(This is the second in a four-part series)
As the train neared the Garfield redline stop I pulled my black hoodie out of my bag, and slipped it on over my light-colored shirt that I had worn to class. I was scared. This was my first time ever being here alone; I wanted to get it over with as soon as possible and to avoid interacting with anyone standing nearby.
As soon as the train stopped and the doors opened I alighted and made a bolt for the escalator. Upon reaching the top, I made my way to the exit doors, flung them open and ran across the street, glancing nervously in every direction.
That was last summer. The other night, this happened:
As I stepped out into the same busy street, I heard the door behind me swing open with a rush. Then, like a gust of wind, a young man bolted by me, nearly knocking me down as he ran full-speed across the street. Even though it was 60˚ outside, he wore a large, army green jacket. He shot a nervous glance in both directions as he hurried to cross. His nervousness seemed, at least to me, unfounded, as it played itself out in this foolish mad-dash; because, I knew full well that he and I were both headed towards the same bus stop, to wait for the same approaching bus.
I walked across the street; calmly, gently, contentedly, walked across the street.
The irony was not lost on those who were already at the stop. And, since I arrived in plenty of time, they shot knowing glances and smirks in my direction. The young man wore a mixed expression of nervousness, relief, and sheepishness, as he attempted to regain his breath.
I had no intention of embarrassing this guy. I also had no intention or reason to rush.
I have been at that same redline stop at least a hundred times. No hyperbole whatsoever, it is at least one hundred times. Keep in mind that I have logged enough miles on the CTA to get me from Chicago to Prunedale, CA, as the crow flies. I doubt that they keep track of things like this at Moody, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I was close to the record for the most miles by one student in one academic year, ever.
In his actions I saw a reflection of my own from last summer. At first I dreaded that place; I wanted to get it over with without being seen. Then I began to tolerate it. Now I cherish that bus stop, the varying crowd of now vaguely familiar folks. They are nothing to fear, they, like myself, are just trying to get by.
This place where I once ran scared has become a restful solace. It doesn’t matter how fast you get across the street, you still have to wait for the bus. This lesson may seem obvious, yet it took me months to learn. I cannot blame this young man because I too once felt that fear.