Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Made To Shine

In the heavens among clouds, stars are being born,
Nearby in a neighboring land, children are being lost. 
Deep in the darkest corners of space, suns become bound together.
And in sad cities, childhood itself becomes lost.

 by Yosl Kurland from Prayer For Bosnia copyright 1995

They were arguing, the two young men blocking my path to the escalators.  It was not apparent at first, that they were even friends.
"Excuse me...."
"OH, sorry lady, sorry..."
They immediately moved aside as I began my upward climb with a very heavy green case, a half empty water bottle fixing to fall out of a way too cumbersome bag filled with camera, books and a lighter than I started with, wallet.   The escalator rose with me, the young men and several other nondescript travelers.  It was late.  I should have gotten into the Boston station from Chicago by 9:30 PM, instead- eleven.  Great.  I missed my connection and no more buses or trains would be leaving out towards Portland Maine until the early AM.  This is where the young men and their argument came into play.  They had a ticket they needed to sell, as Portland was not where they intended to go together.  One guy was heading in the opposite direction of his buddy and due to circumstances- they decided it best for the broken hearted one- not to be left alone.  
The ticket seller would not adjust the ticket, refund the money or listen whatsoever to the two young men.  I had nothing more to go on, so I opted not to buy their ticket- matter of fact, it was time I estimated- to just sit and gather my self and the information at hand before I decided to buy any ticket anywhere.

The broken hearted guy was tearful.  But he was very tough so it was exceptionally hard on him to cry or not cry- no emotional in bursts or outbursts no sirree- be tough.  Be a man.  Learn from your friend that you just met at the station- "Your sister won't be here to collect you, man....  I don't know how to tell you this...I'm so sorry.  Your baby died."

That was the argument early on, in front of the escalators, remember?  The heart breaker was giving a message that the heart broken could not, would not bear.   Apparently he had just come out of rehab after several months.  Seems he had a choice back then- jail or get your self dried up.  He chose the latter, but before he left- he hugged his new infant son, made promises to him that his own father never kept in all of his life and went away to get better.   He came home to Boston.  To a new life.  To a cold new beginning.  

I learned that his mother was homeless, raised him mainly homeless, she was a heroine addict or whatever she could get and yet, he loved her and respected her.  
She had no choice.  The father early on made a waste out of her and the son just hung on as the Dad eventually took his own life after inflicting much pain and homelessness on his little follower family.
Yeah...this is a sad story.  Trouble is, it's true.  The heart broken guy, only 17.  The heart breaker friend, a bit older and loyal as anyone I suppose, the heart broken guy had ever known.  

"I don't care about the ticket, you need to go back to Portland."
"No man...I'm not leaving you now.  My sister said she'll come tomorrow to help us.  I'm staying..."
"Why?  What's the point?  I don't want to live.  Why would I want to live now?  I'd jump in that harbor but it's so fucking cold, and I've been cold all my fucking life and I just don't want to end cold..."  And he sobbed then.  He broke.  And I was there.  And all I could do was not break too.

"I'm so sorry, take my hand..."
"What the fuck lady, get away from me...leave me alone, God dammit!"
"Please, accept my hand, I don't know what to do for you...hold it.  Take it, tell me..."

His friend intervened and that is how we sat with him, in between us- just like that.

So- that's the story of how I spent the last night of my journey home.  In a Boston bus station.  Holding a young guys hand.  For several hours.  That's all I could do and it was all the warmth I guess, he could take.  But he let me.  His friend sat on the other side of him, in silence- sometimes he'd look at me and I'd look at him and we knew between the two of us was heaven and hell battling it out in a young- too too young soul.
Did I mention this heart broken guy was beautiful as I had ever seen?  Raw, yes.  Broken, oh my God...  Capable of moving past the instant sorrow on top of the life ladened with it?  I tell you, I just don't know.  I may never know. He held my hand and I held his and that's just about all any of us can do I suppose, in a bus station, in Boston where the marble floors are made to shine but people, homeless, hopeless people- shine just as much with a whole lot less care and attention.

I should have given that young man my number.  I should have said- "Call me, let me know how your life is going...I want to know."
But instead, I left him with this-
"I don't know what to say, I'm sorry.  You don't deserve it.  Listen to your friend, he cares for you.  Don't be alone..."
"What should I do?  What do I do, tell me...."

