Sunday, March 25, 2012

The things people say

I will admit, that having a tremor, is certainly a conversation starter.  It doesn't matter where I go, or who I am with, someone is going to say something about my head shaking.  Last weekend, while visiting some friends, I got to experience some pretty special interactions with strangers.  Some of them left me feeling like there are still  really good people in the world, and others left me wondering what our world is coming to.
Standing on the platform, waiting for my train, a young man approached me.  "Hi Miss.  I was wondering if I could ask you a question..."
Please let him ask for the time... "Sure."
"Why are you shaking your head like that?  Do you always do that?"
He was sincere and gentle, and so I returned the same with my response.  "I have a movement disorder, and it stops when I am asleep."
"Have you always had it or did something happen?"
"It was an adverse reaction to medication."
"Oh.  That really stinks.  But you are really pretty.  You are totally my type."
Ugh.  So much for sincere, and so thankful the train pulled up.  "Have a good day." I said as I walked away.  Oh, but he was on my heels.
"No, really you are so pretty...really."
I thanked him and found the only open seat on the train.  He was left standing at the doors.
Interaction two, happened on another train, same day.  This time, I had no one sitting next to me, only a few very intoxicated guys in front of me.  When I got on the train, I could feel their stares burning into my head as I found my seat.  As I sat texting and doing a crossword, they started getting rowdy.  It was the beginning of St. Patrick's Day weekend, and these guys clearly were proud to be Irish.  In fact, they were bragging to the conductor that there was no beer left on the train.  If alcohol does one thing, it certainly makes you honest.  One of the guys kept peering back through the seats looking at me.  I'd glance up, and there would be an eye watching me.  All of a sudden Sir DrinksAlot pops his head up over the seats.  "I shake like that too when I'm not drinking."
My sassiness was obviously going to be needed on this trip. "Probably means you should drink less." I said.  He turned around, and sat back in his seat.
I managed to find my way to the subway station, where a woman in a wheelchair stopped right in front of me, and stared.  I smiled, and scooted around her to board the train.  It was packed, and barely enough room to stand.  A elderly man, stood up and offered me his seat.  "Thank you, I only have three stops."
"No please, I insist." So I thanked him, and took his seat.  As we approached my stop, I grabbed the pole to stand up, and the gentleman assisted me in rising.  "Have a good day." he said.
I managed to make it to the platform to catch the final train of the day, and could feel my neck and shoulders start to ache from all the traveling.  When I boarded yet another busy, rush-hour train, I was happy to find a seat, sitting next to a man completely absorbed in his phone.  He smiled when I sat down next to him, and went back to what he was doing.  I pulled my phone out, and started doing the same.  About 20 minutes into the ride, he leaned over and asked "May I ask you a question?"
Here we go.  I thought.  "Sure."
"Are you in pain from your head moving all the time?"
I'm not sure I ever get this question from strangers, so it took me off guard.  I realized my hand was on my neck, and that I must have been rubbing it.  "Not as much as I used to be." I replied.
"I can't imagine," he said "You must be a very strong woman.  How long have you had it?"
"Two and a half years." I said.
"Well, it seems like you are at peace with it, the way you carry yourself.  And you have such a genuine smile.  I hope they find a cure for you, but if they don't, keep smiling."
There are good people in this world.  I thanked him, and told him I appreciated it, and yes, I was in a place of peace.  There was some more small talk between the two of us, before he got off at his stop, and wished me well.
All these interactions happened in one day.  Perhaps I was hyper aware of them, because I was actually self conscious, going out into enormous hubs of people.  Maybe it was that they were completely new conversations.  I'm not really sure why they struck me so, but they did, and they've been lingering in my mind for a week.  There were plenty more interactions throughout the weekend, including a waitress being utterly confused by my head shaking when she asked if we were ready to order, and a gentleman on the train ride home, who felt the need to tell me I was possessed by the devil, and that I needed to follow God's plan, and do his work.  There was also hours of conversation and laughter, with friends I hadn't seen in over a year or more.  By the time I returned home, my head was flooded with all that had happened over the weekend.  Some of the conversations I had left me puzzled as to why any human being would be so rude, and others left me with a sense of pride that I am part of the human race.
After a week of brewing this blog,  what I realize is, my life is far from dull.  Although the tremor has caused me great distress, it has also given me some really priceless experiences.  It has allowed me to see that none of us are perfect, in our eyes, or in the eyes of others.  I've met people who have taught me what I don't want to have in my life, and I have met people who have reinforced what I do want.  I'm constantly learning how to stop holding onto the negativity of people's ignorance, and instead take with me, the positivity of their actions and words.  Last weekend was chock full of experiences and interactions for me to learn from.  I'm still processing.  And I'm still wondering if I'm going to run into that creepy guy on the first train, or if the guy who claimed I was possessed by the devil has been forgiven by his God for making such an asinine comment.

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