On a Thursday afternoon in January, I disembark from the train feeling sick. My stomach ached and my nausea would no longer be contained. I am not car sick or anything like that. I am always sick.
The train stops directly in front of a library and I drag myself inside to puke inside one of its bathrooms. The library has become a shelter for homeless people. They come in for all sorts of reasons: some to catch their breath from the strenuous lives; some to get out of the cold, some read, and some use the bathrooms to wash up and gossip.
I am hurling my guts out when a homeless hooker enters with her friend. My stomach feels as if I have emptied everything and I slip to the floor feverish and weak. My legs cannot move and it has become hard to breath. This is common in my life, so I sit on the floor and wait for it to pass.
In the stall next to me, the hooker complains to her friend how it hurts to urinate. She is practically in tears as she tries to relieve herself. Her friend tells her they should go to a hospital or a clinic and she says she has already been to one. The doctor told her to refrain from sexual activity for a while. She and her friend laugh hysterically at the doctors orders. Her friend is trying to wash up, while the girl and I suffer in the bathroom. I listen to their conversation, and between jokes and gossips, the hooker confesses that she met someone. “I hope he loves me,” she says. “I just want someone to love me.” I am almost in tears by this.
As they are leaving her friend bangs on my door and asks if I’m ok. I am too weak to call out. They leave assuming I have passed out and will be found eventually. I cannot stay in the bathroom. There is no reception and I have to let my friend, who I am meeting in 1/2 an hour, know that I am too sick to visit.
I force myself up and out of the bathroom and stumble into an elevator. A man picks up my hat that I dropped and smiles at me. I say thank you in my best conversation voice. We ride to the ground floor where I look for a place with reception. I find myself outside, back on the train platform, the only place with a signal. The sun is bright. The January air is cool and comforting. But it is not enough. I begin throwing up on the platform..in a garbage can.
A man begins to rub my back and a woman asks if I need help getting to a seat. A street cleaner hands me some paper towels and asks if there is anything else he can do. Many are kind, some are annoyed with me, and others are pretending I am not even there. One man thinks I have food poisoning. I nod, knowing full well that my ailment is something else.
My friend tells me she is on her way and her boyfriend will drive me home. The minuets feel like hours. As I stand on the platform retching and feeling wretched I can only think of 3 things
1. Is how I have spoiled the outing with my friend
2. Is the spectacle I am making of myself
3. Is how despite how far our lives are I feel an eerie connection to the hooker…the girl in the bathroom. The girl who is also on the train platform getting two different kinds of looks: sympathy and disgust. The girl who just wants to be loved.