Manhattan Christmas Eve (vi)

It felt great to be out again, the four of us, on an adventure. Lee and Mattie both armed with cameras and not afraid to use them. We were all talking back and forth and pairing up again and again in every combination as we walked. We all wanted to tell each other something and we all wanted to hear everything.

We found ourselves looking for food, considering the amount of time and travel and exposure to the elements we had already put in that day. We landed in the Europa Café and devoured fruit and pancakes, potatoes, bacon and eggs and toast and croissants, coffee and juices.

We set out for Times Square for transportation downtown. We considered taking the E train to Canal Street, then walk down to the World Trade Center site. We also thought of just taking a bus when we found ourselves in front of the Virgin Mega Store just as it opened. We strolled the DVD aisles, not buying but feeling excited about having given ourselves a DVD player for Christmas.

When we exited, we decided to take the subway downtown and Sue led us below the streets. We got our tokens and began making our way towards the platform for the E train. After descending a couple of flights of stairs we were there. The energy of the city was awakening, it was stirring, but it did not seem very crowded for 9:00 on a Monday morning. But it was also Christmas Eve. A transit cop shouted, in rhythmic repetition “Stand away from the doors. Let others out and then get on. Let others out and then get on”

Sue walked over to her and asked if the E train would take us to Canal Street. We knew it would, but we wanted to be assured and Sue was willing to ask.

“Where do you want to go? Where are you going? You going down to Chinatown? Here’s what you want to do. Let me tell you what to do.”

At this point, she put her arm around Sue as if she were about to impart a secret way to make our way down through the subway system of Manhattan.

In a lowered, partnering voice she said to Sue “You want the N train to Canal. That is much better. Go back this way, turn to your right, and back down the stairs. Take the N and you’ll be fine.”

Within moments we were on the N train and on our way to Lower Manhattan.

The train was not crowded so we all sat. As we approached Prince Street, the operator announced that the train would not be stopping at City Hall because of a police investigation. He then repeated the announcement, which seemed to make everyone a little more anxious. The next stop was Canal Street.

Once again we emerged from below Manhattan to its streets.

[from Pablo Notes in 2001]

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