Every time the Metro-North train approaches New York, my heart beats faster, my smile breaks world records…Guys, New York is in my head, my heart…I can’t stop writing about love in this city. Or Trains!!! Bear with me.
She is wearing a white t-shirt the first time I see her. It is a color that was made for her. It offsets the coffee color that is her smooth skin and eases the shock that is her red braids.
When she is in white, I can see my future. There we are dancing after we have said our vows, she in a white dress and I in a black tux. There I am, grimacing as she breaks the tiny bones of my hands while bringing our children into the world. There she is, with a white Fedora, smiling for the camera, the white lilies of Venice, a backdrop for the photo that will sit on my work desk forever. There again in a white swim suit holding our daughter on the beach in St. Kitts. And there, standing in Times Square, her red coat offset by the white snow flakes that swirl all around her, her hair tied up in a white scarf…
She is beautiful in white. And red. And every other color she will ever wear. But it is in white that I first loved her, it is in white that I love her the most.
I have seen this particular white t-shirt before. On many other women, at many other times, in many other places.‘I love NYC’ , the shirt screams to all and sundry in splashes of blue and red against a white background of forgiveness, healing and purity.
I want to tell the girl in white t-shirt that she wears it better than every other woman who has ever worn it. I want to tell her other women in white are a farce, an impossible dream, the beginnings of anxiety and hope that is fruitless. I want to tell her I will see her again. I want to tell her how I long I have loved her; 6 minutes since the train stopped at Grand Central and she stepped onto it and sat across from me. I want to whisper in her ears that it is alright to have tattooed angels peeking out from underneath the sleeves of the white t-shirt. I want to tell her stop pulling down sleeves that were meant to go no further. I want to tell her it is alright to be who she is- an angel with tattoos to remind her of whence she came.
‘The next stop is Park Avenue’, the automated train conductor informs us. When I embarked on this journey, I had a destination. I was going to Park Avenue, to make more money for already rich people. But that destination changed when the girl in a white t-shirt got on.
I do not know what I will tell her. I do not know where I will begin. I don’t know when ‘me’ and ‘her’ will become ‘us’ or how. But I know that when God gave man the power to love, He also gave him the power of premonition, the power to see beyond the present, the power to see into the future, the gift of prophecy.
The train stops and the loveless get out. There is an empty seat next to her so I take my chance and sit next to her.
‘Have you been waiting for the space to free up all this while?’ She asks even as she stares straight ahead.
‘Maybe’ I answer.
She smiles and continues staring ahead.
‘I can see into the future,’ I tell her before the little courage I have gathered takes flight. I wait for her to laugh at me, for her to turn and look at me with eyes that mock away my self-respect but all I hear is a sharp intake of breath.
‘In it, in the future, you wear white on all of our important days. In it, you are my lover, my mother, my sister, my friend. In it, you are happy but no way near as happy as you make me. In it, we get off this train together and have a forever after. In it, you are brave enough to fall in love with me and the future I paint for you.’
She says nothing for a while and my heart starts to crack with the effort of unrequited love. The train continues to glide on and its passengers continue to mind their own business, all of them unperturbed by the precarious condition of my heart.
‘In this future that you see,’ She finally says, ‘You say we get off the train together but you didn’t say what stop?’
I smile then because there is only one option after all.
‘Eden’ I say. ‘Mt. Eden Avenue’
She nods her head then and relaxes for the first time since she got on the train.
‘My name is Segilola. And you, your name is Iyanu.’ It is not a question. It was not my name but it is now.
‘I had a dream last night.’ She continues ‘That the future would begin today. That I would find something wonderful today. I never thought I would find it on the subway.’
‘Yet here I am’ I tell her.
‘Yet here you are. In a most unexpected place.’ She agrees.
We get out together at Mt. Eden; an Iyanu and a Segi, naked before each other but not ashamed because we have love and the dream of a future to clothe us even if we lose Eden and everything else.
Iyanu – Wonder
Song of the day: U2 – All that you can’t leave behind