Lend me Your Ears and I'll Sing You a Song
Today on the train into the city a small weathered Hispanic man made his way to the front of the cart with a guitar in hand.
I was doing a million things at once in my mind- convicting myself to turn off candy crush and start reading the book at the bottom of my backpack. But drake played through my headphones and spoke to my lazy day so l laid back in my subway seat and settled in.
The Hispanic man was hustler #3 on my train for men trying to make a quick buck.
- Man #1 told a story of despair- he'd been homeless, hungry and hurt for months and needed help. Pulling at several people's heart strings, they dug into the corners of their purses for some change to offer.
- Man #2 played the coo-coo card and rambled his way through some broken sentences, which struck a different cord in other train riders, who pulled out their wallets and offered up their dollars in empathy.
- And finally, there was my man, man #3-he brought his voice and his guitar. He started slowly, and as he strummed- a memory knit itself back together in the forefront of my mind. With every cord my heart beat with joy and nostalgia.
Man #3 played a Spanish song, one that I can remember hearing from a very young age. One that is usually sung by a woman, which played with my mind as I tried to make the complete connection.
Then all together it arrived and I remember a specific memory tied to the music. I remember being at a Mexican restaurant, still small enough that I had to sit up on my knees to see clearly over the table, watching my mom watch the mariachi band play this song. She was so happy at first, connecting with the words and replaying her own memories with the tune in her head.
She would close her eyes and sway her head and sing along and I liked watching her.
But as the song played on, I watched her eyes and I felt her joy shift to sadness.
I made the connection that my mom was mourning the loss of her dad who had just passed away a year earlier. She didn't cry dramatically, or let the tears roll down her face, she held her head high and entertained the memories. She missed and loved and wanted her dad back.
And you know what happened next?
I snapped back into reality and found myself on the Manhattan bound A train with the same expression my mom had, feeling the same way she did- missing the memories and wishing she could have her parent back.
I miss home, I miss my mom and my dad and my family. New York is a whirlwind, full of beauty and creativity and noise and rush. And even though I'm caught up in the excitement of it almost always, my roots keep finding me in the most unexpected places. They come in songs, in faces, in smells, in words. They sneak up on me and remind me who I am.
And they whisper to me "come home, home misses you."
My New York song is full of highs and lows, it starts slowly, gracefully- and picks up pace. It begs the listener to spin and twirl and stay dizzy. It's a rush and it's madness and it's like nothing I've heard before. But just now, it's picked up a familiar tune and its asking me to lean in.. to really pay attention at what's going to happen next.
I hand the man a dollar and he asks me, "Where's home for you?"