The computerized voice boomed crystal clear over the speakers,
This is the uptown Number 2 train 42nd street, next stop 72nd street. Stand clear of the closing doors.
Another part of old New York City gone, I thought, the subway conductor’s indecipherable voice.
On most nights, my commute is like a Beats headphone commercial. You know, the one where the athlete puts on the headphones and shuts out everything in the world around them. I want to close my eyes, turn up the music and pretend I am anywhere but where I am at that moment. But this Friday evening, as I stood in my favorite spot, in front of the car back against the forward-facing door, I decided to amuse myself and pass the time by observing my fellow uptown number 2 commuters. This spot is perfect as it affords me a vantage point of the entire car and its occupants. Tonight’s crowd included the usual suspects. The businessmen in their expensive suits boasting to each other about the big deal they just closed or bitching about the big deal that got away. Funny how every time one got away, it was never their fault but the fault of some co-worker’s incompetence, or at least that how they told it. There was the blue-collar crowd fresh off another exhausting 12-hour shift. Happy to be going home yet too tired to show it. And, of course, there were the millennials. Happily texting on their smartphones, joking and laughing with each other, and telling each other how they think they’re going to quit their job because they have been there three months already, and they don’t believe they are making an impact that can change the world. I thought this is New York, and we all probably need some therapy, but this group, the millennials, were perhaps in need of more therapy than anyone else. All in all, it was just your usual cast of characters on a Friday night uptown number 2.
Then I spied them, the couple sitting in the middle of the car. She had long straight hair with several colors and was dressed in an ankle-length tie-dye skirt and a tan tee-shirt with sunflowers. Her wrist was adorned with several bracelets that went halfway up her arm. She appeared to be in her mid-40s, and upon closer inspection, it was evident to whoever bothered to look she was very striking. He was sporting a scruffy looking beard and wearing glasses, blue jeans, and a long-sleeve pullover shirt. His attire was not nearly as eccentric as hers except for his straight out of the 80s canvas Pro-Keds, high tops, and bright red. Despite what her hippy look and his red high top Keds might have inferred about them, they were engrossed not in some counter-culture discussion but the New York Times crossword puzzle. I noticed they sat as close as you could get to one another, her leg draped over his. They argued, they laughed and got legitimately excited when they figured out a tough clue. They constantly looked directly into each other eyes and smiled. And it was the look in their eyes that gave away what should have been painfully apparent to me by that point; they were very much in love and likely had been so for a very long time. This couple is in their own Beats commercial, I thought. Nothing around them mattered, and despite the noise, the only sound they heard was each other’s voices. Their world was each other, and nothing else mattered, and it was clear that was alright with them.
This is the uptown Number 2 train 96th street, next stop 110th street Central Park North.
He stood folding the paper and said, this is us. They gave each other a quick kiss and instinctively grabbed for each other hand as they strolled off the train. Their interaction with each other brought a smile to my face. One that was much-needed after a long week at work and the desire to reaffirm my fragile belief in the concept of love.
Stand clear of the closing doors; the computerized voice boomed crystal clear over the speakers.