Yesterday morning I rode the # 2 Train from 14th Street and 7th Ave to 125th and Lenox, Chelsea to Harlem, the distance between me and my girlfriend. It’s an express between 42nd and 72nd, and again from there to 96th, and then it screeches loudly because meanwhile the train has veered west, so the next stop, at 110th and Lenox, requires many sharp turns under the northern edges of Central Park.
It’s a great ride, better than driving even, which is pretty awesome at midnight when you’re on 10th Ave and competing with the cabs for space and speed. Except when it rains, and then everything clings and drips, your shoes, your pants, your shirt, your hat–your seat on the subway, too. Everybody gets surly, especially if they didn’t plan on the rain, like me yesterday morning.
I noticed all the wet people getting on at 72nd and 96th, and didn’t think anything of it because the weather changes so much from north to south in Manhattan. Then I get off the train at 125th, walk to the stairs that face downtown, and realize it’s pouring fucking rain. No umbrella, no jacket, what is to be done?
I finally decide there’s nothing to be done, so I climb the stairs and feel the cold water down my back, and quickly spot some shelter, an entry to the apartments atop Cohen Fashion Optical, where two black guys are sharing the small space. I hustle over there and place myself between them.
I scrape the water off my arms and empty my hat onto the sidewalk, I look up at the crowded skies, and I say, “No good news here, these clouds are moving south to north, it’s gonna rain a while.” The tall guy to my left looks up, then turns to me and says in a Jamaican accent, “How do you know this?”
I gesture to my left, that’s downtown, and say, “Look at those clouds, man, that’s more rain, see how there’s no difference between the bottom of the cloud and the top of the buildings? More rain.”
The short guy on my right says “You look black to me.” I turn toward him, and as I do I’m thinking Well, you’re wearing black pants, a black T-shirt, and black shoes, and toting a black bag, but instead of noting my color coordination I smile and say “It’s the light.”
And then the rain stopped.