I saw this little girl, about seven, on the subway. Her mom was sleeping beside her. She was surveying the people in the car with a calm and wit that belied her age. Some people might identify her as an “old soul.” Each time the car pulled into a station she would turn and look at what was going on out on the platform, then return her attentions to her neighbours in the seats around her.
It was one of those mornings when the car was quiet – all of the passengers into themselves, nodding off, sipping coffee, rolling through BlackBerry messages, reading the newspaper; a collection of sleepy-eyed commuters easing themselves into a day in silence. The absence of chatter makes a ride like this seem as if we’re suspended in time for a few moments before city life whirls itself back into your consciousness.
Behind her cute little wire rimmed glasses the girl watched people; still, hands in her lap, and a slight curl to her lip that indicated a confidence in her perspective.
I wondered where her mind was taking her; I wondered if she would always observe her world in this thoughtful way. I wondered if she might grow up to be a writer or an artist, taking inspiration from her world around her always.
Tonight I’m on my way home from Mia’s where we had dinner and wine and dessert under the umbrella on the deck in spite of intermittent rain drops; it was otherwise a luscious summer evening and we didn’t care to waste a moment of it inside.
At Broadview station I decide to take the streetcar instead of the subway, even though it’s a longer trip, because I’ve enjoyed summer all day and I’d rather sit above ground at an open window and watch the city go by. I walk over to wait for the King car and among the various other waiting people is a sixty-something woman sitting on a bench. I notice she’s singing to herself, and her body and hands move to the tunes and rhythms in her head. By the way she moves I can tell it’s gospel music.
I’m fiddling around with my new phone and reading text messages, but I wander over and stand near the lady so I can listen to her. A few minutes later I realise she’s speaking to me: “Come sit down!”
So I sit beside her on the bench and I ask her, what was she singing? “Gospel!” she says, and then she sings a verse for me. Her face is bright and alive and her skin would suggest a woman decades younger and she’s got a gorgeous wide mouth with big, straight, white teeth. I remark on her beautiful smile and she returns a compliment. She tells me her secret to nice teeth is to add salt to her toothpaste. I ask her if she’s gone to church today and she says in a rich, islandy accent: “All day mum! I’ve been there all day and I’m goin home now.”
I tell her I’ve had dinner at my cousin’s and she flashes more of that enviable smile. Then she says, “here is the 100 bus – are you waitin for it?” I say no, and she gets up to leave and I go to shake her hand and she says “oh mum, give me a hug.”
So we hug and off she goes to wherever that 100 bus was going to take her.