People don’t usually talk to you on the subway in New York unless they are begging or slightly crazy. New York of course has its higher per capita mumbling crackheads, sadly almost all black men aged in their 30s and 40s shuffling along at a slow pace afraid of any noise. I was sat reading my book on the train just returning from the New York Knicks game with Beau in New Jersey. It was my last night and I was feeling nostalgic for the city I was about to leave.
Its title is fairly arresting and maybe that’s what maybe started up the conversation.
‘Can I ask what your book is about?”
I turned to look and there was Bora sat in a little red riding hood coat covering her black dress. She had been at the theatre with a friend. But I was to learn all that later. I explained the book, Foucault’s Madness and Civilisation, the history of insanity as we entered the era of reason in the eighteenth century. It essentially establishes the categorising of inconvenient people who were previously tolerated but now systematically controlled as lepers were previously. This has now been extended to criminals, the elderly and whoever else is inconvenient to our modern lives.
I then asked her about herself. She was from Albania but had lived there 13 years. I asked about Albania for I was visiting in a few weeks. She smiled and told me with pride how it was organising and developing now. I asked where I should go, which special little places there were etc. She talked enthusiastically. I made some mental notes.
The train pulled into a stop and she smiled and said it was hers. We both looked disappointed and she got up. My stop was one more. I knew what to do but didn’t know how she would react. She got up, said bye and exited the train only to stand by the window for a moment. I counted 3 seconds and turned to look. She turned to look and smiled. I knew what to do. I got up and dashed out the door.
‘Do you wanna go for a coffee?’
‘A coffee? At this time? No..but I’ll have a drink.’
She laughed. I laughed and we walked to the stairs.
She knew the area better than me. We walked to her favourite place and sat, talking, drinking and laughing for hours. At 430am as the bars stopped serving, we were still there. I was flying the next day and had to go. We left together and walked to the corner. There we said goodbye, swapped emails addresses and kissed. We both smiled as we wandered away and waved. I couldn’t have asked for a better last night.