She oozed the New York to which I could not conform. Lacy stockings matched a carefully arranged lacy scarf, and her lace-clad feed were tucked into an unseasonable pair of ballet flats. They were nondescript, and old but these shoes she wore now, on the train, did not matter because no one with any sway saw her balancing, dancer-like, twenty minutes earlier in designer heels, atop a self-carved pedestal of blue navy bankers’ suits, hair gel and designer wire-rimmed frames. Another night out after work, another $20 on a martini and a half. No dinner.
Her nails were painted but in last year’s pastel shades, yet her Sephora tote bag contained the latest New York fashion week colors. She read Refinery 29 that morning and knew what to buy with the highly taxed yet more than average biweekly paycheck. She was saved and cool yet, even though Good Friday wasn’t for another month.
Last time she spent her whole paycheck, even the rent, on a pair of vaguely hipster eyeglasses frames, because being that little bit naughty and offbeat in finance was cool these days. Her crush didn’t shave last week. She thought her new glasses emitted he right amount of edge, the right amount of wrong for him to look at her over his Scotch on the rocks, at that company-sponsored happy hour. She was mistaken, the articles had lied again; no glances came her way, so now she just was sitting on the train in her flats with aching feet, putting her Seamless order on a credit card with a balance that kept rising. A spinach salad for one, no dressing, pint of ice cream on the side. She wore the fake oversized diamond on her ring finger of her right hand, just in case anyone questioned why she was going home, alone, on the N train at 9 pm on a Friday. Because she knew someone was watching. In New York, they were always watching.
She took a piece of gum – Trident – from her bag, holding her brand new iPhone 6 in her left hand. The fake gem sparkled as she vehemently chewed and secured her 8 am Soulcyle seat before a botomless brunch with the girls and by default, the guys. Her eyes met mine and suddenly, I saw the 10 year old girl putting on lip gloss and lip-syncing to the Spice Girls as she made her lips shine, as if that date with the cute pop star was about to happen. I saw someone dancing in a floaty dress to Madonna, sneaking in episodes of Sex and the City and chocolates, even though her mom didn’t deem the show appropriate. I saw wide social circles, and sororities, and being normal and forgetting that she wanted to be a fashion designer because no one else would understand.
But then she looked away and in a swipe of the ring-clad finger across the iPhone as she secured tomorrow night’s Tinder date and a confirmed her late, sad, seamless- ordered dinner for one, She was gone, cold and lost and disdainful because she knew that’s the only way to fit in here.
“I didn’t need these things. I didn’t need them.”