I’m not from around here . . .

That’s what the woman on the train said later. And I’m still thinking about that. A lot.

Earlier, as I waited at my stop for the MAX train, I sat on the bench in the same–always the same–seat. I pray here most days, and once at night. But this time my prayer was set, so I watched and waited. That is what we often do, must do perhaps, after our prayers. And before and during our prayers, as it is all timeless, and prayer is all of life. We also watch and wait for our train to come in to our stop. Or our ship to arrive in our port, or to rescue us along the way . . .

A garbage truck was approaching, traveling south on Fifth Avenue. I have seen garbage and its trucks moving slowly along Fifth Avenue in NYC, in Manhattan, in full view of exclusive, prohibitively expensive purveyors of puerile products. To the increasingly large one percent, they are must-get-one-because-I-don’t-have-one “goods.” Yet, those trucks are the same, and that garbage is the same in Manhattan as in Portland. Even on Fifth Avenue.

Here, with a store full of books to my back, and a seedy-esque motel (beside a Catholic Church parking lot bordered by grape vines) in front, the truck rumbled toward me and slowly passed me. But behind it, remaining a steady ten meters behind that truck, was a single piece of white trash. There is no such kind of human! But, this was something from a human, a cast-off take-out container of some sort, and I thought that it was tied to the truck. It was moving at a constant rate of speed, but motionless relative to the truck, and I believed it was attached by a cord, such was its constancy. But then, I felt the breeze and it dawned on me that the singular object was caught in the current, swept into the slipstream behind the mound of refuse in the truck. I watched and waited, with a smile, as it all passed before my eyes. That one thing, it SO wanted to be part of the whole again, to be where it belonged, to be with, to be back home.

And I thought: you stunningly beautiful piece of used cardboard, garbage of grace, you inhabit a realm beyond fifth avenue, where you cannot be bought. You do make me smile. You are tethered by the wind, and you will get home.

Then my train arrived. I sauntered through the door, and what’s this? Today my morning seat was taken, and my evening seat, always the same (my world is the same, if ever the seat is not), was vacant.

No, not the same now, my world. Everything is different. Better. I sat and settled into the evening at 6:39 in the morning, watching and waiting. And listening.

The woman was two meters across the aisle in my usual morning seat and talking aloud to someone elsewhere. She spoke of space and time. And then a ship or vessel. Then NASA. Then “they” were in control, controlling even her body functions. Graphically, she spoke of oozing green fluids, of contemptible things outside convention, but common crap to all creatures. I love this new world, I thought, and I glanced at her, and with a nod of my head, I greeted her and her dark, painted-dark, eyes, and her black horns fashioned of felt, attached with a black string to her head, covered in black unkempt and free hair. Priceless, on my fifth avenue.

“They’re in control and we are going to have a shutdown in communications,” she said directly to me. Ha, I’ve been there I thought, and said, “I don’t doubt you.”

Then she asked if I knew downtown, and yeah I do, I said. You are going away from, not toward downtown. Well, what I really need is a Walmart. Oh dear God, thank you, I muttered into the sky, growing in light. It was increasing in lightness, the sky and everything, moment by moment. I told her I think the nearest Walmart is across the river on the east side around 82nd. Not sure. Ok, well I need to go downtown first, anyway.

“I’m not from around here.”

“I gathered that,” I said, grinning into her eyes.

I told her to get off at the next stop, reverse direction for a short distance, and she would arrive at her . . . destination. She got up, collected her bags, and when the doors opened, she turned to me. “Remember, they are going to completely shut us down; they are in control.”

“Yeah, we need to be ready for that shutdown.”

She tilted her head slightly, paused with depth and sincerity, and replied, “Thank you . . .

She went somewhere, I am sure.  And we all will, of that I am even more sure. Let us watch and wait and listen and learn, and most of all love. Let us love, love until that shutdown happens, and together we get where we are going.

 

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