Winter has finally landed in New York City. As I left my shoot at the Nomad Hotel, the freezing air shoved me hard, like a football player going in for a tackle. I pushed back with conviction to make my way down the subway stairs, camera gear in tow.
At the 14th Street stop I made my way up and down the stairs, quietly dragging my bags to make my transfer. Was my camera gear that heavy, or did someone switch out my lenses for a bag of bricks? I wasn’t totally sure.
It was almost midnight, and in a New York miracle moment my train came as soon as I walked up. Thank you God! I sat down, put my headphones in, and inhaled a rice krispie treat. When my stop came I regretted not biting the bullet to pay for a cab. The last thing I wanted to do was heave my bags up yet another set of stairs. But I grabbed my cross body bag and carry-on, and left the train.
I started up the stairwell, and thought I heard someone talking to me.
When I turned around I was face to face with a tall, handsome European man with just the perfect amount of scruff. He was wearing a navy wool sweater and dark jeans, and I stood there for a moment trying to figure out if he had said something.
He looked at me and smiled. I looked at him probably a little too long before taking my headphones out and saying, “Pardon?”
“Can I help you with your bags, please?”
“Oh, uh, what? Uh…yeah. I mean yes. Yes please. Thank you so much” I stuttered, half smiling, half trying to pick my jaw off the subway floor. Do guys even do stuff like this anymore?
We looked at each other and smiled. He nodded, grabbed my bag, and we walked up the stairwell. We didn’t speak, but exchanged glances and smiled a few more times.
Once we got to the top of the stairs, he put my bag down and handed it to me.
“Here you go” he said with a smile.
“Thank you so much.”
“Yeah, you too…”
He walked to the left and I went to the right. And that was that.
It was a 90-second interaction, but it felt special. And romantic. I felt seen and cared for, and by a complete stranger.
As I walked the rest of the way home I replayed the scene in my head. I didn’t want to forget this tiny interaction. There was no grand ending. He didn’t say I was beautiful or ask for my number. But he treated me like a woman, and he was kind. I think that takes courage — not just a guy, but for anyone.
It made me wonder if there are moments of romance and connection bouncing around all around us, if only we’re open to it.