Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Strangers on the Train

It seems as if I want to accomplish everything that the cast of Real World, who are currently filming in town, are NOT accomplishing. Though, they seem to run a lot and that is more cardio than I have achieved since I arrived. While I'm here in Portland, I want to have fun but I am continuing my fight to make this world a better place. It is simply amazing how a simple "hello" can put a smile on someone's face.

I tried it, once I could breathe again, on the way down from a hike up Multnomah Falls with my roommates a couple weekends ago. I greeted those I passed with a "hello," a compliment, a word of endearment, a smile and a glimmer in my eye. I even made some folks laugh. Each reaction I received was a positive one. I also love doing this in the grocery store, recently making snide remarks about the price of frozen fish at Safeway.

Now, I wouldn't necessarily consider Portland an extremely diverse city but as I watch the different cultures in my Gresham neighborhood converge, I love it. Even though it's a rough neighborhood, I want to serve my communities, volunteer as much as I can and immerse myself into what different cultures there are, here in Gresham as well as Portland.

I want wave to children as I walk down the street and I want to make eye contact with strangers on the train. I want to be someone's Angel of the Day, everyday, like I find in people around me. I'm not perfect by any means and I may not always be the brightest star in the sky but I try to make people feel happy. I'm a team motivator, dammit all.

The other evening's ride home from the Q Center on the Tri Met, I sat in the middle of a circle of "real life."

To my right, a black man shouting the term "revolution!" and the phrase "I'm a deviant!"
In front of me, a mexican man tried to calm the passenger down.
To my left sat a half-spanish-half-white woman with two young boys. Hers?
A few rows even further in front of me, a guy, comparable to my age and race called The Deviant out for his lack of respect for the (assuming) mother's two sons. This instigated a comment about freedom of speech.
Suddenly, the attention was upon the young boys playing their old school Gameboys. I can't even remember what the crazy man was saying but I wondered if I should just exit the train on the next stop and wait the 20 minutes for another ride. Then, I realized that I was the only thing in between the kids and The Deviant. And for whatever reason, that made me stay aboard.

The Deviant stood up to go reek havoc at the other end of the train car and the Mexican man "secret-hand-shaked" me and apologized on behalf of The Deviant. I wondered if they were together. He switched seats to distract the boys from the craziness and made stupid jokes.

By this point, my music playing in my earbuds had ended but I pretended to bob my head to some non-existing tunes. When I did this, I actually heard the Mexican man, who I had previous felt like I understood the most, tell the children that The Deviant was the devil and to go home and to love their Mom and themselves because God is in their hearts. He actually then reached out and put his hand on the older brother's chest. If none of the above crossed the line, I felt like that gesture had.

They were more angry tones exchanged between the two original men I had sat down next to. I guess they weren't traveling together.

As we got closer to my stop and the cast of characters exited one by one, I was left sitting with The "Mother" to my left. I took out both earbuds and mouthed the words "are you okay?" hoping to bring some sanity to her train ride.

Her eye lids fluttered, she looked down and back into my eyes and lipped a simple, "yeah."

When I stepped on the train, upon first assessment of the situation, I had to bite my tongue from laughing. But by the time I got to my neighborhood stop, I was trying to make sense of it all, confused and kind of sad. Even now, I'm still not sure why what I had witnessed struck at my heart strings. It was a very "real" moment that I was a part of with strangers on the train and the way all walks of life are connected. I can only hope that I will eventually realize what instances like these are suppose to mean. Or maybe these moments are just for me to observe and to not understand.

After the ride though, I strolled through my rough little South East Gresham neighborhood to my house. I smiled at the old Russian woman who was watching her grandbaby play in the driveway and I waved to the spanish kids playing on the street.

With all this love in my heart, I just want to feel connected to people. I should be careful what I wish for next time.

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