Yesterday I went into the city to meet with my phenomenal writing group. The six of us met by chance; we happened to sign up for the same writing class last fall/winter and when the class ended, we decided to keep meeting. You know when you meet some people that you just gel with? It’s like that.
This meeting was bittersweet because one of our members is moving to Tokyo in two weeks. We shared our writing as always but we talked alot about other stuff too. This group is good people and I value their opinions when it comes to my writing.
We’ve all had those chance encounters with people who open us up to new experiences and touch our lives in different ways.
Waiting for the 1:45 Train
If you haven’t been to Penn Station, well, let’s just say it’s not the greatest place to hang out and wait. I love Manhattan, but their station needs to be given a new coat of paint, spruced up — something. I’ve been to many train stations and this one pales in comparison to many.
You enter into it by going down many, many stairs. From the street it looks like a big, black mouth and you enter that mouth and go into the bowels of Manhattan. You get my drift? I’ve never seen anyone urinate at Penn Station, but someone must and on a pretty regular basis because I’ve never been there without catching a strong whiff of urine at some point.
There’s always musicians (some great, some not so much) playing a guitar, harmonica, violin, portable piano, horn — any and all musical instruments in all sorts of genres playing music. That part is way cool.
It’s like a maze in there, signs everywhere, people rushing here, there and it’s confusing. No matter how many times I’ve gone in, and I’ve gone in plenty, I can get turned around. It’s a crazy hodgepodge of signs, sounds, sights and smells. That’s part of its musty, dusty, pee-smelling charm though. And the lighting? Think yellowish sallow — and there’s no windows anywhere. Only two bathrooms in the entire place and only one waiting area with seats.
Anyway, I got my coffee and was lucky enough to find a seat by an older diminutive Asian lady who was impeccably dressed. There was a seat open to my right. I opened my book to settle in and read for awhile when a elderly man of color limped over to that seat and sat down.
He had a gentleman’s hat and shoes on, the kind of shoes that had circles and impressions on the leather and they were tied neatly. He wore thick brown khaki pants, an olive drab tee-shirt that looked as if he’s spilled something on it and he carried a cane. A beautiful reddish-brown wooden cane that looked hand-carved, shiny, varnished.
“Woo!” he said when he sat down. He leaned the cane against his leg and had a plastic cup filled with water in his other hand.
“How did you know my name?” I looked at him, not trusting.
“Your cup,” he said and pointing at it. “It’s got your name on it, you must be pretty special for someone to write your name on a cup.” He smiled at me. I didn’t say anything, just smiled back.
“Where you from? Tennessee? Down Memphis way?
“How did you know that? I got a strange feeling. How did he know?
“I got an observant ear.” He tapped his ear with his finger when he said it. “I can tell most times where anyone’s from by just listenin’.”
I looked at him, he smiled and I asked him where he was from.
“Virginia, I miss it.” He then went on to tell me he’d had to move here to work at a job driving a truck. He rambled on about this and that, telling me that the city was too big for him. How people don’t have any morals. How the homeless yell and scream in the streets — how it doesn’t make any sense to him. What his brother did for a living. How he wanted to get back home. How we were so lucky, that at any time, anything could happen. I agreed yes, we are lucky.
He didn’t smell of alcohol or look deranged. He just seemed like a nice man who wanted to talk.
I mostly just said no sir, yes sir, umm, that’s right. Small acknowledgements that I was listening and interested in what he had to say. It was as if he hadn’t used his voice in awhile and he wanted to just talk, talk, talk. Maybe he was one of those people under the radar and it was nice to be listened to, to be noticed.
He got silent after awhile and I looked up at the board and noticed my train was about to leave. I got up and said to him, “It’s been nice talking to you sir. I hope you get back home.”
He didn’t say anything. I looked back at him and his chin was resting on his chest and he was sleeping.
I thought about him all the way home and hoped that maybe our chance encounter would make a difference for him — if only for a little awhile. It made a difference to me.
Those chance encounters; sometimes they are truly the best kind there is.
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We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken. – Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Give love and unconditional acceptance to those you encounter, and notice what happens. - Wayne Dyer
Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. – John Milton
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Have a wonderful Monday and press play below for a nice song to start your week on a good note.