I held a metal pole, moved underground, and heard a man say "Mary Clare." His accent reminded me of ten years before when I lived farther south near a woman named -
"Mary Clare," I heard a young girl repeat in mocking affection. His daughter - I assumed - and that must have been his wife in the long coat - her back facing the train doors, her hand holding the same pole as mine.
I remembered Mary Clare sitting at my family's kitchen table, drinking wine and laughing with my mom. I remembered her long skirts and short hair. I remembered her dogs, the ceramic tiles covering the wall behind her stove, and the plants covering the hill that rose behind her pool in Atlanta.
"Minnie Bob," I heard him say. And I remembered meeting Minnie Bob - her hair short just like her sister's - at Mary Clare's daughter's wedding.
"Excuse me," I said, "but are you talking about Mary Clare Kearse?"
"No." He spoke without hesitation.
A moment later, he looked at me again, "Wait...yes, Kearse."
I explained how they are old family friends, how we know them from when they lived in Virginia, how I lived in Atlanta my first year of college.
The doors opened at my stop.
"Goodgame?" I asked.
"Like a good game of tennis!" his wife confirmed.
I smiled and left the train, hoping they understood my directions to Battery Park, wishing I'd given them my card.
I hadn't spoken to Mary Clare in years. That afternoon, I called and left a message, excited to tell her that I'd met the Goodgames in a car on a train in New York. I told my parents the story, and they told me that they hadn't heard from her in a long time.
I didn't hear from her either.