“Eat More Root Vegetables.”

What a day it’s been as I collapse into this train seat and watch a string of commuters pass me. They’ve come from all over the city and now, contained, will head north and away from the Hub. I think back on the day and realize I knew halfway through there would be things to write about. I also decided we really should get out of the office more often.

The root vegetables idea came to me as the day began and we drove through the early dark to the station. We may not know what to do about our political situation, the guns, or the fear. We’re probably not too sure whether to consider the newest suggestions of cancer-causing foodstuffs (bacon?) and related, what seems like much higher drug costs to treat this and probably everything else (ear drops for the teen this week, $65 down from $110, really?) All this uncertainty makes eating more vegetables seem like something we can actually achieve. As is my annual, small foray into the Gem District, the yearly pilgrimage I make to fetch the awards I’ll give to deserving authors next week at my conference. Today was that day!

This trek begins with the subway and its usual updates: today,  a new app that delivers alcohol to your home;  “pokethebear” (whatever that is)  being part of this dubious scheme. Another poster describes what I would call an uber uber: an app that provides more than any old taxi ride: this helps you get all the way to New Hampshire. Did you know every 4 minutes someone forgets to take his/her prescription meds? I’m glad to be reminded there’s an app to help with that. And for a change of pace, some pull-off cards for  an upcoming poetry contest. I almost take one.

Besides the posters, there’s the people: a woman sitting on the sidewalk next to a sign, “Good Karma for Sale.” The cheery Museum shop manager informs me the used bookshop I’m trying to find has moved “up the street, turn right and down 5 blocks”: I won’t try to find that on these winding cow paths today. Finally with errand complete I return to Park Street, where a busker looks my way and barks with the inviting ask, “You Look Rich!”

I’m overwhelmed as I hustle down the concrete stairway, wondering how rich he thinks I am in my $3.50 thrift store jeans, out-of-date flip phone and hat, scarf, and backpack I’ve inherited from the kids. I suppose I do possess a T Pass (partly subsidized) and a new haircut (a rescue after an unfortunate experience in a generic shop, but that’s another story.) There’s also my (work owned) laptop but it’s still probably a symbol of my useful occupation. Even though this man can’t know the debts I carry, he’s sure I have more than he does. But do I, and is it as much as he thinks?

Perhaps it is if we consider the immeasurable: the warmth of the woodstove in the (still mortgaged) home; the children (nearly) all launched; good friends; a joy giving job. There’s also my faithful dog and all our walks in this beautiful, natural world. I love this earth and the opportunities I have to notice her small things, like the sparrows sitting on the ledge of Park Street Church just as if they’re on the very horns of the altar. I am not rich by some standards, and certainly rich by others.

Now when I look out my train’s square window it’s totally dark, and hard to hold all this in my mind. The disparate thoughts are folding their tent and I don’t have or want the pegs to stretch them out. When the woman next to me answers her silent phone and briefs her friend on another friend’s cancer, I find myself whispering, “I hope she’s not too tired.”  Don’t you agree?

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