“The museums are beautiful and amazing, but they are so lonely.”
She nearly killed herself trying to cross the street alongside the Port Authority. She ran directly in front of two taxis just as they were given the green light to go. Clumsily she quickly made her way onto the curb and I asked if she was okay.
“Can I walk with you for a while?”
I asked where she was going then told her that she could.
She quickly asked me if I lived around there and if I lived alone, and I told her that yes and that I did. She asked how long I’d been in New York, and I told her, and then she asked how I did it, living in this big city all by myself.
I said I didn’t mind it at all, and that I found it very easy to meet people in New York.
“Family is everything. It is everything. It is all we have.”
She said it with such gravity, such certainty, that it sounded perfectly true.
I suggested that perhaps without family, friends could serve as companions. She shook her head no and took a drag off a nearly-gone cigarette.
She was in town from Dublin. Her sister has a flat in the West Village, which is where she stayed for ten days. Her marriage to her husband of multiple decades was busted up, her two daughters were away in college and she was “empty nesting all over the place,” she said.
She was on her way to play a gig at an Irish pub. She plays a type of Irish flute or horn. She told me, but I can’t remember. All I could focus on was the desperation in her voice and the blankness of her face.
That’s when she told me, “The museums are beautiful and amazing, but they are so lonely,” and I knew immediately what she meant.
She is so lonely. It’s all she could talk about. Her every breath was a sound of defeat.
“Life is distraction. We are all just distracting ourselves” she said before I told her we’d have to part at 11th Avenue.
She didn’t say goodbye or thanks or anything at all, she just looked me dead in the eyes, blinked and left.