It is a hot night on the subway. I am sticking to the seat. On my way to Brooklyn. The train does not stop at my stop this late at night. I have to walk several blocks, near the park and in a city unfamiliar to me. I am staying with a friend. She will be asleep, wrapped in the arms of her girlfriend, who is beautiful and fun but will later turn out to be a liar. My friend has had bad luck with women. I love staying with my friend. She is easy to be with and easygoing. She does not ask much of me or my time and happily intersects with me when we are both able.
New York city has the most jello available in restaurants of any city I’ve been to. At home in Vancouver there is only one restaurant I can think of where you can order jello, and it always comes in a tiny cup, with whipped topping, and always has a skin on it that tells you it is stale. And they never have red. It is usually yellow or orange, like those flavours are cheaper, always on sale. In New York the jello is fresh and comes in a glass dish as big as my left breast. Which is a D cup, so that’s a lot of jello. And it’s usually red, and they cut it up in squares. It’s cold and refreshing.
When I was a little girl and would visit my father in Montreal we would ride our bikes to his mother’s apartment on Wilderton Avenue. His mother, my Bubbeh. I wouldn’t realize until much, much later that her name was Tillie, I only knew her as Bubbeh. Her apartment was exotic to me. So many stories high, I thought only rich people must live there. You had to push a buzzer, one of seemingly hundreds of white buttons, and she would talk through a speaker and let you magically into her building. No one else I knew ever lived in an apartment. Houses of varying states and ages, cabins, schoolbuses, tents, shacks, domes, wagons, townhouses, co-ops…but no apartment buildings. We would ride our bikes up long hills along the side of Mount Royal and spend the evenings with Bubbeh. She would measure me against her blue chair to see how tall I had grown. She would make fried chicken and kougal, salad with iceberg lettuce and chicken soup. Always for dessert she would make me jello. It would be in this rectangular glass dish with a lid, always the same one. I would try to guess the flavour before we arrived. I hoped for red. Me and my father would sit on the balcony and watch the planes land in the distance against the sunset, eating the jello. I let the jello linger in my mouth, turning it back into liquid, sloshing it around, savouring every bite before swallowing. I tried to make the jello last forever.
I am sticking to the seat so bad in the hot subway, on my way home to my friend’s house, where she will be sleeping in the arms of her girlfriend. I can not believe it is so hot down here underground. A strange man stares at me, he looks like he wants to talk. An old woman fans herself slowly with a magazine. We are the only three on the car. I imagine the cool jello I will eat tomorrow, remember how it refreshes and comforts.