Train ride 2/19/14

This was posted last year, but I wanted to share again.

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Yesterday on the Metrolink train, (in the quiet car) on the way in to Union Station with the ultimate desitination of USC, I sat next to a beautiful young black girl. It's the 7:00 am train, and full, but nice and quiet — the better to read or listen to headphones. I read my script and made edits, she had her headphones on and was scrolling through what looked like messages on her phone. She listened to some, I think.

After about 40 minutes she took her headphones off, turned to me and said softly, "Do you mind if I ask a question?"

"No."

"Have you ever had friends who you thought were your friends and then you find out they aren't?"

I said, "Yes, of course."

She continued very quietly and haltingly at first, then spoke faster and faster.

"My friends all make fun of me. I'm new up here. They make fun of the way I talk, the way I look, what I say. They tell me I'm weird. Nothing I do is right, no matter what, and I don't know what's wrong with me."

Then tears started to pour down her cheeks and she buried herself against the window and sobbed as quietly as she could.

I gave her tissue and said, "Then they aren't your friends."

She kept crying, and crying and told me she lived with her grandmother, hated the technical school she was going to, wanted to go back home to her mother, who understood her and didn't think she was weird.

I said what I could, feeling helpless and not sure what I should say, but I tried to listen.  She told me more and more. This went on for a bit. I gave her more tissue and patted her shoulder, talked about my beautiful daughter and her struggles, about friends who weren't friends, friends who were really friends, and that sort of thing.

Then I ran out of things to say. She kept crying. Then I remembered one of the few places where I have always been welcomed in spite of being made fun of, no one thought I was weird, or laughed at my poorly sewn clothes (we had to make our own starting in junior high, and I was NOT a great seamstress).  In this place there was almost always a sense of family (dysfunctional at times, but family) and -- most importantly -- where I had made some life-long friends, still my friends today.

I asked her if she had ever taken any theater classes.

She brightened up and said, "Yes, actually, that is the one class that I like, I just started it."

I wanted to say that theater people wouldn't think her weird at all, and would hug her and comfort her, but I didn't. I told her instead to make new friends, try more theater classes, and that a flamingo always looks weird in a crowd of chickens.

She stopped crying eventually, then we got to Union Station and I had to hurry to catch the bus. Even though I wanted to give her a hug, I just wished her well. I hope she finds new friends that they welcome her with open arms, and don't think she's 'weird.'

To all my theater and creative friends, hugs to you. Thanks always for your open arms and warmth.

© moje wetzork studios 2016