Waiting for a train III.2

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Lorraine handed me her business card and said, “Look Sean, if that interview doesn’t work out give me a call. I may have an interesting proposition for you.”  I must have had a funny expression on my face because she smirked and said, ” No, not that kind of proposition.”

“What?”, I asked, totally embarrassed. “I wasn’t thinking that! I was just realizing that while you pumped me for my life story I know next to nothing about you?”

She winked and replied, “Trick of the trade, give me a call! Maybe we can meet for a martini before your trip back to Philly tonight.” Ah and she picked up on my one remaining vice, my evening martini. Why did I even tell her that?

“Whoa”, I said surprised by the suggestion, “I’d have to run that one by my wife. I don’t think she would appreciate me meeting a beautiful woman who I just met on a train for a drink. Besides I’m looking for a job I can’t afford to go out for anything more than a coffee in this town.”

She tried to hide a blush, “My treat, and strictly business Mister!”, she said with a second wink as we parted the train. She extended her hand, we shook and both disappeared into the hustle and bustle that is so distinctly New York City.

As interesting as she was I would definitely not be meeting her for a drink. Why would I? I’ve met a lot of interesting people I wouldn’t dream of engaging socially. What did she mean by having a proposition for me? Was there a job offer? Truth is she was a bit intimidating. I couldn’t put my finger squarely on it but there was something.

All around me strangers pushed and paraded on with their busy journeys. My ears were met with a barrage of words and sounds that I did not recognize. English was not the primary language that was being shouted into the cell phones that everyone seemed to have sewn to their palms.

Quickly I scanned the signs for my exit. I saw it straight ahead and moved in that direction. NYC, though truly amazing, was not my favorite place in the world. The hustling, bustling and clamoring was total sensory overload to me. I was getting frazzled by the chaos in the station not to mention by the impending job interview and Lorraine’s forward proposition. I was in semi shock and making my way out of the station when I heard a faint ringing which turned out to be my cell phone. Welcome to the big apple. Get on the phone and be a part of it, New York, New York.

I saw Bernadette’s name on my android screen and smiled. “Hi Bernie! How are you?”

“I’m good Sean, how are you? Are you in New York yet? How was the train ride?”

“Just got here. I’m fine! Strange experience on the train. I’ll fill you in later. This city is absolutely crazy. People are swarming like an army of disorganized, drunken ants!”

“I know! I bet they are, you know I love that city! I wish I could be with you. Listen, relax Sean.” she said as she began to sense my anxiety. “If you are uptight the interview might be a waste. You deserve this job Sean. You are super qualified! Just relax and let your experience speak for you. Your reputation and your resume will speak volumes about you”

“Ok Bernadette, I’m trying to relax but I’m in a crush of people. I’ll text from Starbucks in a few minutes, then we can talk”.

“Sean I have a meeting with Ben in ten minutes about a photo shoot we are doing this weekend. Just text me when you are settled at Starbucks and then we’ll talk after the interview. Good luck Sean! I love you.”

“Shit! Do you have to work this weekend! We were supposed to go hiking. Did you forget?”

“No Sean I didn’t forget! Jesus! This is a last minute high value shoot. A very high value shoot and Ben is begging me. I told him we had plans. He said he would make it up to us next weekend with an overnight downtown. You know Sean at that new B&B he is involved with.”

“Oh my god! I don’t want to be in the city. We were going to be in the fresh air in the Pocono’s chilling and de-compressing. We’ve been looking forward to this for weeks.”

“I know Sean. Look lets talk later. My meeting is in five minutes now and I want to use the bathroom real quick.”

“Hey Bernie, you called me! Ok, love you. We’ll talk later but I am bummed.”

“Okay Sean, love you! Bye”

“Bye, love you too.” I shoved my phone back in my jacket pocket and after a short walk found my way to the Starbucks across the street from my interview.

I looked at my cell phone for the time and ordered a decaf coffee. I couldn’t take being any more jittery. There wasn’t as much time as originally anticipated but at least I wasn’t going to be late.

In my smugness, I had the urge to text “I told you so” to my brother, but I refrained.

I sipped on my decaf and looked over my resume and the details of the interview and job description.

I tried to concentrate but my mind kept going back to Bernadette. She and her brother are borderline workaholics but Bernie knows how to have fun when she wasn’t working.

