I went to Ryerson University in Toronto for my journalism degree. I was taking a course on non-fiction writing and one of our assignments was to write about a recent experience. The following is a story I wrote about an evening in 1995.
I was sitting on the subway. Feeling fat, loveless and cranky. On Feb.14.
It was late at night, around 10:30. A woman and a little girl got on the train. I wondered what the girl was doing up so late on a school night.
People were scattered everywhere in the car. There was a man with big glasses sitting across from me. My roommate reading a book beside me. The mom and girl sitting a couple of rows down. But I didn’t turn to look at anyone. I didn’t want to see them.
I was drowning in the hum of the subway and the problems of the world. With me in it. How the ozone layer is dying. How children are starving. How humans are killing each other. How Valentine’s Day is just one more day to make money out of something that I can’t even get for free. How far away I feel from home. My real home in Nova Scotia with a dog and cats and warmth and family and friends. How cold the bright lights of the underground are. Making everything harsh. Making the blemishes stand out clearly. The red pimple on my roommate’s nose, the greasiness of that guy’s big glasses, dirt and grime and grossness.
Then I heard someone singing. And I turned around.
All I could see was the top of a beret further down the train. I stood up. Looked.
A woman, sitting alone, was singing. She was singing “Everything’s going to be okay. Everything’s going to be all right.”
I recognized the tune; a Bob Marley song. Other heads turned. The woman with the child smiled. The man with the glasses picked up his head. My roommate put down her book.
For a moment, the world stood still and I actually believed the minstrel. For moment, I believed everything was okay. Everything was all right. For a moment, everybody listened and everyone heard.