Saturday, May 24, 2008

Games with Strangers

Landing at LaGuardia today, I'd decided in a moment of empowered confidence, that I could be frugal and take the bus and subway into Manhattan. It was harder than I thought it would be, being screamed at that the bus does not take dollars, 'how do I not know that get on already', and then bargaining for change, all while trying to carry my duffel bag in a way that would be least likely to stunt my height.

When I finally got off at the subway station, there were no subways running because of a switch malfunction.

Instead, somehow, I ended up taking a cab with a stranger, who found me sitting dejectedly on the sidewalk. The stranger was in his 40s, a slightly drunk man from out of town with an asian 'preference'. (I've decided not to say fetish anymore, seems unfair). I've always said I can sense 'asian preferences', but I guess it's not really a gift, because the moment the person in question starts talking, it's a pretty standard conversation, with few variations:

"Where are you from? Oh, I mean like your family :gestured wave:. Oh really? Well, I love kimchee. Yea I like spicy things. Love 'em. And barbecue. You know, I visited Korea once. And my friend's brother's cousin's boss's wife is a korean lady. charming girl. yea... and Japan, I love Japan. Have you been there?"

Usually, I wouldn't have agreed to being picked up to share a taxi, but I think maybe all the traveling and the 'we are all connected lights' thoughts made me feel more receptive. In the cab, he asked me how old I was, and stupid me thinking I was being funny, said "17," with a smile.

I saw him quietly flinch, "You look... very.." I didn't want to find out if I'd inadvertently stepped into 'Catch a Predator' territory, so I told him no, I had graduated college, and the rest of the ride was listening to nostalgic life advice - which was actually, considering he was on his third straight day of beer, very helpful.

As we crossed into Manhattan, there was a moment where the cab paused, seemed to hover on the metal bridge, right before the skyline. The sun was setting, and I could see it falling behind the buildings. Even he stopped talking, "It never stops to amaze, does it?" he grinned and I had to smile back, it was like finding light, finding home.