Ben built an incredible photography business to supplement his artistic photography aspirations. So incredible that it is robbing all of his valuable time from his creative endeavors. He got so busy that he asked his sister Bernie to come to work for him part time. She jumped at the opportunity because we saw the writing on the wall with my job. Little by little it was becoming more full time. She enjoyed the work and she got tp run elbows with some local celebrities. The are always updating their head shots and promo materials.

I started to come to my senses a bit. Disappointment at not going to the mountains was not the end of the world and I knew she would make it up to me. Besides an overnight in Philly will be fun. We can go to the Art Museum on Friday night, stroll along the Schuylkill River Trail and stop into our favorite “speakeasy” afterwords.

It’s nice to have something to look forward to and with Bernie there is never a dull moment. She plays as hard as she works! Sometimes she exhausts me or as she likes to say “keeps me young”.

Okay, really now, I should be concentrating on my interview preparation.

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Waiting for a train V

I didn’t always believe in things like mindfulness and mantras. In fact even now, in weaker moments, I have to resist the cynic in me that thinks it’s all bullshit.

My brother had arranged for me to meet with Thomas Water a well-respected mindfulness facilitator while I was in New York.  Maybe he had a premonition that I would need one since the job interview didn’t go as well as I hoped. I went there several hours after my job interview with Security Concepts.

Mr. Wallace, the interviewer with Security Concepts, informed me that forty people had applied for the position and that ten of them, including myself, were offered interviews. The odds were not good especially because I felt friction between the interviewer and me. He was overdressed and I was intimidated by his bright red tie. It seemed to me the psychological equivalent of a stop sign. I would have much preferred green.. He was seated in a huge leather chair behind a desk so wide that I felt like I almost was in another room. I had no clue if he liked me or thought I was qualified. I couldn’t wait to get out of that stuffy office.  So, needless to say, I was hoping to shed some of the stress and tension at the mindfulness session and a martini was out of the question with the prices in Manhattan. I had no intention of calling Lorraine and even if I did have a drink with her she would not be paying. Call me stupid, call me old school.

Setting my inner skeptic aside or at least trying, I now find myself following my guides directions and sitting upright with my eyes closed and my feet flat on the ground paying attention to my breath flowing in and flowing out. Thomas Water had a soft, soothing voice. Listening to his instructions was so very easy, following them was a little more challenging. Allowing thoughts to pass like leaves falling gently from a tree to the ground. Not trying to avoid them but allowing them to pass without paying particular attention to any single one. Letting them fall as my attention more deeply immerses itself into the present moment and the flowing of my breath, deeply and slowly in and then out.

It is not as easy as it sounds especially with the avalanche of leaves screaming for my attention. The disturbing morning news, the cold interview,  last nights petty argument, tomorrows bills to be paid, each spinning vibrantly competing for dominance on its graceful flutter past my attention span.

Are all people as utterly distracted as me? Or it part of the human condition or is it just a malady of some? I don’t remember being this distracted when I was younger.  Many people appear to be so calm and focused. I want to be like that! When my brain never stops it is mentally and physically exhausting.

So I begin to focus on my breathing again, checking in with the alignment of my spine and trying again to remember my mantra. Shit! How easily I am distracted!

I don’t know exactly when I became so cynical but I guess it was an easy turn to make for a dead-end city kid. The streets were as mean as they could be and if you were out on them long enough they could swallow you up. If you were vulnerable or god forbid innocent, it was best if you stayed home with mom. Not that you couldn’t find love and friendship or kindness and tenderness out there. It was there too, just sometimes with a kiss on your lips and a knife in your back.  Honestly, I think, compared to what is happening on the streets in American cities right now we were angels. Maybe it is simply a matter of scale. More people, more opportunity, easy access to guns, more crime, kids will be kids.

Breathe.

I had it easier than many kids in my neighborhood. I had two parents at home one of whom had a steady, if paltry, income. They were mostly at home although for my dad home extended to the Irish taproom on the corner. Still, I knew where to find him if absolutely needed.

My family wasn’t very religious but I was sent to Catholic school all the same. Both of my parents went to Catholic school and probably their parents too, though I’m not certain of that. Even though no one could actually afford the small tuition, it was just something everyone did in South Philly at the time. It seemed like everyone was a Catholic in the neighborhood. The school went broke educating the bunch of us. Nobody paid full tuition even though it was less than a hundred dollars a year per student. It was good to be Catholic you could commit larceny Sunday through Friday, confess it on Saturday and walk away with a soul as pure white as a glass of milk.

