Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Into the Sun

                                                       The Journey Begins                                        May 2012

Often, it is difficult to tell exactly where a story begins and ultimately, one never really knows where it will end. Does my journey begin where one seemingly ends? Does my story begin with my birth? Or did my story really begin when I left my home in Melrose to dare to be things, and do things, I thought I never could? Does it begin at that stage in my life when I began to feel a deeper more intellectual connection to my surroundings? I guess I could say it was that particular passage of time, that reawakening, which has driven me to begin to write once again. I am now more at peace with my life, more spiritual, more intelligent, more in tune with this planet, and with my sense of self than ever before. I find that I am more aware of how all the things that I touch, or see, or feel, are connected to my deeper sense of self, and, to each other. I know now that these past three years, that process, that growth, has ultimately prepared me for not only this amazing adventure that am about to embark upon, but for the rest of my life: no matter where that life may lead. There are many layers to each of us. To each of our lives. They exist like rings within a tree, brush strokes upon a canvas, or notes in a song. Each one of us contains within ourselves, and within our personal journeys, layer upon layer of…stories. So I guess, for all intent and purposes, my journey, this story, starts today. It begins with a simple ride to the train station from my best friend, and simple encounter between two simple, beautiful people.

Into the Sun

His name was Willie, and his skin had a sheen to it like the blackest of coal. He walked slowly up the train tracks pulling his maroon bag along behind him. She sat upon the bench waiting patiently for the train, squinting into the sunshine and watching as Willie approached. He looked her way and she gave him a quick nod and a smile. He returned her greeting with a grin and a slight tip of his hat. Silently she removed her bags from the bench beside her and offered him a seat. Again he grinned as he sat down holding his back and declaring aloud that, “these old bones are not what they used to be lil sister.” She nodded in understanding. Soon, they began to speak. Gently at first. Then, with a deeper familiarity: as if they had been friends from times long since gone. After a time their voices took on a character and a vigor of two people who loved to tell tales. They began to weave. Not tales just about the weather, but about trains, journeys and soon to be destinations. About family and friends and past transgressions. He spoke with the lilt of a black man raised in the Deep South. He spoke of the memories which hung in his mind like a mist that shimmered and glowed in the early morning sun. She spoke with a southern drawl that she had garnered from her years living in Florida, but which also hid her true background; that of her upbringing in great white north. The differences between the two were apparent. But, there they sat. He with his steely black skin and curly white hair. Her with her white skin, browned by the sun, her hair bleached by the sea. He spoke of his mother who was now over 100 years old, who had lived in a time when whites and blacks didn’t share benches at train stations. She spoke of a time when, while growing up, she had never even seen a black man. Differences abound, but there was a deeper, more palatable connection which they left unspoken. They sat. Comfortable in the silent pauses, he occasionally checked his watch, she listened intently, straining to see if she could hear the sound of the train clicking down the tracks, or hear the distant call of the train's whistle floating across the countryside. Eventually, she reached into her rucksack and pulled out a plastic box filled with sweet, ripe strawberries. She opened them, gave them a glance, then offered the first pick to Willie. He hesitated just a moment, and then picked the biggest, ripest, sweetest, strawberry in the bunch. She smiled up at him, nodded, and carefully chose a berry for herself. They sat quietly then. Two people sitting on a bench at a train station, munching happily on the fresh field ripened berries, enjoying each others company, listening for the train and squinting...into the sun.

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