Why I’m Not In Brussels and It’s Okay

Why I’m Not In Brussels and It’s Okay

First, listen.

The plan was to go to Brussels in December, right after my 28th birthday. It was supposed to be momentous, it was supposed to be inspiring. A fresh new year on this earth and a bold new perspective just waiting to be taken on. I was going to the burial place of Saint Dymphna, who you’ve definitely, definitely never heard of unless you’re one of my best friends still making fun of me for consciously choosing Dymphna as my confirmation name. She had a shamrock in her picture and I was pretty into being Irish when I was 13. Years later, my dad would inform me that she is the patron saint of the mentally ill, giving me a new-found pride and interest in my strange, Irish name.

I began doing research and found her patron city, a place called Geel in the Belgian countryside, not only had a church in her honor, but also had an unorthodox (not to mention fascinating and effective) way of treating their mentally ill. Rather than shutting them away in some sterile hospital, they live as boarders among the people of the town, in their homes. In this way, they contribute to the househould, interact with adults and children alike, and are not treated as pariahs simply because they have a mental illness. This had blown me away, I’d never heard of anything like this. And I was inspired by the simple fact that my random little confirmation namesake had been the inspiration behind it. But maybe it wasn’t all that random, what about that whole fate thing? Needless to say, I had been inspired to learn more, to research, to visit her burial site, find some inspiration for a future novel (I know, I know), it has become my Mecca.

Soooo, that was my plan. Birthday, Belgium, book research, etc.

Then, on November 13th, I was having dinner at a pub somewhere along the Hudson when the news cut across every television set to report that a terror attack had occurred in a concert venue in Paris. And as we watched in sadness and horror and pain for most of the weekend, the word “Belgium” kept popping up and “Brussels” too. I kept watching in a sort of numbed state, feeling conflicted for many, many reasons, but mostly hoping no one else had noticed how often the city I was planning to visit kept being mentioned in connection with a terrorist cell.

For weeks after, my family and friends repeatedly asked me, So, what are you going to do? And I kept responding that I didn’t know, I wasn’t sure. And then, one night, perhaps after an especially long day, my mother asked me once more what I was going to do about my trip and I started feeling panicked. My throat started to tighten up. I was walking down Metropolitan Avenue when heat started to spread across my cheeks at the idea that I might not go on this trip. I started yelling, not necessarily at my mom but moreso at the situation and at these monsters who attacked a crowd of music fans, that it wasn’t fair that they had this sick power, that this was exactly what they wanted, putting fear into the hearts of innocent people, scaring travelers away from beautiful cities like Paris and Brussels. And I shouldn’t let them win, I couldn’t! And I burst into tears on the street, overwhelmed with anguish over the predicament I was put in. Could I comfortably travel alone to this country? Would I be scared the whole time? Was that a wimpy thing to consider?

I’ll let you in on an ill-kept secret: I’m anxious. I worry. I think too far ahead, sometimes I scare myself out of things.

I cancelled my trip and rebooked it, not without a heinous change fee, and planned to head to Brussels (and Bruges! And Geel! Such plans!) in May. Everything happens for a reason, they say. And I kept running with this idea. I got very intensely drunk on my birthday in the absence of Belgian waffles and beer and woke up the following morning thinking, Luckily that trip got cancelled because this hangover would not have flown well. I also would have missed New Year’s in Brooklyn, and instead I had a party with some of my best and closest friends, danced the night away at my favorite bar, and I shared a first kiss with someone new. Silver linings, right?  Right.

I take you now to March 22nd, where I woke up to the news that Brussels airport had been the target of a terror attack. Following the news, a number of text messages came through, checking in: Did you see the news? Yes, I saw the news. What are you going to do? I don’t know.

