This morning on the bus on the first leg of my commute to school, while looking out the window I saw two young men walking and talking. Then I saw them both turn to look behind them; naturally I was curious as to why. As the bus made its turn, I saw another young man running toward them, laughing, while simultaneously trying to eat (looked like a patty) what he was holding. Though there was nothing remarkable about either them or the scene, it has stayed with me.
All three boys were somewhere in the fifteen to seventeen year age range, black, slim, sporting differing yet strikingly similar versions of the “nappy-headed” coolness, looking like clones of each other with their black jeans, t-shirts, sneakers (probably rivalling my five hundred dollar pumps in cost) and versions of bomber jackets (wait… are they still called ‘bomber jackets”? Please excuse my ageing myself!). They all had back-packs, so I assume like me, they were headed to school. They were strolling however; not mirroring my nerd-like eagerness to hurry up and get to where I was going!
The few moments they were in my line of sight were enough for me to take in their physical selves and devise a reality of their lives. I watched their good-natured smiles and as the bus stopped and the doors opened, I caught on the wind, the tail-end of their laughter. It tickled me to see the one behind doing his best at multi-tasking – that patty needed to be eaten mid-lopes. I remember wondering, “What time does school start for these young men that are moving without a care in the world?” I remember shaking my head in casual affection envisioning their being quite late.
As I lost sight of them a new train of thought infiltrated – I realized the possibility of that being the only glance I would ever have of these young men – in part because of the reality of our moving through this space un-synched; but mostly because I was watching men at their most vulnerable – black, young… potential targets. So as my mind raced I began to worry at the reality of their death, life being snatched away from them based on either their or others’ bad decisions. I became sad that those smiles could possibly never mature into manly ones – the smiles of men graduating from school, the smiles of men falling in love, the smiles of men trying to “man up” through a broken heart, the smiles of men getting their first “real” job, the smiles of men buying their mothers her first home, the smiles of men on their wedding day, the smiles of men holding their children. The smiles of men…
Let me stand corrected – there was absolutely something “remarkable” about these three young men… they were alive.