Title: Broken-Heart Documentation
Creator: Carter, Emerald
Place: Brooklyn, New York
Description: Part of my 2012 “let go, love me” rituals. Performed on the A-Train.
On December 2, 2011, around 8 a.m., I was riding the A-Train to work, when a young man entered wearing a sandwich board. He wore that photo of him and his girlfriend like an article of clothing–had it draped around his neck.
When the doors closed, he looked up and said, “I’m not on here to ask for your money or to do any show for you.” He said, “Last night my girlfriend broke up with me. I loved her very much. I don’t know what I’m going to do without her, and all I can think about is getting her back.”
Then he pulled out a large Sharpie marker and said, “I’m on this train asking for your advice, and I’m willing to stay on here for as long as it takes.”
It was the most intense scene I’ve encountered on a subway cart. It wasn’t something you could just ignore, tune out, and retreat off into your morning commute. It made you feel. It was real, honest, an expression of human nakedness.
One woman said, “I’ve finally seen it all.” Another woman said, “He probably did something stupid.” Others peeped up from their newspapers or books and shook their heads, but a few people reached out for the Sharpie marker. And, I sat there wondering, wondering what all those signatures said, and what he planned on doing with all of them.
I didn’t have anything to write. Nothing to say. I just remember thinking to myself, “That’s love. That’s what love would do to you.” Those of us who have loved and have had our hearts broken knew what he felt.
I could picture him not being able to sleep, pacing his Brooklyn apartment searching for an answer to love between square feet. He probably cried and played “their song.” Then, he flipped through all their photos and found one that captured that fairytale day. He took that memory to Kinko’s and blew it up. Then, he went on an A-Train, stood before us, and said, “I have experienced the greatest feeling possible in human life, and I’ve lost it…now I’m lost.”
And there I was, baring witness, a poet, with no words of advice for a broken-hearted man. But, today I finally understand why, because one month after that encounter my lover left me–at 2:43 a.m. on New Year’s Day. I had nothing to write then, because I was going to stand in his footsteps nine weeks later saying the very same thing–that I loved. I exposed my heart wide open and it was broken, shattered, while every one around me made toasts with champagne.
I don’t have a Sharpie marker or a sandwich board memory, and no I don’t need your advice. I stand before you only so you can bare witness to me claiming the pain. But, when I exit this cart, I let go, I surrender, I breathe, and love me.