Breathe.

I lost my faith when my father died, the summer after 6th grade. I stopped believing in god because he wouldn’t bring my dad back to life. So stupid of me, I know, but that is pretty much how it happened. I guess I didn’t really expect my dad to rise up out of the coffin but something important started to crumble down when he didn’t. I prayed and begged god to bring him back. He didn’t. I lost the sense of life having purpose and meaning. I sensed the total randomness of death and of life although at that age I could never put it into words. The orderliness and fairness that I believed in escaped like air from a burst balloon.

It was like a switch was flipped. One day I was a devout god fearing catholic and the next day I didn’t believe in god. I stopped paying attention to the priests and nuns completely. A kind priest tried to comfort me by saying that the heavenly father called my dad back home to heaven but I knew the cigarettes and alcohol sent him to an early grave and if there was a god he/she probably didn’t even know or care if dad was dead or alive. It was a simple math problem for me. There are just too many humans for a heavenly being to keep track of. Do the math!

Breathe.

I’m not a hard-core atheist anymore. More of a look at the wonder of the universe agnostic. The planet, the people, so much on earth is so utterly beautiful and perfect, so flawless for random big bangness. Or is it? I mean I know it happened but why? What put it into motion out of nothingness?

Situational evolution, survival of the fittest are powerful undeniable forces. Once life is created even a god cannot control the laws of nature.  Laws are laws, especially if they had divine origins. There is always the simple but nagging question…what came first the chicken or the egg?

Don’t let anyone tell you they know the answer to the truly unanswerable questions. Who are we? Why are we here? Where did we come from? Why? There are many that will tell you about this or that god but they don’t know. We are all in the same boat. I’m a big fan of science but even that doesn’t explain everything, at least not yet.

A little mystery is good! I kind of subscribe to the “we are all connected” theory. Sometimes I think about Bernadette and she calls me. Of course you may be thinking that it is pure co-incidence, and it may be. It happens so often. On occasion she knows what I am thinking or I know what she is thinking. I guess since we’ve been together for so long we are so very attuned to each other that this type of connection is not only natural but common and predictable. Still, today I thought of someone from work, someone I barely know, and moments later the phone rang. I got a chill when I heard his voice.

Sometimes when I held one of my children in my arms and peered into their beautiful innocent eyes I felt such a sense of wonder and such a magnetic pull.  I felt something much bigger than me, something that I understood completely on one level and not at all on another one. I felt like I was gazing into their untarnished and unfiltered soul. It was a connection so deep and so real that it felt like a religious experience. I felt like the little boy who at one time believed wholeheartedly in god. When I was holding our baby in our humble little home, maybe sitting with Bernadette while she was reading a book or catching up on her work, I felt a completeness that I had never known in my life. I began to feel that life had meaning and purpose again.

Still, knowing that these feelings can be explained away by understanding our human instincts and the desire to advance our species. My cynicism began to soften dramatically. To the point that I began to think maybe there is a higher power, just because I don’t understand it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Should I deny rocket science just because my little brain doesn’t understand it?

That would be just as silly as not believing in god for not waking my father from eternal rest. I don’t care. How do we explain falling in love, a preference for strawberry ice cream over vanilla or chocolate. For that matter how do we explain feelings, premonitions, human beings need for music and art?

You can probably see why I might need a mantra to settle my racing mind. I tried to put on a good show for the zen master, but he saw right through it. He was very warm and understanding and I liked him a lot. Pity he lived in New York, he told me he visited Philly frequently and would be happy to meet me there to continue our work.

All I was trying to do was anchor my attention to my breath. Next time maybe I’ll buy a newspaper or a magazine instead of burdening you with my trivialities. That’s what I said in my mind to Bernadette as I imagined her reading my thoughts. Truth is, I was dreading telling her about the interview. She would be happy I meet with the mindfulness teacher.

Breathe. Breathe and breathe again.

