"I love your shirt" I said to a woman I was pressed against on the subway yesterday, headed to the city for the second day in a row of doctor's appointments, check-ups to check that I am headed to 40 in good health.
The shirt was a bright orange, ruffled, fabulous. (The crowded subway car, sadly, offered little opportunity for picture-taking.)
"Thanks!" the orange-wearer said, smiling and pulling out her headphones. "My boyfriend says it's garish, and the only reason people compliment me is because it stands out..."
I shrugged. "But that's the point...you are bold enough to stand out, to not give a #@$% what other people think. People admire that."
She nodded, boyfriend be damned. "It's refreshing, right?"
"Absolutely!" I said, looking around at the morose faces. "Especially on the subway..."
My fellow orange lover smiled and put her headphones back in, got re-absorbed in her book. I didn't want to bother her by continuing the conversation further. I, did, though, quickly hand her a gold star as she stepped off a few stops later. "Thank you!" She said heartily.
I didn't have time even to thank her back. The boldness embodied in her shirt was a good reminder on a strangely fear-provoking morning, on what turned out to be a strange tornado-filled day, to try to push back the panic and move through the day on my own terms, to face head-first whatever came my way.
Conversations abound around me all morning about bedbug infestations, time-sucking train delays, preparations for impending storms, and the worries had started to creep in. In reality, I've had a bedbug scare before on which I spent roughly $1,000 on extermination and dry-cleaning of imaginary bugs, so I know all too well what to do should it actually happen. (Frankly, I refuse to stop picking things up off the street, it gives me way too much joy.)
As for train delays, the woman ahead of me's dire warning of "massive problems with the train" as I walked into the normal-for-rush-hour crowd on the platform was, as I'd guessed, totally unfounded. The train came within a minute.
And the rain? My husband and younger son's warnings to "be prepared" for the storm that blue skies in the morning did not at all foretell, proved fruitless. A rainjacket or umbrella would have done nothing to protect me had I been out in the gale-force winds that hit Park Slope. Luckily, using my brain, I "prepared" by staying inside my friend's house, away from the windows, as all hell broke loose outside, all around us.
Gold stars go out to those who suffered losses during the storm, the likes of which I've never seen except in the movies, in The Wizard of Oz.
"God is not happy with us," my little orange-shirt-clad Oscar said, shaking his moppy head as we drove through the tree-strewn streets of Park Slope filled with shocked people.
Hard to know who or what's in charge. But one thing is for sure: There is so much outside of our control, and there is often very little we can do except try, try to stay calm and cool-headed, try to develop our own certainty, our own boldness, our own orange-shirted bravado, in the face of uncertain circumstances.