People talk to you in LA for all sorts of reasons, most of which are different from why people talk to you in NYC. In Manhattan, they ask directions, for spare change. In LA, most just want to share their story. So when she spoke, I stopped and asked why.
“Your shirt. Brooklyn. I lived there my whole life until I moved here three years ago.”
I just moved to Brooklyn, I tell her. Back to Brooklyn. After living all over the place for two years. After living in LA for many beautiful months that I still miss.
I want to move back here some days, I tell her, but then I don’t.
We talk about the way NYC makes your whole body tense. The way it makes you hustle. The way that you can walk the sidewalks for hours with no plan, with nothing. We talk about the water here, the air. The way you relax when you see the sun and sleep well when you don’t hear the sirens of a cemented city.
We stand in the middle of the coffee shop and we cry. Not the kind of cry that’s obvious to anyone else but the person in front of you. Our eyes grow misty and deep inside of hers, and deep inside of mine, we both see that what we are crying about isn’t what we said, it’s the stories we are scared to admit. I want to tell her about the way this city haunts me with memories. I want to tell her about the horrors I’ve lived through in my past. I know she wants to tell me all sorts of things. But we stay still, for seconds, silent.
Listen, she tells me as I continue on to the bathroom, I’ve made many mistakes in this lifetime (me too, I mumble into my straw) and I can tell you one thing: there’s no right way to live, no right way to know if you’re doing the right thing, you just have to keep moving the way your heart sways. Don’t ignore it.
Conversations with strangers. What a strangely beautiful thing.