Standing on the subway this morning, holding on to the slick of greasy pole, I stood before a woman sitting in a fur vest who, after staring out into nothing, erupted into sudden laughter. Shoulder-shaking, head thrown back, breathless squeaking, twelve year old girl at a sleepover with underwear in the freezer kind of laughter. She wasn’t holding a book, a phone, listening to a music player, or watching a scene unfold. I searched for the cause of laughter. I looked at the people sitting beside her, to see if anyone joined in, to see if she was a part of something I could not place, but she laughed alone.
So, I deemed her crazy. Harmless crazy (on the New York City subway we must make these distinctions) but crazy none-the-less.
After the laughter subsided, and this laughter had gone on for quite some time, after she caught her breath, wiped her eyes and sat still, she turned to the man sitting beside her, who had been quietly reading a book, and fell into the ease of conversation, because, all along, they had been paired.
Their connection surprised me. I had labeled him: ‘man reading’. Her: ‘crazy person laughing’. I had thought them strangers to one another. And I don’t know why it bothered me, to discover their togetherness. But it did.