, girl,” he said. “Listen, you are covering up the daily specials.”
I thought he was worried about me, but it turned out he was worried because I was covering up his sign. How embarrassing! I stood up, brushed the dirt off my butt and buttoned up my jacket. I gave a little kick to nothing at all and broke out into an enigmatic smile. Ok, I thought, go home. It is finished. Everything is finished. This is how I am punished for being an absent-minded, stupid girl.
Now there was no need for impatience or for walking. I was exhausted and could not fight against the wind anymore. I went to the bus station and waited there, still idly looking at the ground for anything white, or even dirty. Nothing.
I got on the bus to the subway. I felt empty and resigned. If he does not have a contact from me, will he miss me, look for me? Of course he would, right? He would miss me! He would have regrets! I had a strong belief that we were meant for each other and we would have a chance to see each other again. We were meant for each other, for sure!
When I got home I started to pay for my madness. I had caught a cold with a fever that grew hotter and hotter. I lied down on the bed, my face flashing between pale and red, waiting for my mother to come home to give me medicine. I always feel desperate when I am sick. Or, perhaps, I always get sick when I am desperate?
But that hundred degree fever had awoken in my desperate dreams a miracle reminder.