The subway is undergoing repairs so that the train lines are running along one track. In New York, you have to walk fast, talk fast, and think fast as you drag your suitcase onto three different trains, up stairwells, and through dark tunnels.
New York rekindles my moxie. I’m outspoken when the cute stranger mistakes me for a native New Yorker(!), “No but I’ve been here tons of times.” Still, my better qualities don’t away with my renewed toughness. A homeless woman on the train calls for our attention. She requests bottled water, foor, and spare change. I can’t look away from her. I hand her an unopened package of shortbread cookies we got on the plane and tell her “God bless you.” My mom watches me.
“She could be mentally ill,” I say. My mom nods.
New York doesn’t make me mean.
New York makes me smile. It helps me be flirtatious with the too-gorgeous-to-be-true Dominican waiter, and jubilant as I stroll past brightly lit theaters. My mom and dad hold hands as they look in awe at the glamorous chaos of Times Square. I grin from ear to ear.
I’m an East Bay girl. But I needed a dose of Manhattan to remind me of the boldness of my heart.