normally I don’t post creative works on here. but last week we had one of my favorites here:Herman Haan. He always challenges us to step outside our box. to do something unexpected. this week he brought two songs to us “one of us” Joan Osborne and “if it be your will” Leonard Cohen. we had to take one of the two songs and analyze it and share that and then we had to make our own creative interpretation. this is the fictional story that came out when I sat down to interpret “one of us”
And so I sat.
I take the same train home everyday.
I sit in the same spot in the same car.
Most people deem that impossible but I know it’s the same because of the mickey mouse sticker stuck on the bottom of the seat across from me.
I come home from work at almost the same time every day so I see the same cast of characters.
There’s a trio of school teachers normally complaining about this is that. There is an always loud group of teenage girls coming from dance class.
There’s multiple businessmen who every day get frustrated with the exact same breaks in cell service.
Then there is this guy. Who usually has a suit on and it’s rumpled in all of the places you’d expect a suit to be rumpled.
One time I saw him pull a rattle out of his pocket. He smiled at it and stuck it back in his jacket.
I gather he’s a father.
But for as rugged as his appearance can be, I never know if he’s coming or going. I don’t know if he’s going to work and lacks an iron or if he’s coming home from work and carries weight and responsibility with him.
The thing about train commuters is that we are a people who are creatures of habit.
So when I got on the train today I was shocked to find him in his rumpled suit sitting in the seat next to the one across from the mickey sticker.
I contemplated sitting somewhere else since he had so oddly changed the assigned seating of the 5:30 train.
But something about the look on his face compelled me to sit. It wasn’t just that he was tired looking, like he had a lot going on, he looked wearied. But he looked wearied and alive at the same time.
He looked young but old.
So I sat.
Sitting next to him he fished out of his pocket a torn crinkled picture; one that had gone through the washer a few times. I found myself hooked on it. He kept running his fingers over along the seams created from time spent in a pocket. I just kept my eyes glued.
I don’t know how long I stared at it but in a swift moment I felt the atmosphere change. I could feel his eyes on me. Looking at me.
I wanted with everything in me not to look up.
But at some point I’d have to look up. Up into the eyes of this man who took the same train as me.
I found myself want to look in his eyes. If anything to find so many answers to questions I had stored up. Not necessarily about him, though I did have some, but mainly every question I had stored up sitting on that train. Every moment that I had watched poles scan by the window. Every moment I sat contemplating what I was doing.
I knew he would have the answers.
So I looked up.
He held by eyes and smiled this tired smile.
Here’s the thing: I’m just a normal person. I work a 9 to 5 job and go home to a studio apartment.
I have a basil plant and a fire escape.
I’m not complicated.
And this man could understand that. He saw something in me as he held my gaze. It was like the picture he had in his pocket had me in it.
He knew me.
He saw me.
He saw me.
I didn’t want to break away from the stories and emotions running through my head, but he broke eye contact from me.
And I sat.
I sat long enough to come to the realization that I had, for the first time ever, missed my stop.
I didn’t want to stand up, didn’t want to get away from what was happening, didn’t want to lose what I might have found.
But I knew the further away I got, the further that I would be away from home. The harder it would be to GET home.
So I stood up on shaky legs. Not knowing what had happened.
It was as if in an instant my life flipped. One moment of eye contact and I realized I hadn’t been seen in a long while. I walked out the doors of the train and turned around to glance back in the windows and say him, smiling tiredly, once more.
I hugged my bag tightly as the wind started to pick up. Fall was coming, a change was coming.
A change had come.
A change had come in the form of the unknown father sitting next to me.
I don’t know what I was going to do with that moment. A moment most would normally throw away and deem unimportant.
But I was going to do something.
But I knew I had to do something.