The baby crying on the train is grinding against her mother's chest, like if she pushes deep enough she'll find the heart in the callous woman who yells "You're embarrassing me" as her daughter, who cannot yet speak our language, chokes on her own ache. She never asks "What's wrong?"
This baby will yell until someone asks her. But we cannot. We can only listen. This 45 minute train ride is an eternity; hell is crying babies and a throbbing uterus. Give me your baby, I have nothing but love in me.
I say this too often to too many parents who have failed their children somehow. I vow to do better by my children than the things I've seen but what do I know? We are all products of our parents, of our broken parts, of the way it feels to promise.
I am a bystander; peering through the windows of dark homes and expecting a light to turn on. But it doesn't. We are all a little more in the dark than we'd like to let on. I am learning this slowly.
In a time where I am supposed to build a life, I shy away from connection. On the train, I'm staring at a poster that says "Self Storage is Stupid" and make a list of other things that are stupid. I loathe that word but sense the term 'self' is what, then, becomes "stupid." Being too self-reliant, self-assured, self-doubting, self-fulfilling. Any extremity of "self." I am a person who drowns in her-self. In the responsibilities of self. There is a world of things that only we own, but the people around us wear sweaters they also call self. We are lonely but we aren't alone.
I tell myself this often. A person away from my perfect day, I've resolved not to let disappointment color all of the walls in my studio apartment. So I've taken to putting up picture frames. Even empty, a home for something is better than no home at all.
I sit, sardined, on a Brooklyn Bound A Train and I imagine what I must look like, a perception of myself, dressed somewhere between weekend-chic and Indiana Jones. In a moment of weakness, I can feel wetness on my exhausted face. I sigh. I had secretly (not so secretly) hoped for a visitor this weekend and, a person so in love with love, I was disappointed when that imagined tryst did not occur.
A woman I work with cautioned me, "Marry a teacher, no one else will understand the work you do." And, when not even I understand what keeps me up at night, I long for someone to console me. I am a version of self that stupidly strives to do everything on her own. I would kill to drop the ball and know that someone else would catch it.
Is that so wrong?
This is Me:
My name's Melissa. I'm the girl with her hands in her journal.