i wish i didn't have this story to tell

Ever since my brother died, I do this thing whenever I get really nervous, sad, stressed or worried. I sort of ball up my hand and rest my thumbnail in the indents between my teeth. It's completely involuntary, and for a long time, I didn't know I was doing it, but I did it constantly. I'm now aware of it, I catch myself doing it, and it's rare that I get to that point these days.

This morning, I caught myself with my thumbnail between my two front teeth on my walk to work.

I don't want to tell this story. With every fiber of my being, I want to shove it under the surface and pretend it never happened. But it's eating at me, and so I'm going to tell it. For me. Just to get it out there so I can move on. And also because I committed to writing portraits of people who give me seats on the train while I'm pregnant. But mostly this is just for me to clear my head.

I boarded a crowded PATH train this morning around 8:30. I stood in front of a group of two seats, both filled. A couple, mid-20's, looked like they were in a discussion. It was only a moment, though, before she noticed me and got up. He immediately said he was sorry, he didn't see me there. I really looked at them then, him sitting in the seat and her standing up. Neither of them looked like they were really focusing on anything. He made a couple of rude comments about how she could have been pregnant, too, by him or his friends. She told him to shut up. I didn't catch all the details, because I had my headphones on.

By this point, I was trying to ignore them; it was obvious to me that they were wasted on something. She dressed for a night out in a mini-skirt, leggings, belly shirt and large gold cross necklace, I admit I wondered what they were doing on their way to the WTC stop with all the commuters.

A minute later, she leaned toward me and said "Journal Square, right?" Journal Square is a stop further out in NJ, not toward Manhattan, where the train was heading. I took off my headphones and explained to her how to get off and transfer to the right train at the next stop.

She said okay. Then began grabbing the train handle and flinging it as hard as she could back and forth, yelling loudly about the fucking new jersey trains, fucking ridiculous, can't fucking figure them out, she was born and fucking bred in new york city. On and on. And berating him about taking them on the wrong train.

They were far gone and putting on a show. Their eyes were out of focus and their complexions were pasty and unhealthy.

This enrages me more than anything. To flaunt your dangerous and unhealthy habits in front of me is a slap in the face. I wrapped my arm around my belly and focused on the baby, ignoring them. I drew on the need to protect myself and the baby and I kept my mouth shut. But it took everything I had, and I mean everything, not to yell at them. Tell them my brother died of a drug overdose and if they didn't clean up their act and respect themselves, they would too. Tell them they have no idea what they're doing to themselves and they're assholes for not protecting the lives they've been given.

I kept silent. It's not my place to put myself out there like that right now, and it's not my business what other people do to themselves. But it's still not okay. It's just not.

They got off at the next stop to catch the right train and it went quiet.


EDH said...

I'm really sorry, Amy. That must have been so tough.

I feel similarly whenever I see people driving and texting, or talking about how they got in a fender bender and are so irritated they have to get their bumper fixed, or something. I understand that car accidents are inconvenient and cost money, but it enrages me that people focus on whining about that when they should be thankful to be alive.

Hugs to you...

Anonymous said...

Amy - I can feel your rage through your writing - keep writing. You have much to say to the world and you always say IT so very well, so very well that I always have a vivid picture in my mind. Somehow I know that your writing could become a book that would be meaningful to MANY and a tribute to your beloved brother, our Gregory. Love, Auntie Patty
PS - Maybe you need to feed Turkey some ice cream to soothe him/her from these awful train rides!

maresi said...

That must have felt so, so bad. I'm sorry you were faced with such criminal idiocy. I love you and wish I could give you a hug.

Elena said...

I'm sorry that you have to see these things and feel such pain, when most people might not give them a second thought.

Major hugs and sympathy.

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