I wrote a long blog post and I hated it. It was too long, too detailed and just too full of words. But this story won’t leave me so it’s gonna be birthed some how.
Here’s the short of it. It isn’t earth shattering and there is no transformational moment. But, it happened last night and it was really hard. It upset me, it scared me and it’s bothering me.
We took our boys downtown to the Chicago Theater to see The Avett Brothers. The theater was beautiful, the concert was amazing, the boys were perfect and we all had a great time. Wonderful.
One of the reasons we love Chicago and love living in Oak Park is the availability of public transportation. The traffic here is horrid and when we don’t have to drive, we are happy.
Last night we took the blue line to the concert. It was running slow and we stopped a few times while they waited for a signal to continue. It was irritating because we were already running late, but that’s just part of the deal. No complaints from the boys.
The kids are used to taking the L and we’ve met lots of interesting people on the train. I’ve always appreciated the way this has continued to open the world for our kids. We see all sorts of people and they have experienced many things. But they enjoy the ride and are happy to take it whenever we decide too. For them, anything to avoid walking.
Three stops from our destination a man got on. From the moment he boarded the train, it was clear to everyone riding that we had a volatile passenger on board. He was getting in people’s faces, yelling crazy things (Fire in the hole! I’m gonna cap him in the ass! and on and on) and pacing around the car we were in. People quickly scattered. They found new seats or moved to the opposite end of the train. We just held our seats and told the boys not to stare. It was uncomfortable and I became more and more nervous, but I knew we were getting close to the theater. And just before our stop, he walked right up to us. He moved directly in front of Will, used his hand to imitate a gun and pretended to shoot Will in the head.
“Pow!” he said.
The doors opened and we were out of there. Perfect timing, it was our stop.
Will didn’t even notice. Drew and I didn’t make a big deal of it. But it felt horrible. So upsetting to watch a very disturbed stranger pretend to shoot your 8 year old.
We do our best to teach our children not to live in fear. We do our best not to live in fear ourselves. This isn’t something that will change anything about how we live. We love the train, we love our city and we know anything can happen anywhere.
But I was an emotional wreck. The tears I held back, the frantic response I stifled, the fear I felt- it’s right there under the surface. I can still see him pointing his fingers at Will’s head. Pow.
This wasn’t a close call. Nothing bad almost happened. This was a sick person who rode the train with us for a few stops. There was no light in this man’s eyes. I don’t even think he really saw the people around him. When he stood in front of us, his mind was somewhere else.
Scary things happen. Life keeps going. But some things stay with us longer than others.
I’ll be carrying this one for awhile.