Below is a collection of my favorite poems and stories inspired by my travels the last few years.
I was on the uptown A train when I noticed her.
She was wearing coral shorts and sitting in between two men with her bike in front of her.
I heard her sniffle and her eyes were a little watery but I thought maybe they were from allergies.
But after a few moments, I noticed more tears and it became clear that she was crying.
Her tears spilled out down the side of her cheeks and when she wiped them away only more came out. I wondered how long she’s been holding them back and I wondered what would cause a person to cry in the middle of a busy New York train.
But I guess it didn’t matter.
All it mattered was that there was someone right in front of us hurting.
And I felt all of it, as the rest of the train did because I’ve never heard a train so silent in my life in NY.
No one interjected and no one interrupted.
We just let her cry. It seemed like it was the best thing to do.
And through her tears, we all recognized ourselves.
We all recognized our own pain.
Our own misery.
Our own guilt
Our own disappointments.
Our own heartaches.
And all we could do was to let her cry because it felt like we were letting ourselves cry.
And on that day, I learned a very important lesson. To be more vulnerable and forgiving of myself when I cry.
Maybe that was the lesson I needed to learn that day and why the universe brought me on that train of all the trains in New York City.
And when the train came to a halt, a man got up and handed her tissues, and left without saying a word.
She looked up surprised as if she just remembered where she was.
And that was how I met the bravest woman I’ve ever seen on the subway.
The best bowl of ramen came to me by chance. I had just sat down and the man sitting next to me made eye contact with me. “Here for the first time?” we both asked at the same time and we both laughed.
“Yes,” I said.
“Me too,” he said.
Thus began a conversation of journeys, hardships, travels, and perseverance.
We bonded over how we were both uprooted from our homes at a young age, how we tried working in jobs that did not satisfy us, and how we both had dreams that made our parents feel uncomfortable.
“My mother and I are estranged” he shared with me, and I could see the sadness in his eyes.
I said sorry and wished things were different.
“My husband and I just bought a house in Mexico” he brimmed, and I could hear the joy in his voice.
When the checks came he asked if he can pay for mine because he wanted to thank me for what I did, and to be honest I don’t know what I did except for being in the right place at the right time.
And that was how the best bowl of ramen came to me by chance.
It surprises me
That misbelonging is not a word
Because it feels so familiar to me
When roots start to form
I begin to take flight
I don’t know why
I don’t know how
I wish it ain’t so
But it’s the only way I know
When I’m on the road
I become friends
with the unknown
I make peace
When I’m on the road
I pretend time doesn’t exist
Until I realize it’s time to descend
The rain on Canal is putting me in a chokehold
It makes the cabs look like beams of light
I lost my umbrella again somewhere on 16th and 9th
The icy cold rain pounding on me
My black dress dragging heavier with each step
I shiver and walk past the men of the ivory coast
They open their mouths to speak but all I see is fog
No Rolexes, no Guccis, Chanels or Pradas today
I’m free to pass
I walk past the art store that I used to love
The one with columns of acrylic paint and a creaky staircase
I walk past all the tourists soaking in their skinny flip flops
Confused about what to do in the rain
I walk past the Chinese ladies with their fanny packs
Grateful for the break from the rain
I hop in the train station
Unsure about what I’m looking for either
Maybe to feel a little bit more alive