From The Archives: Strangers On The Train

A rather large African-American woman got off the (F) train headed to Queens at 21st-Ely, and I took her seat.  This beautiful, soft-spoken, mild-mannered girl also took her seat; two seats made from one.  I was writing and perhaps the mild-mannered girl saw the passage in my notebook about my recent battle with depression or perhaps she simply wanted to reach out.  Either way, she pointed to my exposed inner wrist that displays my “Jeffrey” tattoo.

“Did it hurt?” 

Thinking of all the hurt, grieving, anger, sadness, and emotions behind everything that lead up to commemorating my deceased brother on my wrist, I replied, “Yes.”

“Oh,” She responded while looking me directly in the eyes.

I looked away from her and stared straight ahead watching the darkness pass by through the train window.

“All tattoos hurt, I suppose,” I explained with less depth.  “I guess this hurt the least because it means the most.”

It occurred to me that connecting had become uncomfortable to me.  Perhaps I had been traumatized and feared loss.  Perhaps I was insecure.  Regardless, we talked the remainder of my train ride about work, tattoos, piercings, and Queens. 

“This is my stop,” I interrupted the flow.

She smiled with such a humanitarian energy, “Take care.”

Knowing I’d probably never meet her again I looked back and replied, “Good luck.”

As I walked up the stairs at Roosevelt Avenue, I felt a warm and hopeful energy fill my soul.  Such a short-lived but genuine interest and connection between two strangers felt so good; human connection.



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