Because I Am A Girl: Stories Of New York
West 14th Street on a Wednesday afternoon looks nothing like what I’m used to. In the hustle and bustle of the weekend tourist hour, I usually power walk, keeping my head down and my headphones in. On a random afternoon, however, the side-walk was empty in comparison. Few faces were scattered through the street, their pace acclimated to the afternoon lull. I kept my usual pace, walking the speed of a marathon runner on the way to a finish line. I was in no rush, but that didn’t slow me down. I could see the solicitors from a mile away, and wanted to avoid them at all costs. I tried to rush past the three pink vested folk, but I wasn’t fast enough.
“Hey! You look awesome! Are you awesome?”
Caught. I slowed to a stop. The woman who stopped me looked me in the eye. Dark, smooth skin, slicked back hair, minimal make up, with her eyes framed by thick, violent blue plastic glasses. “I”m Kendal! What’s your name?”
She wasn’t looking for just another stranger to sell her product to. She was looking for a real conversation. She wanted to talk to me about her product. She wanted to talk to me about the women in various countries who would benefit from my dollar a week. The education, the freedom; clean water and the right to refuse childhood marriage. All of this and more could be mine, if I simply gave her my credit card number. Her campaign was powerful. She was passionate about her words, you could see it in her eyes. It’s all about girl power. Because I Am A Girl…
I explained to her that I wished that I could, however, I just quit my job and couldn’t afford to spend the dollar. She understood. She sympathized. The conversation quickly moved away from starving, abused women in Egypt and moved towards my life, her life, our lives in New York and the struggle to get by. “I talk to people all day, and yet, I never really talk to anyone.”
She asked me what I do. I told her that I’m a writer.
“That is awesome! You’re so cool! Good on ya, girl!” The R’s rolled off her tongue. Without warning, she leans in and gives me a bear hug.
“People are not acknowledged for their accomplishments enough.”
In the three minute conversation, I discovered more about her than I know about people I’ve known for years. She’s from New York. She wants to get out. Where do you go to escape New York? Seattle or California. California proves to be a challenge, however, as her ex-boyfriend lives in California.
“His energy follows me wherever I go,” she sighed. “Bar karma follows you whether you want it or not.”
I wish I had taken her picture.
She asked me if we could be friends. I said yes, though I could tell that my definition of friendship and hers were two different things.
She gave me another hug. This time, I didn’t cringe as much. I smiled and walked away. When I walked back along the same street hours later, she was nowhere to be found.
It has been two weeks. I don’t think I’ll hear from her.