The girl sitting next to me on the subway had the whimsically short cut I had admired since realizing, at the age of twelve, the unreachability of Disney princess hair, and she seemed past the point of defending it. Her corduroy jacket looked refashioned from an old carpet bag, and when asked, she said that she worked in “textiles.” She looked the sort of artist who would never claim to be one. She looked like my long-lost friend.
“Wait, you’re a Christian too? I never run into Christians here,” she said.
“Where do you go to church?”
“Tim Keller’s place.”
“Are you serious?!”
Her turquoise eyes, cat-like in shape but soft, seemed to shield deeper thoughts, even as she said how she had been looking for community. “There aren’t many of us.” Then she gave me a movie recommendation–“Man from U.N.C.L.E., so good.”–and seemed almost about to invite us to something.
Then we told her this was our stop. A strange look crossed her face. Reluctance.
I left her amid all the others on the car, wondering if she felt what I had perceived. How is it that long-lost friends say goodbye at the next intersection? And being alone–while, yes, wearying–was so safe, so usual, and maybe not just in New York.