Fifty-Three Degrees

By Gianna Perani

God, I wish I’d have just checked the weather; maybe then I would’ve brought a jacket. It was one of those days when looking outside the window just wasn’t enough. It’s sunny but frigid, the unsuspecting kind. The kind when you think your sweats are enough to protect your skin from the harsh wind, but your thumbs still get too cold to type at the speed of which you’re used to. The kind where you feel it in your nose when you scrunch it to avoid needing a tissue and standing in the shade underneath a train platform, cursing yourself for buying a ticket that has you waiting 20 minutes in the unknown cold for your transfer train to arrive. 

I step into the waiting room at Track 1 of Jamaica's train terminal, surrounded by those who I can only assume to have been forced into the same fate as I was. Sandwiched between two train tracks in a glass box, there isn’t much of a place to go besides where I’ve decided. There are no more seats, and the people who are visible to me aren’t layered much, either. There’s not much else for me to do besides observe, noticing as the boy about my age sitting down in front of me has on the sneakers I’ve had my eyes on for about a year now but haven’t been able to find at a reasonable price in my size, down to the color—Green New Balance 550’s.

There’s a sound coming from behind me, but it's not alarming enough for me to turn around, and I can only assume that it’s someone listening to a video at a loud volume. I wouldn't be able to hear anything if it was any lower than 100%; my headphones are stamped over my ears. Ambient sound, though. Noise cancellation is too risky while I’m traveling alone. 

An odd time for an individual to be in a suit and tie headed to Grand Central Station, 11:21 am, but I’m guessing he’s going in late for work. Or maybe he’s headed home early? I know it’s not right to assume, but that’s all my brain is capable of doing right now, my eyes wandering against my will. A distraction from there being no heat in this glass box, and the collective agreement from everyone inside of hoping the sheer number of us (about 30, I’d say) is enough to create some sort of warm interior. 

That’s interesting; a woman just sat down on the bench. How did I not see that seat? Did someone else get up while I wasn’t looking? The train comes now in 11 minutes (11:34 am), if I was going to sit, I should’ve sat when I first got in this room. She looks warmer in a winter coat with a hood. Why did she come inside? I can’t judge. Why do I get to decide whether or not this stranger in front of me is cold?

As the minutes close in on my arriving train, I think of my mother. “Bring a jacket, you’ll get cold!” she’d tell me; though I’m sure I wasn’t the only child used to hearing that. But this time, my mother didn’t say that to me. I’m at the train platform. She’s home. She didn’t check the weather for me because I didn’t leave nor am I going back to where she is. It’s my responsibility to know the temperature outside, not hers to tell me. 

I text her, now having thought of her. “Hey”, I type, slowly due to my barely mobile thumbs, “Miss you”. I don’t even wait for the three dots to show up before typing again, “It’s so cold out this morning”. I shove both hands, with my phone, into the pocket in the front of my sweatshirt. I know she’s at work, so I’m not expecting an immediate response. The time reads 11:29 am, I should bear the weather, my train should be here soon. 

The last thing I want is to miss it, and need to wait even longer for a transfer train. Why would a transfer train have a 20-minute wait? I’ve always found that ridiculous, shouldn’t the two trains be closer together? Isn’t that the whole point?

I push through the doors and am immediately greeted with a brick wall of crisp air. This weather is typically my favorite; I wish I was in the appropriate clothing and a place to enjoy it. A pumpkin patch, apple picking, outside under a tree curled up with a book. That sounds wonderful right now. Autumn is my favorite season, but it’s moments like these when I realize I don’t just love layering for the fashion of it. But alas, here I stand, cold and surrounded by individuals all waiting to arrive at the same place, at the same time.

I guess that’s the cool thing about train stations, especially one as big as Jamaica. Everyone hurries off their train either in hopes of making their next direct one or in my unfortunate case, waiting around watching the crowds grow as your next train is seemingly inching its way closer to the stop. But at least we’re all in the same problem together. 

Even the people who bundled up today, they’re here, too. I don’t think they “get it” like the rest of us, though. You know, us who are cold. The guy on my left who makes eye contact with me as he blows hot air into clasped hands, in what I can assume to be his desperate attempt to gain a short period of warmth at the expense of losing his breath, he gets it. The woman on my right I can see pulling the hood of her gray sweatshirt tight over her ears, she gets it. There’s a sense of community in pain, it brings people together. I may not know these people, but the comfort of knowing we are all cold on these platforms is almost enough to warm my heart enough to feel included in the situation that none of us wanted to wind up in. It’s clear that I’m not the only one who didn’t check the weather this morning.

Not that I want people to be cold, but it’s nice knowing even just from mere glances to one another that I’m not alone. It seems silly, enough to make me feel stupid, that I didn’t just open the weather app. However, the power in numbers behind this mistake leaves me a little more okay with the fact that I did it. Okay, well, on a larger scale, I know I’m not supposed to think this way. But in the heat of this dramatic moment of me cursing out my own memory in my head, that’s what I need to convince myself to feel better. 

Do I sound crazy? I definitely sound crazy.

The sun is shining just 10 feet away, across the train tracks. I try to imagine myself on the other side, though probably still chilly from the wind, at least with the rays of light on me. Our train whistles in the distance and people begin to step up, closer to the yellow line. With one last chill down my spine, I feel my phone vibrate from the pocket in which I left it. I take it out, barely allowing my fingers to leave the comfort of the inside of my sleeve. It lights up.

“Did you bring a jacket?”

Meet Gianna Perani

Gianna Perani is a junior at Marymount Manhattan College studying Digital Journalism. She’s a huge cat lover and always reading a new book or trying a new coffee spot.
Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff