Back in time, perhaps a month or so ago. There was a light mist, wet streets and the usual suspects walking opposite me.
The Spanish workers, the Eastern European lady pushing an empty stroller and a scattering of school teens heading off to their daily rituals. Lights, green, yellow and red.
Walking up the stairs towards the platform to catch my train. I huff up the stairs and make it to the top, puffing.
A small crowd stands waiting and I head towards the spot towards where the front of the train will stop.
As I see the train on Kings Highway, one stop away, the mist becomes a downpour. Rather than take shelter under the awning I stand straight and cover my head with my hoodie.
On the train I capture a lady sitting staring and she looks so familiar in a long ago forgotten way. I try not to stare but something about her reminds me of east second street in the early 1980s.
Suddenly she looks my way and she grins.
“Freddy.” Not even a question, more like a statement.
I reflexively respond to her by saying her name.
I stand to walk across the car to her. She stands and we smile and half embrace.
“It’s been, what? Thirty years?”
“I stopped counting.”
“You haven’t changed.” She says.
“I added some flesh to my flesh. You look amazing. You have changed and it’s for the better.”
“Does that mean I was ugly once?”
“Oh stop it. You were the prettiest girl in the neighborhood.”
She looked fuckin amazing but I couldn’t express that because it would be inappropriate.
“So what are you up to these days?” She asks me.
I told her about my family, my job and my writing.
“Are you still married to…”
“No, we divorced after two kids and several kicks in my balls. I’ve been married to an amazing woman for over 25 years now.”
I explained my kids situation.
“How about you?”
“I’m married to, for 30 years now. We have 3 boys, actually 3 men and 2 ladies.”
She described her kids with her eyes bursting with love.
“We’ve come a long way since those days, huh? What are you doing in town, I heard you moved to California?”
“Yeah, outside of Los Angeles. Been living there since I married.”
“So why are you on the F train, in Brooklyn?” I laughed.
“I am going to the city and figured I’d take a ride on the train I haven’t been on the train since I moved. I am meeting Danielle for lunch. She lives on the upper east side. Remember her?”
“Of course I do. I see her once in a while during the holidays or at weddings.”
“Are you still listening to Bob Dylan and rooting for the Mets?”
“I am embarrassed to say that the music I listen to most are the same artists as when we used to hang out together. The Mets? Always.”
“So what brings you back here.”
She told me about a job she had taken in Los Angeles and how it brought her to travel. She would be leaving the next day and for some reason I felt sad. Seeing her again after almost forgetting she was real and not some warped memory or a passing thought or daydream brought me back to a time long ago forgotten.
The train was at my stop so we half embraced, smiled awkwardly and said goodbye.
I could have stayed on that train, but I knew I needed to get off.
“Friend me on Instagram, I’m under my name.”
“I already follow you.” She smiled.
“I am embarrassed, some of that stuff is lunacy.”
“Don’t be, it’s hilarious and don’t ever lose that part of you. I’m so happy to see you have not become conventional and have stayed, ‘Freddy.'”
I smiled but I felt kind of choked up. I walked off the train.
Her smile still made my heart jump a bit and the fact that she told me how happy she was that I was still me, gave me an extra bounce in my step.
I thought about her as I stood on the A train. Memories of her and myself in my parked car. Memories of us young and so free with ourselves. I thought about her and I became emotional.
It wasn’t 30 years since we used to spend all of our time together. It was closer to 40. Until today I had lost those memories. Now they came flooding back.
The songs, Night Moves, The River, You May Be Right among so many more. The memories were so clear now it was as if it were just yesterday.
Her lips, her aroma, the softness of her skin…the look on her face when she would see me…
Once upon a time, she saw me on stage and was taken by me and in turn, I happily gave myself to her.
How could she have slipped my mind? Perhaps she set a standard of satisfaction I never thought I could feel again?
The innocence lost, the ignorance of youth and the fever of first love. It burned within us. It expressed itself like a wild fire, a passion that I don’t believe can truly be matched. Not because one will not be blessed to be loved and to love another again. But simply because there are some events in life which can never be duplicated or revisited, and should never attempt to be.
I walked onto the streets of Manhattan and checked my watch. It was getting late.
That train ride was invigorating and infuriating at the same time.
I am blessed and I know that there were several times I could have died but was spared. There were times I thought I’d never be loved again only to be blessed once again.
I kept thinking about her throughout the day and that evening. I was going to tell my wife and our mutual friends from the past, but I kept it to myself. I know their opinions would sully any feeling I had. This was one thing I would keep to myself.
I had dreams about her and I. Back on East second street and at various spots entangled in my car.
Her words soothing me, her presence empowering me, chasing away any doubts or fears that had been ingrained in me.
We saw into each other straight to our true selves.
I awoke to find myself concealed once again. Under the cover, and undercover. A stranger to myself and to the world around me.
Walking to the train the next morning, the sun was doing it’s job and the usual suspects were milling around, going their ways. The streets were still wet from the overnight rain and the street lights were flashing red, yellow and green.