Union Square Subway Station

Photo: John St John

I’d been out of the city for weeks, hunger building, so ​that first evening back, I reached Union Square in a state of voraciousness so intense that it felt shameful,​ a bit rabid. I could feel the whites of my eyes straining, shrieking hit me, bring it, I’m home. I was outright looking for you, to be honest. Or at least, someone like you — a punctum of freak in the sober crowd.

In the subway, I put my body in the shy, resenting press of all the other silent bodies shifting up the stairs and clocked a teenage girl giving someone heavy side-eye. There you were, an ambling, ascending lightning rod of New York City voltages, and I screamed silent allegiance to you.

I lost you of course. But then, after coming up out in the undying daily din of the Hare Krishnas, you were ahead of me again, walking south on University Place. People slowed and stared; I ​dawdled after you like some dumb rabbit. You wore a cheap synthetic wig in a nasty shade of auburn, styled in a bob and topknot and you dragged a pair of suede thigh high boots in one hand like they were a thing you’d casually slain. Any trashy chic these elements conjured was warped by the stuffed plastic bags you gripped which​ appeared to be filled with actual trash. Your pale male body was cosseted in what I suppose is called a playsuit, a short, pink thing gathered and trussed into rosettes. Not the modish peach-pink of Acne ads in Williamsburg though​, but an auntlier, more suburban shade. Something redolent of gelatinous desserts, smeared lipstick and support stockings. It was backless, and I stared and was a little revolted by and in love with your scapula points, which looked like amputated wings.

You asked a blonde woman directions in a deep drawling voice and I dawdled, hanging back, feeling a silly little spike of regret that you’d asked her and not me. I would have been nicer. But maybe you wanted the balking stranger more than you needed the smiling one. Maybe that’s what you were seeking — the drag of “horrified blonde tourist” to tell you where you were, in the same way I was eating up your drag of “freaky weirdo” to tell me I was back where I wanted to be.

I watched you disappear west down East 13th Street and wondered how the roundedness of your butt seemed to communicate a vulnerability, even as you sashayed. You hadn’t seen me, you’d said nothing, but I’d heard your butt sashay say what I wanted to hear​: honey you’re home.