I know this sounds like Groundhog Day, and it didn’t feel far off. I had the same cycle of confused feelings. I should just go! I’m going!… Maybe I shouldn’t go! Along with these feelings, the airport had been shut down for nearly a month for forensic investigations. I mean, it was the site of a terror attack. My brain was going bonkers and I just didn’t quite know what to do with it all. When I called the airline to see what my options were for once again postponing my trip, the customer service rep made a comment like, Maybe you shouldn’t travel anywhere if this keeps happening. Making the suggestion I might be the jinx causing all of these catastrophic events which sounds terrible, probably, but I had considered the same thing.

So it took several weeks of talking to the airline, spending hours in the kitchen at work looking so distraught my coworkers asked if I was okay. And I was okay, in the general sense, but I was beginning to feel defeated, too. I considered alternatives; changing my flight to some other far-flung country and hoping this jinx I might have (or be?) wouldn’t hurt whichever destination I chose.

But here is where I will remind you of that secret: I’m anxious. I worry about terrorism (insofar as on a regular LIRR train ride I’ll stare at an “abandoned” bag in my car and spend the entire ride considering how I can save myself and this train full of people from this very clear and obvious bomb, only to realize it is very much a non-bomb gym bag and the dude it belongs to just got off the train with it) and I worry about the money in my bank account, I worry about things beyond my control more often than I should, for prolonged periods of time. Everyone who told me I should go anyway was right. More right than I care to admit, because we are only young once and if I were to die on this soul-inspiring trek to Belgium then so be it, right? What’s the sense in living in fear? There isn’t any sense in it at all. And yet…

I had been scheduled to depart for Brussels on the evening of May 11th, and my Google calendar made no attempt to hide me from this sad reality, mostly because I had failed to delete my travel plans once they had been changed. Instead of an evening flight out of JFK, on May 11th, I was halfway through my two weeks notice, on the precipice of a new adventure. I was halfway through saying my goodbyes to all of the people I’ve worked with for the last two years so that I could move on to the next great step in my life.

So it’s not Belgium, it’s exit interviews. It’s not Dymphna, it’s funemployment. It’s momentous and inspiring in its own way, as new jobs tend to be, and there’s a good chance it might have never happened if I were in Belgium right now. Silver linings, right? Right.

(I’ll get there. It’s my Mecca.)

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On Bern-ing…

On Bern-ing…
Note: I’d like to preface this by saying that I’ve never written anything like this before and I am not doing it with any malicious intent, nor am I looking to bully anyone who feels differently than me. Please, if you choose to respond, keep my intentions in mind.

First, listen (loud).

I first took interest in the presidential election circus when I was 16 years old; too young to vote, too old to ignore the madness. I remember staying up late on a school night with “Kerry” written on my cheeks, cheering every time he had a victory over George W. Bush. I remember being hopeful for change, for something new, something that aligned with all of these fresh new ideas in my young mind. When he lost, I felt defeated. I hugged my friends as they hung their heads and I tried to be positive. Only four more years. That’s what everyone says, right?

Four years passed, I was old enough to vote. And you have no idea how excited I was to vote. I made the pilgrimage on that November Tuesday from the north Bronx to Long island because it was my goddamn right as an American. Even though the entire concept of the electoral college had confounded me for my entire educational experience, I wanted to exercise my minute, minuscule wage of power. So I rocked the vote like MTV told me to, and I wore the stickers, and I let myself get really, really excited about another presidential candidate. And he won. And that was so cool and I was so damn pumped. I remained pumped for four years. Then he ran for re-election and I voted for him again and I watched the poll results with a battalion of butterflies battling inside my ribcage. And he won again and we celebrated over cold beers at one of my favorite bars (hi Good Co, still miss you). We felt like maybe the world wasn’t as screwed up as we thought it was.

I thought, this is politics, huh?

It’s not so bad, if you’re winning.

A lot of people complain that Bernie Sanders supporters are obnoxious. As one of them, I might agree. But there’s a reason for it. More often than not, I begin to talk about him with the sense that whoever’s listening is writing me off as a tin foil hat-wearing conspiracy theorist, but I’m okay with it. I continuously lambaste the media for not giving Bernie nearly as much press coverage as the other candidates even when his rallies in New York City pull in more people than can fit into Madison Square Garden. And if there’s any coverage at all, it’s saying that Bernie’s got a snowball’s chance in hell to win the bid. There’s plenty of rea$on$ for that.

