In Transit

I was on the train last night heading home. Two young brothers–early teens–were standing in front of me. Both were wearing worn but clean clothes, one had his hoodie up, the other didn’t. Both had light jackets—too flimsy for the weather and knockoff hightop sneakers. It was a look I knew all too well. It reminded me of an entire winter I spent with a blue double-knit jacket as my “winter coat.”

They were chatting usual urban teen talk. I paid little attention until I heard one of them mention what Trump had said earlier in the day about the Pope. The other–the one with the hoodie—mumbled something. The first kid continued. “He”–referring to Trump–”said that ISIS was gonna get the Vatican…I’m mean come on!” The hoodied one mumbled again. This time, his friend wasn’t going to have it. “Hey, don’t you watch the news?” he asked. “Nah,” said the hoodied one. “Why not?” “That shit ain’t for me,” said the hoodied one in a quasi-whine. “You gotta watch the news!!” yelled his friend. “You gotta….it’s…it’s the future!” The hoodied one looked at his friend. He seemed puzzled and shocked at his friend’s passion. “Well…” His friend interrupted him with a quieter, almost gentle tone: “…and besides, there’s funny shit on there too.” The hoodied kid sheepishly nodded as the train pulled into the Livonia Avenue station which is smack dab in one of the roughest neighborhoods in New York City. “C’mon, let’s go,” said the friend and they both got off the train with their eyes darting left to right, assessing their safety with each step. And as the doors closed behind them and the train motored on, I felt something I hadn’t felt in awhile: hope. Then I said a silent prayer that God would nurture and protect them…