I don't notice the rock scrape my elbow as I press further over the edge, longing for breathable air through the crowded observation deck. I seem to have discovered a secret. The crowds are drawn to the brightest lights, the tawdriest spectacle, the other side of the observatory. But I like this view. Central park, dark now, is a gaping hole ripped out of the center of uptown Manhattan, and the smaller buildings cast a soft golden glow over everything else. It's amazing to me how people overlook this. Even my friends are shouting and laughing beside me. But it seems like their voices are fighting through water, distorted and disoriented and unclear. My eyes fill momentarily with tears for this city I will never forget, for hoping to always come back, and for the fact that these people, my friends, hardly know me. But he knows me. I know he does, because he doesn't make a gaudy display, interrupting my solitude. He simply touches my arm to let me know he's there. We stare at the golden haze. When we both know it's time, we face each other. His face is lit sideways by the lights of the lower decks, illuminating his dark eyes glimmering with the same tears as mine.
"How are you doing?" he asks, putting a gentle hand on my shoulder.
"Fine--holding it together," I reply, searching him with my gesture as if to say and you? I place my hand on the side of his waist for barely more than a second.
"Me too." We look at each other, understanding.
I wonder how we look to people who don't know us. A tall, brunette boy with his hand on the arm of a slender girl in an elegant dress. She brushes a fleck of something off the shoulder of his pristine, grey jacket. They hold each others' eyes, cinnamon and cobalt. Then the moment passes, and they both know it's time to leave, bound for their homes separated by seemingly endless distances and oceans. But they stay close as they make their way through the crowd, eyes glistening. Perhaps they always will.