Bruce Davidson’s Subway was showing at the Hermès Gallery when I first moved to New York. I remember ascending the spiral staircase and running my hand along the leather-bound railing for the entire four flights to the sunlit solarium on top of the Madison Avenue store. I was the only one there. Both in the gallery and in ratty Chuck Taylor All Stars. I’d walked from the East Village to see Davidson’s iconic 1980’s photos—in person.

I took in Davidson’s portraits. The crammed, sweating, dangerous, defaced, inky underground of a New York City that halted along subway lines through Manhattan and the outer boroughs about the time I was learning to walk in a suburb outside of Des Moines. I shuffled on the sumptuous ivory Hermès carpeting from photo to photo noticing that each one was lined with dirty wrinkles from sooty seats to defensive faces.

When I saw this one. I felt the breeze come through the photo. I heard the train approaching the station. I clutched my purse, both at ease and alert. I read the woman’s book. I too bided my time with somewhere to be. I fell into this photo. And I knew then that I would do anything to stay here.

Yesterday, years later, I stopped in for Rinko Kawauchi’s Illuminance, showing through July 16. Summer was finally here and beaming through Hermès’ sunroof. Kawauchi’s photos were perhaps a bit more comfortable in the surrounding luxury of airy orange silks, equine status symbols, and must-have pocketbooks. Yet, her opening rose, solar eclipse, floating bubble, surf spray, and bird still-life all captured fleeting moments. Some only lasted seconds; others mere moments—like a season’s trend, a subway ride, a Saturday.

I felt the same looking at Kawauchi’s pairing above as I did at Davidson’s portraits. Again I shuffled around in a slightly less dingy pair of All Stars. Again I fell into the photos. Again I was at once thrilled to be here and terrified of ever having to leave. But this time, Melinda was with me. We were wandering up Madison snagging holiday weekend sales on the kind of New York day when the sun bejewels everything, including us.

Together, we enjoyed the city that was relatively empty after most vacated New York for a country, shore, or home respite…which happened to be why we stayed.