Sunday, November 27, 2011

One of those nights

1. One of those nights Tonight was one of those nights where I walked right past my train stop without noticing. Then again, I am not too familiar with Houston Street, so I might have missed the stop even if I had not been wrapped up in conversation with two fellow choristers.The girl who became my friend was the one to notice, a girl of eighteen with curly black hair and a lot to say. We continued on to another convenient stop, bearing to our left while the third of us crossed the street to reach her apartment.One of the first in my newly adopted singing group (well, I guess they adopted me) to reach out, my friend had proposed that we walk together and then delved into bits of my life story - which, of course, inspired her to share bits of hers.
By the time we parted ways with our acquaintance, I had talked about Seeds of Peace, and my friend had explained aspects of her background and upbringing....
This is how she had started talking about the community - because what I said about Seeds of Peace bringing people together who might be unaware of each other (at least in some senses) resonated, and she felt that the community could use something like that, that there was such a large amount of ignorance, that it was just not representative of the larger world, that they weren't really living in the world.We talked a little bit about religion - we passed a food cart, I asked if she kept Halal, she said she's not really anything at the moment. She went some into being baptized Catholic and being raised in the Church but then snapping a couple weeks before Communion - or confirmation? Whichever it was, she was around thirteen, which she used as part of the explanation of why snapping made sense.
  I mentioned going to a Quaker school at some point.

Our third had brought up the Episcopal church that she attends.She said there, they're Christian, but sort of anything goes.
  Are there drums sometimes? I inquired.
  Yes, drums.
  It was around then that she parted ways with us.
  And then my friend really started talking.
  She had been talking all along, but this was a little more rapid-fire.I forget a little bit of the ordering.
  There was one question I asked that set her off talking, but there were also things she just said on her own.
  She said there was no use playing the field if she found the person she lovedand I said "If you know, you know." And she seemed to agree with that....
She asked me at one point
  if I was very religious.
  I said, "Pretty religious."
  She shared some of her views. Not views as in, "I believe in God," etc.
Although at one point she said something about spirituality but that that word sounds "kumbaya." I totally understood her there.
  The views that she shared were about what she loved about various religions.
  Muslims, she said -
in Islam, there is a new love of God every day.
  My first thought was that this meant there was a different way to love God you were supposed to take on each day.
  Then she said
  In Judaism, you have an old love of God every day.
  Then I started thinking about the new and the ancient.
That our love of God is an old love, in an old way.
  She said
  that Jews are keeping an ancient promise, are still keeping that promise.
"If that's what you do."
  I thought that was beautiful and it totally changed the way I see my role. I might have thought of it before. But it came out of her mouth then, and it was a breath of clarity.
  She talked about Christianity
said that she had issues with modern Christianity
  has seen a lot of hypocrisy
  but what she believes Christianity should be
  is love over morality
  She is frustrated by seeing people hate others for their sins.
After what I would call the commandment of "v'ahavta l'reacha camocha"(love your neighbor as yourself).
  She apologized several times for speaking so much.
  I said I enjoyed it and was looking forward to many more opportunities.
 I said she was a pretty wise person.
And she started remarking about how she wasn't, or she doubted that, something to that effect
  and then we got into a conversation about
  how if you acknowledge that you're wise, that's how you're supposed to know you're not
  that the wise people are ones who don't know it really
  and the kind people too, the good people.
I mentioned this, and she started talking about a story about a guru
  who would do something called tapas
  and get to some sort of state
  but then upon realizing it or thinking of himself a certain way
  he went back to the beginningagain
that that's how people get drawn back into the cycles of reincarnation - you think you do a good deed, and once you think about it in that way karma draws you back.
So it was right as we were talking about such matters that we arrived at the second train stop.
  We bid each other good night, take care, see you next week, I'll add you on Facebook.
   2. Train Man, or the moment I might regret as long as I remember it
I got on the train. It's a longer trip than I usually take, at least not involving a transfer - meaning more time I can do something instead of walking.
  There was a man next to me in awesome pants. He had hair in a bun on the top of his head. He was Asian of some sort. He was part of a group of people. One of them commented on his pants. I said I loved them too.
A woman a bit down the train car had sold them to him on her online store. They were part of the same group.
  I pulled out my chazzanut pages to study and sing quietly on the way back north. Review time.
At some point, the large group left. They were really cool. I contemplated what it would be like to say, Hey, you guys seem real neat, or something like that at least, My name's Molly, can I hang with you?
  I don't know what that would have even looked like. They might have been looking for a bar at the moment. I have work tomorrow.
  So they left.
  I sat down.
  A couple people sat down next to me, presently.
A man on each side. I gave each a brief glance and continued studying.
  But a woman was looking to sit down. She chose on the other side of one of the men, but I wasn't sure there was enough space, so I stood up. As I am wont to do.
But then it turned out there was enough space, and the man scooted a bit and beckoned me to sit back down. Which I did, feeling slightly foolish but only very, very slightly. I would have stood and been happy, but perhaps it would have made it seem like I didn't want to sit there. In any case, he made sure there was room.
  So I studied.
  At some point, the man said, Are you studying to become a cantor?
I paused - the answer has taken different forms over the days and years - and answered that I was not currently studying to become a cantor, but I was taking a class on chazzanut.
  I forget whether we used the word cantor or chazzan. Perhaps cantor.
He said, so you are learning for fun?
  I said, well, not really, I want to lead services, I like leading services.
  It was obvious at some point that he was a Hebrew-speaker from the way he pronounced a few of the following words.
  He said all he had learned was singing his parashah, for his bar mitzvah.
  I asked which parashah? (Parashah was the word that gave him away as non-American.)
  He said Bereishit.
I said, a good place to start.
  He had dark curly hair, somewhere between wavy and curly. Within ten years of my age. Within five, probably.
  He said I was probably planning on leading Reform services?
I said no, actually. Conservative. Then I hesitated and almost corrected that, almost explained more, almost said something about not Reform being about liking Hebrew, but then all I said was, whomever would let me, but not Reform.
He said, there are troubles in Israel about women singing, have you heard?
  I said, yes, I've heard, and added a couple more words that related to how I had been following such matters to some extent.
  I said, are you from Israel?
  He said yes, where are you from? I said I'm from Baltimore.
Or maybe we asked each other in the opposite order.
  Either here or slightly earlier in the conversation he said,
  I'm sorry, I am distracting you from studying.
  Or you were studying.
  Or something like that.
  But I said, not at all. Or that's okay. Or something like that.
  And closed my book on my lap.
  We were in silence for some moments.
I forget whether we talked about something else, or whether this happened slightly earlier in the conversation and then the rest of the conversation happened right then.
  But we were saying something, but not mid-sentence.
  Then it got to my stop.
  I said, this is my stop. and got up.
  Have a good night, I said.
  Good night, he said.
And I left the train, not knowing his name, not knowing where he was going, no way to contact him ever ever.
  I contemplated looking at Craigslist to see if he had put anything there.
  Not for romantic reasons.
  But just a conversation, he was interested in me, I was curious about him to some extent, at least enjoying talking with him.
I could have stayed on one more stop. Very easily. I often do get off at the next stop, if I take the express train.
  But instead, I just left the train with a good night.
  And that's something that I might always regret if I remember it.
  At least that's what I was thinking as I left the station.
  Although now I realize
  that this story wouldn't have a part three in the same way if I hadn't gotten off the train there.

