It’s been a few weeks since I last saw you, maybe longer. I hope you’re doing okay.
Every day when I get off the 6 train at my stop, I breeze out the doors of the station and cast a quick, curious glance at you before heading home. This action became perfunctory as I grew accustomed to seeing you daily, patiently hoping for a customer or two out of the throngs of people exiting the train station in the late afternoons and early evenings, with a box of bright yellow bananas perched at your feet.
I watched, a bystander whom you probably never noticed, as you waited vigilantly day by day. You keep odd hours, banana man; I’ve seen you at your spot when the handful of stars that belonged to the city glinted overhead, wind swirling through the crunchy leaves that lay on the ground in the dead of autumn. The nights when I would return home from a late shift or an evening out, I noticed you.
Sometimes, I wonder how you can stand it. On some of the coldest nights, you wore a threadbare jacket and sandals. I’d hoped against hope that you would go home soon, because the sight of your bare toes poking through the top of those shoes made me feel cold in places where no clothing could warm.
It wasn’t often that I looked into your face. In fact, so rare an occasion it was, that it is highly unlikely that I would be able to recognize you in a crowd. It is your presence, ever prevalent and doggedly determined, that makes you stand out. But I could tell, by the brown of your rugged skin and the tired lines etched into the corners of your eyes and mouth, that you are one diligent man. Your face, the few times I’d absorbed it, was often expressionless. But I say this not in a derogatory manner, but because you are still, yet accepting. You are content in your space, because you recognize that sometimes life simply is.
I know that this probably isn’t what you were expecting, growing up in whatever country you did. Maybe you were an educator, or involved in politics overseas. So tried and true is the immigrant story in the United States that you likely could have been anyone abroad, only to arrive to this country to start all over, but this time with a heavy setback. Perhaps you never pictured yourself at whatever age you are, eyeing folks in the Bronx in the hope that somebody would give you a second glance and purchase a bunch of bananas from your stock.
I hope you know you have the ripest bananas I’ve ever seen. I look forward to seeing you next, so I no longer deprive myself of those beauties.