Yesterday, on the 83 bus (yes, the very same soggy sardine 83 which we may as well rename the where-all-things-happen-83), there was a guy in the back talking to himself. OK, really more like babbling incoherently.
It’s one thing to babble discreetly. But this was not that. And I was seriously annoyed.
WTF, I thought, why me!
Is there nowhere in this city a sensitive girl can get some peace and quiet? thought the sensitive girl with a short memory of a lovely nap she’d just hours before taken in the sun under a birch tree in a hidden courtyard of said noisy city.
So there I was feeling sorry for self.
And then, with some smidgen of willingness I can only call grace, I sunk just past the annoyance and there, in the midst of noise noise noise, I began what ended up looking a whole lot like:
Bonding with a babbling fool
That’s right. I looked for what we might have in common. And from there, as things are wont to do, one thing led to another thing to another…
I found that he certainly had a mother. Maybe a mom that at that very moment wondered where he was, hoping he was OK.
Maybe he wondered what he’d have for dinner when he got home. I thought about the brownie in my bag.
Maybe he too thought the 83 sure does take a freaking long time to come! I’m with you, babbling brother.
Maybe he found this world a bit hard to take at times. Oh man, can I ever feel you there!
Somewhere along the way my imagination game became a matter of heart. And as his sounds became louder, faster and god-help-us-feverish, I imagined any number of things his sounds might be about.
Some girl who broke his heart.
Some plan of all plans gone awry.
I had no idea, of course, but it didn’t matter. By the end of my ride, all I could really find different between this babbling fool and me was that he gives his stuff a voice, a sound, whereas I tend to keep my mental chatter and drivel locked up inside my dear innocent head. Basically:
Babbling man, me: same, same.
I’d be lying to say I wasn’t relieved to get off the bus, but relating to this man allowed what would have been an insufferable 15 minutes to be bearable, in the least. Maybe even, good.
Good? Yeah, I got off with a smidgen more patience. And patience? Huge. HUGE.
In case you couldn’t tell: I am not one of those people that always walk around seeing the world through rose glasses. Oh no. In any given funk, truth be told, I look at a glass and see not only half empty but also the smudge that you missed while cleaning it. And the crack that is bound to happen sooner or later. Pro’bly tomorrow. And you’ll probably step on the broken glass too. (OK, I exaggerate. Writing license. But still.)
Lately I have been going head to head with my cynicism. Impatience. Paranoia. Suspicions galore. Envies. It’s enough to bring a girl who cares a whole lot about love and beauty and kindness to desperation. Even curiosity about all this wasn’t giving me much relief.
A few weeks ago, visiting my dear friend Lizi in Vermont, I happened to be on what can best be described as a horrible bender of cynicism that even the fresh Spring air of Vermont was not loosening. Not even Lizi’s adorable baby Isabelli was putting much of a dent in my misery. I was doing my best to keep it to myself, not being, after all, one of those incoherent loud babblers, but the more socially acceptable thank you very much keep-it-to-yourself kind.
But two days into my visit I broke down. I cried about how even in such a beautiful place and even doing the best a girl freaking could, I felt so scared. Life sucked. I knew it was all about my thoughts, but goddamn! All I could see, everywhere, was what was wrong, including with me: demanding, picky and critical. To utter anything that was good, would have been utterly fake and pretend. Lizi
Never, ever underestimate listening.
She was utterly present but said not much at all. (Which was huge: her not trying to fix me. Her not inviting me to “just shift my perception.”)
A while and a bunch of tears later I said: “the only good thing I can find in all this is that it softens my heart toward the tight-assed, the demanding, the perfectionists, the fascistas of the world.”
To which she simply lifted a brow and chuckled softly: “well, there you go.”