"The next right thing,"  I said, " And then the next right thing after that."

As vague as that statement was, I could not say to him in all honesty- I don't know.  He may have been hopeless for much and most and maybe all of his life...but, I am not.  And someone I remembered, once said that to didn't seem at the time a loving thing to hear, or even navigational for that matter- but in times of great despair, the truth is all that one can hear- even in simple terms as "the next right thing."  Basic instinct tells us, for survival sake- what the next right thing is that keeps us alive and moving out of harm's way.  That young man was not open to any blatant fairy tale or triumphant message from me or anyone- but he did hear that low down honest one.  He did. 

The next right thing then for me, was to write this story and tell his side.  So maybe, just maybe some day- someone might read it and remember that being indifferent, blind to suffering while we rail against traffic lights and Charlie Sheen's behavior- is not the next right thing.  It's not even close.

  From where I sit, under my stable roof and blue sky above with a fire burning not eight feet away warming me almost too much to the point of being uncomfortable...well, I truly don't know what that is, uncomfortable.  I know hope and beauty and see no reason beyond this moment to ever cry about anything, but instead be oh so grateful that I did not end up in that middle seat.

His name is Steven- he could use our prayers.
Thank you.  Take care-

*I met  Yosl/Joe Kurland on the train from Boston to Chicago...he sang for me in the great shiny hall of Union Station and taught me a bit of Yiddish and stories that perhaps made me more open to that young man in the Boston station.
He reminded me of a saying I had come upon years back-

“It is not your obligation to complete the work [of perfecting the world], but neither are you free to desist [from doing all you can do]…”.

Yosl Kurland


Little Messy Missy said...

Hi, you have Malaysian Seramas and yes they are the smallest chickens in the world. I LOVE them!! I live in utah and our winters are VERY cold. I keep a heat light in my coop outside and lots of pine and starw for bedding. When they are sitting on eggs I put them in a hutch (kind of like a rabbits hutch) my husband built and keep them either in a corner of my computer room or my back porch. Last year they were outside all year but with the babies and how cold it still is here i moved mama and baby indoors with a heat light. They are surprising tough little chickens and will fluff up in fall. Mine always slept right under the heat light or under one of my normal sized hens. xoxoxox

troutbirder said...

That short poem touched something here. My son and daughter in law have adopted a child from Ethiopia and one who was abandoned in Rwanda. Now having gone thia past summer to help in Haiti, they have a 10 year old girl crushed and buried for a 3 days in the earthquake they want to adopt. The American Embassy, WILL NOT provide a medical visa for her so they can bring her to Colorado. The Denver Childrens hospital has agreed to do the surgery she needs to walk again. There way to many lost and forgotten children out there. Of all ages.

truewonder said...

Thanks Missy...
You're too correct TB. We see signs everywhere that say, "Clean up after your dog" or "Wash your hands before returning to work"- sanitation and cleanliness seem like reminders that are more important than something that should take no sign, no reference to remind us that children deserve our utmost attention and care.
It truly astonished me, in that station- that it was more important to shine those inanimate floors than shine/care for those children left wandering in those great marble halls.

Donna Henderson said...

"Despair, Heaven, broken hearted..." these are your tags? Sounds like one of my posts! Well done, yours is, my friend. Keep at it then, and I'll do the same. Carry on.

truewonder said...


To carry on is certainly a difficult thing to do in light of circumstances beyond our control- but not beyond our compassion.
Thank you, take care-

Anonymous said...

Just saying hi, we shared coffee and conversation on the train from Chicago.Don't stop what you're doing, it gives the rest of us hope.


truewonder said...


What a truly wonderful surprise...we shared more than coffee my friend. You are as astute and observant as an eagle, very apparent to me. I remember sitting in that Chicago waiting room and you sat behind- taking us all in, listening and then chiming in and oh how you made me smile because you are so earnest and that gives ME hope.
You were going to see your uncle in New York and I thought you a brave soul...big city guy, big heart I observed. Glad to have met you!
Anyway, thank you much- very kind acknowledgement, I don't know if I give hope so much as reflect it as I am given it too. Take care.