3. Because I was feeling slightly hungry  Because I was feeling slightly hungry
  and walked into a Starbucks
  because the door was open.
  I almost never go into Starbucks. Nothing against it, just almost never a reason to.
  But I walked in
  and was waiting to get a piece of multiple berry coffee cake.
  There were two doctors there
  stethoscopes around their necks.
  I asked the woman if she was on call
she said no, she was working, just taking a coffee break.
  I was going to pay the guy for my slice of coffee cake.
  He said not to pay, they were about to throw it all out anyway.
Oh, that's what he had said earlier, that they were about to throw everything out, did I want anything?
  The female doctor (the one closer to the man behind the counter) and I were shocked.
  They were just going to throw it out? They always threw it out?
  There was a lot of food left - and fresh, too.
  I was thinking of finding a homeless shelter in the area to take it.
That'll actually be a project of mine this week, trying to figure out whether that Starbucks location can partner with a shelter to donate what's left at the end of the day.
  But my phone wasn't really able to search for a shelter at that moment.
  or at least not that quickly.
  The woman suggested to him that if they were going to throw it out but were asking us to take what we wanted, she could take some back to the hospital.
Maybe the ER is where she was. I don't remember. But she was going to put the food in the conference room.
  The doctors would be very happy for that late at night.
 I volunteered to help her carry it back. It was that much food.
  But it ended up fitting on one or both of her arms,
  in paper bags with handles, five or six strung on her right arm.
Smallish paper bags, but still.
  And that wasn't even all of the muffins and cakes and candies.
But that happened, and I walked out of the store with her (after asking for a piece of lemon pound cake for breakfast - he gave me two, I found out when I got home)
  and we swapped first names and parted with a Good night.
I acknowledged earlier on how it was probably strange of me to just walk in with her, so it's good that it turned out that way, I think.
but yes, we parted
  I came back here
  she had asked for the guy's name
  Noel, or Noelle, however it's spelled, but pronounced No-el.
  I looked up a homeless shelter and called and got an answering machine.
And I looked forward to putting this into writing...about my extraordinary evening. And I thought, I had a distinct sense of God tonight.  4. Seaweed  And then I bought two packs of seaweed.

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