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The plane landed.
My heart throbbed.
This was it.
I pulled my bag from the overhead compartment, and then stood inside the plane until we were let out.
The air was cooler, the humidity gone. I definitely wasn’t in Florida anymore. The grass was greener and the sky was bluer. This was my city.
I boarded the elevator with a loud Italian man and his friend, two brunette sisters, and a touristy looking couple with high white socks. The Italian man was speaking loud enough for everyone to hear, complaining about the elevator buttons in good humor.
“Damn elevator.” He said, “I press all the buttons and none of ‘em work. Eh, welcome to New York City.”
The elevator opened into a catacomb of subway entrances. People bustled about, unable to reach their destinations fast enough. I slid my metro card past the scanner and boarded the train, claiming a silver pole instead of an overcrowded row of seats.
The guy standing across from me, whose hand happened to be just inches above mine, looked down at my luggage, and I stole a glance at his handsome grey eyes. He looked at me, and I looked down, hoping not to give myself away. He hid a grin, then slipped his hand closer to mine.
Did my heart just skip a beat?
In my mind, I’d gone through different scenarios, each involving a summer romance in the big city. What 16-year old girl didn’t dream of that? I wanted to say something and overcome my quietness, to burst through the seams of my own confinement.
The train slowed, and he stepped off.
The next stop was mine. I rolled my luggage out of the train and took the handle as I climbed the steps out of the subway station. A train swept by, rattling the teeth of any person within 50 feet. They were indifferent.
At the very top of the steps was an up facing penny. I plucked it from the cement and held it up to the night sky, examining it. In the back of my mind, I remembered pennies as a symbol of luck.
Greenwich Village unfolded before me; the most beautiful place in New York City, in my opinion. I saw the Washington Arch in the distance, the beautiful cherry blossoms, and the long rows of brick buildings. If only I lived here.
A wealthy looking man, maybe in his mid-thirty’s, eyed me as I passed by, and I realized trouble wouldn’t be hard to find in a place like this. He smiled at me, but I ignored him and continued on.
The silvery sound of drums being played drew me towards Washington Park, where I found a man with blond dreads beating his heart out on a million different sized drums. He flipped his drumsticks into the air, loosing one but pulling another from his pocket and continuing to play. I dropped a twenty into the glass jar before him. His eyes bulged for a moment, but he continued to play.
None of this was enough. All of these random events, exciting in their own way, weren’t enough to quench my thirst for adventure. I wanted passion. I wanted life. I wanted love.
I looked across the field towards the arch, where my eyes found the guy from the subway. When he looked up, he stopped abruptly, as if caught by some unexplainable force of gravity.
I couldn’t breath.
He hesitated, then made his way towards me. I dropped my luggage. He picked up his pace, jogging through crowds of people, never loosing my sight. I shook. He ran, jumping over a fence in hot pursuit. I shivered.
He kissed me.
My life was complete.