(Here is where I might link you to a bunch of credible YouTube videos that further prove the media bias where they brush him off as nothing but a little thorn in the side of the Clinton campaign, but I’m not going to do that. You’re welcome.)

I like him because he’s Bernie. Because he has wild white hair and a thick Brooklyn accent, even after years of living in Vermont. His family came to America to escape persecution, he grew up relatively poor, he was lucky enough to attend college, his eyes were open. That last part is the most important, for Bernie Sanders and for me, and for you, too. One of the first things I learned about Bernie was his involvement in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. For me, growing up, the Civil Rights movement was the single most important human rights movement in American history, in reaction to the significant, disgusting, unfathomable wrongs occurring within our country for an embarrassingly long amount of time. Do I want a president with the same ideals of Martin Luther King, Jr.? Yes. Yes, I do. Because we still need help.

I’m going to be brutally honest with you: I like Bernie because he excites me. My ears perk up at the mention of his name, the sight of his gap-toothed smile makes me, in turn, break out in a smile. When he talks, I just want to listen. (Sidenote: have you heard him say “quagmire“?) So much in this country, in this world is broken, but he makes me feel like it’s not irreparable, and that’s all I can ask for. There are countless running jokes about how you can’t trust politicians, how they change masks to suit their needs (not naming names or anything…), but Bernie’s had that same determined look on his face since he got into the game. Hell, since he was writing for his college newspaper. People ragged on John Kerry for being a flip-flopper, and even though I supported him, I saw their point. But when I look at Bernie, he’s standing on a solid foundation of ideals and beliefs that he’s been standing on since the 1970’s and I take comfort in that. I take comfort in how passionately he cares about us, as a nation, fixing what is broken, of righting what has been so, so, so wrong. We deserve better, you know?

I never understood campaign finances. It always made me angry to know that the candidates with the most money were the ones more likely to win. I think the anger and resentment comes from the fact that I grew up relatively poor (and I say this as a person basically living paycheck to paycheck to this day, thanks Sallie Mae!) with very little financial help to be the girl on top. Insofar as going to lacrosse camp to be a starter on the JV team, or taking SAT prep classes to get into a better college, or even just getting a math tutor because, lord, trigonometry, no. Money helps. Money talks. Money wins. The best lacrosse teams in high school were always from the schools with the wealthiest demographic. To me, it made perfect sense. They had the resources, they had the facilities, their programs had been around for decades and decades, of course they would kick our butts, we’d only just started five years prior. (I didn’t realize until I started writing this paragraph what a fitting analogy my high school lacrosse program would be for this post but, thanks Lady Mustangs! Sorry not sorry I quit after sophomore year! Viva la revolución!) My point being, the money shouldn’t matter so much. But it does.

Listen, there’s nothing that exhausts me more than old white dudes in positions of power. But when I look at my alternatives, I’ll stick with this old white dude because he’s the candidate with the most progressive ideas, the one who doesn’t deny climate change, the one who cares about the 99%, the one with the lowest bottom line on his tax return, the one who isn’t a demagogue, the one who doesn’t incite hate and hostility, the one who is not the Zodiac Killer (because Ted Cruz is not not the Zodiac Killer). When he says revolution, I want to be a part of it because I believe in it. Because I believe in the possibility of a world where everyone gets a fair shake. So hey, Gloria Steinem, kiss my butt! While guys are 100000% more attractive if they’re feeling the Bern, I’m not looking to *meet boys* by way of my presidential candidate (what even?). Yeah, feminism!

I’ll occasionally wear Bernie’s face on my t-shirt, my heart on my sleeve, wax optimistic and I won’t apologize for any of it. I’ll fight the good fight with the belief that all of our voices matter and we’ll be counted.

My eyes are open, we deserve better.

xLB

“you are your best thing.”

“you are your best thing.”

First, listen.

