Riding Metro-North. With Aglets & Eyelets.

Irritated. 

I’m not going to lay down words here about my non-eventful walk to the train station, the brooding weather (light rain), what morning train I’m running to catch, or what day it was. DrossWho cares?

No. I’m not going to spew my wonder (disgust) as to how it’s possible, on the 3rd train of the morning (pre-6am) to be standing. Standing, Again, on a 56 minute ride to Grand Central. There are worse things you ingrate. Hmmmmm….possibly one or two things worse.

I carve out my less-than-a-square-meter of space in the vestibule, among the other Unfortunates. I set my bag down, and grab the stainless steel pole. Relax. Take a deep breath DK. Look at the others around you, in exactly the same situation, yet remain poised, calm, accepting. 

And then there’s you.

Unmoored by a slight ripple of inconvenience, and your mind is chattering, battering, judging.  Me vs. Me, both sides punching.  This whole meditation thing, is just not there, not in the wiring.  It’s like you wish you had copper piping running through the entire house, but it’s plastic. It will always be plastic. It will only ever be plastic.  So accept ‘that.’

We’re 15 minutes into the ride. Feet are swollen in stiff cordovan lace-ups. Hips aching. A twinge in the lower back.  Pema Chodron: “Every moment of time has enormous energy in it, and we could connect with that.” So Pema, where is it?  Where is mine? Where is ‘that?’

I shift my weight to the other leg and bump into his backpack.  Mid-twenties. 5’11”. Black hair. Wafer thin. Closely shaven beard. French profile.  Patagonia bubble jacket with hood. Thin gold wedding band. Shoes, brown, scuffed on the outer edges, are yearning for polish.  Laces on both shoes are undone, the dark circles of two rows of eyelets sit empty, waiting for the threading led by the aglets.

Aglets. Eyelets. Laces. The flash drive spins and retrieves the moment…

50+ years ago. Miami. Mid-summer. Eric (son) is hunched over. His pudgy fingers are threading the aglets into the eyelets and pulling the laces through. His cheeks are red, beads of perspiration line his brow, his tongue dangles over his lip, a calf.  He wipes his brow with the back of his hand. He begins the loops to tie the laces. Once. And unravel. Twice. And unravel. Three times. And unravel.

He yanks off his little right shoe and slams it into the ground.

I put my arm around him, lift him into my arms. He’s trembling. He buries his head into my nape sobbing, my arms pull him closer, the back of his t-shirt sopping wet from his failed attempts.

It’s ok Bud. It’s ok. You’ll get it. You’re almost there.  Just take a moment. It will be ok.

Ok Dad. Ok. I’ll try it again. 

Lost in Laces, the commuting time is an eye blink. The train pulls into Grand Central and the commuters crowd the doors waiting to exit.

I step over the gap and follow the throng onto the platform and down the tunnels.

Eric and his little sneakers fade away. I smile.

It’s ok Bud. It’s ok. You’ll get it. You’re almost there.  Just take a moment. It will be ok.


Notes:

  • Inspired by Frederick Buechner, Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith: “From the simplest lyric to the most complex novel and densest drama, literature is asking us to pay attention. Pay attention to the frog. Pay attention to the west wind. Pay attention to the boy on the raft, the lady in the tower, the old man on the train. In sum, pay attention to the world and all that dwells therein and thereby learn at last to pay attention to yourself and all that dwells therein.”
  • Photo: Hanna Eiler, Nurtured Curiosity, 1980 (via Newthom)
  • Related Posts: Commuting Series

Comments

  1. And there, right there – was the answer you posed to Pema. Yeah pal, there are a few worse things than standing on the morning train…you got to feel that little face against your neck again, to soothe your toddler again – not bad for a morning’s commute.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Always love your writing Mr K. You are not and will never be plastic, but only you can change that belief. And so, where is yours? Eric learned from practising everyday with lots of encouragement. Practice. Everyday. 🙏🏻🌈

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Achingly beautiful Dave. Thanks for articulating the journey so authentically.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. You encouraged Eric, gave him the space and time to grow and learn. Be as gentle with yourself, pal. I’ll never be Russell Banks or Anne Lamott (though what I wouldn’t give…), but I keep writing every day, trying to make me the best me I can be. Deep breaths and a soupçon of acceptance, that’s what I recommend. And beautiful writing, btw….

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you Lori. Yes. And your recommendation is my target, and forward motion toward it one step at a time.
      ——
      Edmund Bergler was, like Freud, an Austrian Jew, and he was a follower of Freudian theory. According to Wikipedia, he believed that masochism was the root cause of all other human neuroses, that the only thing worse than man’s inhumanity to man was man’s inhumanity to himself.