 

Waiting for a Train IV

Bernadette Martin, I liked her from the moment I first met her. It is that simple. It was at a First Friday in Olde City Philadelphia at a photography exhibit on a funky side street near Betsy Ross’s house. I almost didn’t go but some friends from college that I hadn’t seen in several years arranged a get together. It was to go out for dinner in Chinatown like we always did when living in West Philly during college days. The purpose was mainly to support one of our former classmates whose amazing photographs were on display. I had almost forgotten that this was the night we were meeting but I received two reminder phone calls. I was notorious for not showing up for things.

My classmate Ben Martin, a really fine photographer, turned out to be my future wife’s brother. I never knew much about his family, except that he had brothers and sisters and that he grew up in the Philly suburbs. My friends kept hounding me to go and I was a bit ambivalent about it. Ben was a good guy and I knew I would enjoy his work and I hadn’t seen any of the crew for months and months.  I’m so glad I agreed to join them.

Bernadette was pretty, not in a flashy way but maybe somewhat like a lovely daisy that needed no adornment. She was eating an apple when I met her. Since then I’ve never seen a gala apple without smiling and thinking of her. We were introduced as she was taking a bite. Smiling, chewing and shifting the apple to her left hand and reaching out to shake my hand she looked right into my eyes and said “I’m so pleased to meet you” in a way that made me believe it. “Excuse my munching” she said as she wiped her mouth, “I haven’t eaten a thing today. I rushed to work this morning and rushed here afterwards to help Ben with some last-minute setting up”. “Thank god for these apples”, she said holding it up in the air to admire it before she took another bite.

“Why don’t you come to Chinatown with us after the show”? I offered. “I believe Ben is coming”.

“That sounds great”, she accepted

She had an inner vibe that auto corrected any slight imperfection someone might find like the small scar under her left eye that I never even noticed until possibly our second or third meeting.  Her hair was a thick light brown with darker and then lighter streaks of auburn highlights. If she wore any make up it was so simple and subtle I couldn’t tell. Friendly and warm almost bubbly but with an easy self-assured manner, and so it is true, opposites attract. I am introverted and nervous, she was extroverted yet calm. I liked to read and dabble in arts, she did also but she was much more athletic than me. She had some artistic talents as well; small watercolor paintings were her specialty. She called them watercolor haikus. Using no more than three colors and minimum strokes she created what I called her “tiny masterpieces”. She would roll her eyes and say “Oh Sean, you need to have your eyes checked”.

Bernadette ran. She loved running. For fun she took ballet and yoga classes but running was her thing. She even got me into it, I didn’t particularly like running but I loved the way I felt when I was done. My nervousness would settle and the negative voices in my head were at their quietest. Mainly, I did it so that I could be with her. I loved to watch her run. We would start out together but quickly I would start losing my breath and begin to start lagging behind. She ran with total abandon like there was nothing in the world except her legs gliding down the road. Many times I would trip and barely stay up because I had my eyes firmly planted on her tight body and beautiful muscular legs. Even though she was 5′ 6″ her legs seemed to go on for a country mile. When she would slow down and stop I gradually caught up and after we caught our breath I would grab her and kiss her and she would laugh and push me away.

“Sean I’m disgusting, get off of me”, she would laugh and say. I would grab her again and kiss her deeply and this time she wouldn’t resist. She would return my kiss whole hardheartedly pressing into me from knees to face, salty sweat to salty sweat. Beautiful Bernadette would shove me away laughing even harder and say, “You stink Sean Baxter”, as she ran away making me chase her.

“You can’t kiss me if you can’t catch me”. I would start charging after her but I was barely recovered from our run and I didn’t stand a chance.

It didn’t matter because we would go back to her apartment or mine take a shower together and make love. Our running adventures on the weekends almost always ended like this and it was sublime. After running I was almost as calm as Bernadette. She taught me to be slow and gentle. Up until then making love, for me, was a race to the finish line. Not that I had a lot of sexual partners, I hadn’t. There was a steady girlfriend in my teens, and one failed attempt at sex with a sweet neighborhood girl when I was fourteen. Embarrassingly for me, it ended before it started because of my over stimulation. She seemed relieved and later I wondered if, like me, she was a virgin. We never talked about it, just pulled on our clothes and went to a corner store for a soda. There was also a homosexual encounter when I was seven or eight years old that, later, I realized was the defining moment in my life when I discovered I was straight. He was at least five years older than me and I was angry and hurt by what he succeeded in doing to me. He tried to get me alone again but I avoided him at all costs. Somehow I always blamed myself for what happened. I never told a soul until I met Bernadette. She had a way of making me open up and say things that I would never talk about.

