The following is an observation I made of a woman while sitting on a bench at Union Square in New York City this spring:
A single tear falls from her eyelid and slides gently down her rosy cheek before making a delicate plunge through space into the blue of her cross-legged lap. She is a woman in her mid 20s- fair skinned with light brown hair and sporting a white denim jacket over her ankle-length navy dress –sitting on a lonely bench in a cold and crowded Union Square. In one hand is a cup of coffee and in the other a slice of iced lemon pound cake being maneuvered out of the light brown trademark Starbucks bag as it crunches in the icy wind. Her iPhone is snuggled uncomfortably between her shoulder and her emerald green earring and she shifts minutely every few moments to keep it place so she can sip her hot drink. But whatever is happening between her ear and the phone seems irrelevant to her at this moment in time, her responses to whoever is on the other end of the line consisting of strained “hmms” and forced giggles. She gazes out into space, her eyes lost some place far, far away like the eyes of the woman in American photojournalist Dorothea Lange’s iconic image “Migrant Mother.” There is mysterious sorrow in these eyes. Every few moments, she blinks repeatedly, her lashes fluttering at rapid pace like a butterfly with broken wings struggling to rise into the air. Her eyes well up with tears of grief that paint pain and raw sorrow on a once pale face turned red by the biting cold. Teardrops force themselves out of her clutch of self-control, unable to be trapped by her two hands that are occupied with a Starbucks cup and the telephone. The beads of tears fall helplessly. At first, only a few. And then, more and more. She has let go of something that has been fighting inside her for too long. Yet, she clenches her teeth to prevent the escape of a sniffle, and forces another enthusiastic giggle into her telephone. Her pain is independent of the phone conversation; her tears are invisible to the mystery caller on the other end of the line. Tears, giggles, tears, giggles. Her lap now looks like it danced in the rain.