April, 2011: the white noise reached through the white earbuds of my privileged sanctuary, a thin veil between me and the black woman with too many bags, who sang aloud with the hymn from her own, black earbuds:
A bike shook wildly on the bus’ bike rack, “glad that’s not my bike”, I say to myself.
The express lanes are not quite “express” on this typical Seattle morning: dreary, wet, 15mph on I-5 both ways, you know, typical.
I want to sing along, maybe something we all know, “Amazing Grace”? Google the lyrics. Wiki the origins. All the YouTube renditions.
A sing-along, Yes! The Society of Morning Commuters and one fixed income elderly woman perhaps living with chronic mental illness, perhaps not – all together now! like that Coca-Cola commercial having an Express Bus flash mob sing-along “…in per-fect har-mo-ny…”, there’s an app for that.
But no WiFi in the Bus Tunnel, no Pandora, no NYTimes, no Twitter, no Facebook.
Is it cruel to think: “When will she be getting off?” And that I failed to ask myself: “Could this be me?” And hum: “…How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.”
I keep my white earbuds in anyway and listen through my thin veil of personal space, to the silence of Society and to the black woman with black earbuds and too many bags singing:
“Praise Him. Prrr-aise Himmm….”
Black or White or Brown, she wears her earbuds like me, to tune out. For her it’s from all the eye rolling, cringe and grimace, shame and embarrassment of a busload of fellow citizens on this particular morning, tuning in to Egypt and Libya and Wisconsin, anywhere but the seat in front of them on the Express Bus.
Her eyes closed tight, almost crying, tears of joy, sorrow, waving hands in the air in praise, while I TXT my joy
😉 and sorrow 😦 to some other ether shy of Heaven, a blogpost perhaps. Too long-winded to tweet, too deep to Facebook.
In our own ways, we wave our hands in the air, looking for a sign from above, a signal, that we are not alone, that we are in good hands.