I've spent the afternoon thinking about a girl I sat across from on the t-bana (subway) earlier today. She was loaded down with a heavy backpack and shopping bags, as if she was moving, and had a black lab on a leash. The pup was sleeping between her feet. She was staring out the window, and I could tell she was holding back tears. She was biting her lower lip, and her eyes were bloodshot and puffy. She just looked sad, on the verge of breaking down.
I wondered what was wrong, whether she was just having a bad day, or if she had lost a friend, or broken up with her boyfriend. She looked like she had just said goodbye to someone. I wanted to say something to her, because I've been there before, and I always have this strange feeling that I'm invisible, that I just want someone to notice that I'm upset, and tell me that it's going to be okay. But how do you break the silence with a stranger without intruding on their personal space? Maybe she wanted someone to notice, or maybe she just wanted to be alone with her thoughts.
In the end, the dog broke the ice. He stood up and I think he smelled Kitty, because my jacket suddenly became very interesting to his prodding snout. I got a wet nose, and he got an ear scratch, and the girl and I exchanged smiles. She said a few words in Swedish, but I think she was talking to the dog rather than to me. Then she got off at her stop.
It was the briefest of interactions, yet it's stayed with me all day. It's funny how a complete stranger can leave such an impression after just a few moments of sharing the same time and space.
When I got off of the subway, I started to head up the escalator and there was an elderly couple debating about the best way to ascend the stairs. I was carrying a latte in one hand, and the old lady, who was struggling with a walker, asked me, "Om jag hjälper dig, kan du hjälper mig?" ("If I help you, can you help me?") She took the latte out of my hand, and pushed the walker towards me. I carried it up the stairs, and at the top, she handed me back the latte. "Tack, vad snäll."
That reminded me of mormor.