riding the train home today i encountered a girl that struck me. i remember in college doing a writing activity where we had to go and observe an event and then try to write about it without saying what the event was. for instance, going to a football game, but just trying to describe it as if you were merely an observer of said activity and had never been a participant. (football games are a commonplace example in alabama). as i was observing this girl on the train, my brain went to that place. studying her details and mannerisms. wondering her story.
she was simple looking with wavy hair and of short stature. she wore a dress with a vest and a long necklace. her feet held a brown pair of boots and on her back she carried an overstuffed army surplus bag. it didn’t seem as if she were traveling far, but as though she were carrying the weight of her decisions in that bag.
the look on her face reminded me of a storypeople: She held her grief behind her eyes like an ocean & when she leaned forward into the day it spilled onto the floor & she wiped at it quickly with her foot & pretended no one had seen.
i felt as if had she leaned forward just a bit, the ocean behind that sadness would spill out onto the floor of the train. and that if it did happen, she would have so much to let out, that wiping the floor with her boot would not suffice.
i offered her the chair inside the seat next to me. she politely declined with a warmer smile than i had expected behind those blue eyes. she stood holding the rail as if trying to summon the courage to face the things that were beating her down in that moment. sitting seemed an interruption from the place she was lost in her thoughts.
i saw her look toward a toddler sloppily eating some snacks on the train. i noticed a small half smile appear across her face accompanied with those warm eyes. as if the little details of life made every minute of pain bearable. she knows hope i thought.
and then, she was gone. off to face the world or remedy something broken if she can help it.
being so lost in my thoughts myself i ended up hoping on the purple line and riding it to the end only to realize that i was not in hollywood. the train conductor had caught the puzzled look on my face when we were stopped and asked if i was trying to get to hollywood…to which i responded “yeah” slightly embarrassed. he made me walk to the front of the train with him and told me he would see me to my destination. i told him i could find my way, but he insisted. made me feel like i was under 16 being escorted on a flight going from orlando to arizona to visit my grandparents again. one day i’ll look my age… but in the end i accepted the kind gesture.
[if you’ve never heard of www.storypeople.com do go check it out. right now.]