Posted On May 16, 2013
There is a story in my head. It has been there for more than twenty years. Correction: It is not a story. Not yet. It is an incident, a scene, a tableau. A memory. That is waiting to be turned into a story. There was nothing about the incident that should make it stand out the way it has for more than twenty years. It was not painful, or dramatic, or particularly violent. It did not even involve me directly. But it was a defining moment. I am just not sure of what (me? the former me? the me I was to become?)
Sometimes I think I know. Sometimes I am so sure that this was the moment that I knew I had to write. But then there is doubt: If that is true, why is it still in my head and not on paper? Sometimes I am sure that this was the moment that I knew I had to be kind, to be fearless, to act selflessly, always. It feels like it was a dream sometimes. Like one of the travel dreams that I have so often, where the place that I am either leaving from or going to is perceptible in great detail, but I am either not packed or don’t have my tickets, my license, my passport. I am not ready to go.
Mostly, I just worry it in my head. Not worry about it–there is no anxiety. I try to tease it out like a tangle in a skein of yarn. I am patient, knowing that ultimately, like a tangle in a skein of yarn, it will become straight, the impediment will be removed and I will continue on. Just not yet. It is almost soothing, this process.
I was on a Green Line car bound (for where? Does it matter?) But I had got on at Government Center and taken a seat. Behind me, the crowd continued to push onto the train. A man (young? old? undefined? or was it a woman? Does it matter?) was caught in between the doors as they closed. He was jostled, and his glasses were knocked askew. It was just like in a cartoon, or in a slapstick comedy depiction of what would happen to your glasses if you got caught in the closing doors of a subway car. He did not look hurt, mostly confused, maybe a little dazed. I wanted to get up, to push through the crowd and ask if he was ok. I felt such sympathy (empathy?) for him.
Then the teenagers behind me started to laugh. I knew they had seen what I saw, that it was what they were laughing at, that they were laughing at him, his broken sideways glasses. I felt sad for them, too. And angry. I wanted to turn, to scold them, to force them to acknowledge and regret their lack of feeling, their inhumanity to their fellow man. I stayed in my seat.
That is it. That is what happened. An uneventful event. Except that it continues to play out in my head after twenty years. But I am patient. I will know why. Eventually. I will know.