      ~ Sigrid Nunez, The Friend: A Novel (Riverhead Books, February 6, 2018)

      Liked by 5 people

  5. This, is one of my favorite posts of yours….so much depth and self-awareness.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Tenderly beautiful…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Parenting is the little moments. The sweet and bitter that cut so deep. Great job capturing, better than any Nikon.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “…you make my heart sing. Wild thing, I think you move me…..”

    Liked by 3 people

  9. ‘Wandering’ while stuck in a spot…some of my favorite ‘travels’! Thank you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. it was nice to read about your shift to the compassionate side and forgetting your own discomfort for a moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. When I see the title “Riding Metro-North…” I know I am in for something wonderful.

    You never disappoint. Should have thanked Mr. Skinny for inadvertently taking you out of your less than one-square-metre… I love when a thought takes me on a journey to the past and I come out of it feeling good! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Edwsf-8F3sI
    😉

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Aw 🙂 sweet and sweet! Memories are angels, sometimes of redemption.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh, how sweet, that you were re-minded of your empathy for Eric, your tenderness, your comforting–all that is what David needed…and it came to you!
    and, thanks for your beautiful writing and sharing…

    Liked by 1 person

    • It did come to me Valerie. Buechner inspired without me knowing it. Thank you for the kind words.

      ——-

      Frederick Buechner, Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith:

      “From the simplest lyric to the most complex novel and densest drama, literature is asking us to pay attention. Pay attention to the frog. Pay attention to the west wind. Pay attention to the boy on the raft, the lady in the tower, the old man on the train. In sum, pay attention to the world and all that dwells therein and thereby learn at last to pay attention to yourself and all that dwells therein.”

      Like

  14. Oh my, oh my – and there was me, in our car, telling Hero Husband all about this blogger named David and his wise words and wise choices of texts and great pictures and and and…. WHY? Because driving home from (and through) Paris is not for the faint-hearted and I’m bone-weary by the killjoy-style driving of the mostly (but not exclusively) Parisian drivers. So, being overtaken, undertaken, by-passed left right and middle, slightly touched on the side by a motorcycle (mind you, mc drivers are ALWAYS in the right, they can kill you, lynch you, but as a car driver you are always and forever in the wrong if a mc bike is involved), – so, I retold your story about the delayed journey to work (Feb 22, I think), your feelings, your frustration, your anger over the delay…. but also that in the end it was ‘just that’ – for you and not a death as it had been for the one ‘other person’…. I told HH how much I appreciate your writing, your thoughts, your findings, high praise indeed. We luckily ‘make’ it to our home (minus the wall but that’s another story to be told to the grandchildren we will never have) w/o any great harm, ignore the scratches on the right side where the biker ‘surfed’ over our car, we have an espresso and later a mug of tea, and I start reading THIS post. I go: NO NOT AGAIN, NOT YOU, NO NO NO…. Has he learned nothing 2 or 3 days ago? The pedestal on which the great Dave stood starts to crumble, and then – then comes the 2nd part of the story and I can breathe again!
    Halleluja, peace is restored, DK remembers a story of helping his child to put his shoes on (that must have been before velcro, but did you have Eric at the age of let’s say, about 8yrs of age ((yours))?)….. We’re breathing calmly now, we’re going to be OK, alright and we’re getting off the train serene and with a loving heart….

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Love that last line Bud. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Loved this, DK! I was right there with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Dave, Amazing how people’s minds work…how a glance down at a pair of unkempt shoes took you back in nano seconds to a time when Eric was four to six years old…attempting to master a milestone of working with shoelaces a step toward tying shoes…and you greeted him with encouragement and gentleness…bonding…You and Eric are tethered, Father and son…Eric must 23 or 24, now? I am taken back to a time in Jan. 2018 when you shared of your post, regarding your op- accident, and how the no longer pudgy fingers but hands of strength, mind of experience, calmness of training, love of a son…his gentle strength administering aid…moving forward, coming to a point to the emergency room discharge of “Home, Son, Home” – Full Circle…Heart to Heart…

    Liked by 1 person

  18. And this always happens for you when you notice a detail. That leads to another detail. And another. Until Story overtakes Curmudgeon-Mind and loses Time.

    Like

  19. Last line, David = EXACTLY. I was raised so critically, I had to re-parent myself. I remember driving along lonely Maine roads, stroking my driving arm with the other. “It’s ok, sweetie. It’s okay.” Good for you. And see, Pema was right all along 😉 We are often kindest to others when it’s so important to learn to attend kindly to ourselves. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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