I was extremely jealous when Bernadette talked about former boyfriends. I pretended it didn’t bother me but sometimes my face would get beet red and she didn’t miss it.  She had a lot more experience than me and sometimes she would try to tease me with it. She actually enjoyed my jealousy. She would look at me intensely when telling me about one of her escapades and burst out laughing when I would start squirming uncomfortably and getting flushed.

I would sometimes lay awake at night and get so worked up imagining her with another guy. The thought of her even kissing someone else drove me absolutely mad. It was so immature but I didn’t know how to control it. After a while and after she agreed to marry me the obsession subsided, but I still get incredibly jealous if I dwell on the images that sometimes play in my mind.

Bernadette has a magnetic personality and the better you get to know her, the more attractive she becomes. I’m not the only one who saw this. Some of her good friends observed the same patterns. She was loved by many and her friends enjoyed her immensely. Co-workers and acquaintances seemed to always be falling in love with her. She enjoyed the attention and would, intentionally or unintentionally flirt a bit but she never let it go beyond that. The attention that she paid to people was genuine and sincere and it came through. Sometimes people misinterpreted her attention and began to desire her affection as well. Through the years she has learned to let people down gently. Since we’ve been married, several guys, three to be exact, (but who’s counting?), and even one young lady wrote love letters to her or tried wooing Bernadette in other ways. She showed the letters to me and I would go ballistic. I was so jealous my ears were burning. She would laugh and say, “Oh Sean, I should have torn it up but I would feel a little dishonest not telling you about it. I didn’t think you would want to actually read it! Sean I feel bad for him”, or “he is a really sweet guy, he doesn’t mean any harm. I told him that he should know that I’m not available.” In a totally unguarded moment she said, “I love when you get jealous! It makes me feel loved and powerful. I know it is wrong of me but I’ve never felt so much love as when I see your face get flush with jealousy. Sean I would never ever hurt you. I love you. They may want me, but you have me. I can’t change my personality. I’m not even sure what I’m doing. I’m just being myself. You are the only man I love and the only one for me. How many times do I have to tell you until you get it? Now come here and kiss me”.

The Cusp of Now

The Cusp of Now

I feel it completely.
At last!
A glimpse of myself
Standing on the cusp of now
Letting thoughts lost on
disappearing yesterday vaporize
Letting moments lost on
unknowable tomorrow slip away,
drip away,
Surrendering,
Like wax
Where candle meets flame
A glimpse of eternity
Standing on the Cusp of Now

Jeopardize

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/jeopardize/”>Jeopardize</a&gt;

Will he jeopardize all he has and bravely stare into the tyrannical face of fear?  Will he reach down deep and challenge half truths and lies falling upon his ears? Or simply nod and wink, have another drink and sort of comfortably while away the years?

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Nothing done, no need to explain. Flying under the radar, biding time. Learning to unthink, retraining the mind.

Will he roll over, fall back to sleep or jump out of bed and take another leap?Courage! Jeopardize!

Waiting for a Train III

When the train finally arrived and it looked like I would make my appointment I breathed a major sigh of relief. Now we boarded fairly easily and quickly and I found a seat next to a woman who looked to be in her mid-thirties. “Is this seat taken?”  I asked. “Does it look like it is taken?” she replies with a friendlier half smirk than her words implied. “I’m sorry”, she smiled as she spoke, “Sit down, please. You look a whole lot more pleasant than the oaf I had to sit with from D.C. to Wilmington.” She had an easy manner. Well dressed in business attire, suit jacket and skirt, light brown hair, longish and neatly coiffed. She said that her name was Lorraine and effortlessly uncovered that mine was Sean. I was not really interested in talking but she had such an easy manner about her that made me relax and almost willingly join in the conversation. First she told me about the guy that sat next to her earlier. He was rather large and overweight smelling like a combination of body odors and stale cigarettes. His arms, side, and butt spilled generously into Lorraine’s seating area. “He should have to pay for part of my ticket”, was her thinking. She tried to be grown up and relax, and then she caught a whiff of this guy and had to stand up, excuse herself and squeeze by “Mr. Hygiene” to look for another seat. Unfortunately there was standing room only and she couldn’t possibly stand the whole way to New York City. She was not shy so she walked back to her seat and asked, “Excuse me sir but would you mind sliding over to the window seat?” “Oh no!” he quickly replied, “I am claustrophobic and I cannot possibly sit on the inside, very sorry, but no way”. Lorraine said, “You, sir, are making me claustrophobic and unless you are willing to pay for the half of my seat you are taking up, you are going to have to move to the window seat”. He protested but she finally convinced or should I say, cajoled, him to move over by getting louder and louder and more and more insulting. “When was the last time you took a bath pal? Have you heard of a toothbrush?” “Jesus!” he finally said as he struggled to stand and switch seats, “take the goddamned seat lady.” She placed a folded newspaper between her and the oaf so as not to come into direct contact and sat down.

 

As she was telling me this story I glanced down several times to make sure I wasn’t encroaching upon her space. I am leaning towards five or so pounds overweight, since hurting my leg and taking a break from running but thankfully I was surely within the boundaries of my seat. At just under six feet I feel slightly cramped in a typical train seat. Lorraine, several inches shorter, slim and fit looked quite comfortable in her reclaimed window seat now. The conductor stopped by to punch my ticket and lingered a little longer than necessary looking at Lorraine’s legs. “Seriously?” she said glaring at the conductor. “Oh sorry Ma’am I was daydreaming, been a long day.”

 

I was actually planning to review and organize my thoughts to prepare for my interview, but I was enjoying the distraction. She was very different than many of the people that I have known. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I am not a great judge of character so I wondered what my wife would think of her, what my brother would think of her. Assertive but not pushy, relaxed in her own skin, unlike me. I measure every word I say. The filter mechanism is so ingrained I don’t even realize it is happening anymore. When or why my guard went up I’m not sure. My brother, who is almost ten years older than me, always maintains that I was a most spontaneous and care free adolescent. According to him I would sometimes blurt things out that would embarrass me or others but mostly I unabashedly spoke my mind, revealing my feelings. He asserted that around thirteen, maybe fourteen, I became quiet and contemplative. Right or wrong I disagreed; I feel it was a more gradual change, one brick at a time, until I was surrounded. Throughout my later years I’ve been cautiously trying to remove the wall but it is an even slower more incremental process than building the wall. Instead of panicking I’m starting to use breathing techniques and meditation to keep me sane through the process. The fleeting times when I’ve felt so incredibly alive were experienced with my wife especially when we first met and were inseparable. I had never felt my heart pound, like it did, with the anticipation of waiting to see her, the total and complete abandonment to passion and unselfish pleasure when we were wrapped in each other’s arms. Then later, the other side of the coin, my blood rushing to my head in jealousy when I found out another was pursuing her. Well, the point is, I guess, if there ever is an actual point to anything, I began feeling emotion again. It was kind of an emotional new beginning. Still in most aspects of my life I was living in a most guarded way.

 

In my youth I felt that something was wrong with me as I stumbled around trying to find out who I was and what made me tick. I didn’t feel I was good at any of my pursuits. I tried playing musical instruments, drawing, poetry and no innate talents emerged. These arts eluded my abilities yet I was intensely drawn to them, especially creative writing. Sadly, it seemed, I was more skilled in the practical arts of the city streets, like fighting and stealing. I fact, these skills came in very handy growing up in South Philly, but looking back I wonder if it was just more bricks in my growing wall. I must say I came to life and felt every fiber of my being and tingled with emotion when I was in a fist fight, talk about being in the moment. Fear and bravado converged in a stance, a stare, a sneer, a violent flurry of punches, stepping in, stepping back, swinging, ducking, blocking, and landing an upper cut. Laughing, standing victorious shaking as the violence dissipated out of every pore. Or, as often happened, lying in a bruised heap, on the ground in defeat, beaten and spent was still an emotionally charged event. Looking back I am so embarrassed and ashamed by the way I was. How the streets began to take hold of me and shape me into something so reprehensible, so unrecognizable to who I am today. This is what sometimes happens to inner city kids without fathers or structure or discipline. With emotional and psychological gaps waiting to be filled by whatever city life had to offer a poor kid. The streets can have much sway and can fill any empty spaces with booze, drugs and crime, but I digress.

 

She asked what I did for a living and without much effort found out why I was going to the “big apple”. I told her about my job interview. She got uncharacteristically quiet and listened intently while I sketched for her, in general terms, how I ended up next to her on this train to NYC.