Today marks the 85th birthday of Toni Morrison and I would be remiss if I let it pass by without bringing attention to the prolific writer and the profound effect her writing has had on me over the years.

I read Song of Solomon when I was in high school. It was heavy. It was beautiful. Even as a thick-skulled teenager I knew I was holding a book that really meant something, even if, as I realized years later, I hardly understood what. The characters were beautiful, the story was so strange, so dark, tinged with a magical realism that I had grown to be a big fan of. I liked magic and sci-fi and fantasy, but there was something even cooler about a story that was just the slightest bit magic, almost as if you could blink and miss it. Or, like the magic required a double-take. As if to say, did that really just happen?

Milkman, Macon Dead, Pilate, Guitar, First Corinthians, Circe, all of these names burrowed deep into my memory and made their place, leaving an erie sort of presence. And when I picked up a fresh copy of the book a few years ago, they all flooded back to me in surprisingly emotional waves. I could compile a list pages and pages long of the quotes I’ve underlined between high school and now, little reactions in the margins. The lines that this woman has created over the span of her career, they are stunning. If you could put a line from a novel into a museum, you could dedicate an entire museum to Toni Morrison alone.

I followed my re-read of Song of Solomon with Sula and then Beloved, two novels I had (stupidly) never read before. It only deepened my love and appreciation for her writing.  She’s able to paint a picture so vivid I forget what’s her story and what’s something I’ve seen with my own two eyes. I can visualize the sticky heat of Sweet Home, smell Sethe’s cooking, smell the perfumes of Sula upon her return to The Bottom, and feel the dust off the roads from all three.

I think, in a way, she was able to make the black identity accessible to someone like me: a white girl living in New York who couldn’t know a thing about it firsthand. Yet reading Toni Morrison has always given me a rich understanding. A respect. An appreciation. She gave me a perspective other than my own, and, man, that’s so damn important.

I don’t mean to make this into a place where I’m constantly praising all my favorite writers but… it’s so easy. And they’re so amazing. And the reading that I’ve done in my life has formed me into the person that I am today, and the writing that I do. I want to end this with another quote from Toni and it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite one. But she’s been able to develop such real and rich female characters and relationships that have always screamed from the pages to me. I never wanted to be Hagar, but I sort of liked Pilate’s vibe (lack of bellybutton, et al). And Sula and Nel’s friendship was so real. Ah, okay. I’m nerding out, aren’t I?

I’ll leave you with this:

“In a way, her strangeness, her naiveté, her craving for the other half of her equation was the consequence of an idle imagination. Had she paints, or clay, or knew the discipline of the dance, or strings, had she anything to engage her tremendous curiosity and her gift for metaphor, she might have exchanged the restlessness and preoccupation with whim for an activity that provided her with all she yearned for. And like an artist with no art form, she became dangerous.” Sula, Toni Morrison

(And, hey, if you’re sitting there and have never read Morrison, BORROW MY BOOKS IMMEDIATELY.)

Photo used here is street art of Toni Morrison in Vitoria, Spain.

february 14th: it’s just another day

february 14th: it’s just another day

First, listen.

I was twelve years old when I had my first Valentine’s Day experience. My boyfriend and I were to exchange gifts at my locker between classes, and the only reason I’d even gotten him something was because I’d been tipped off that he’d gotten me a gift. That gift, as it so happened, was a pug stuffed animal and a box of chocolates accompanied by a card declaring his eleven year old love for me. When I handed over my gift, two boxes of Sweetheart candies and an accompanying card with similar declarations of love, he was disheartened. He hadn’t yet learned the art of playing it cool and had noticed that he’d spent a considerably larger portion of his allowance than I had. It was middle school, I wasn’t making a lot back then. Even at twelve years old I was annoyed by this interaction. I didn’t mean to spend less than him, but I also didn’t care how much he had spent on me. (And, let’s be honest with eachother, how much did that pug really cost? C’mon.)

I can’t be completely certain, but that entire Valentine’s Day exchange may have been my saving grace; the thing to keep me from being a person who avidly, painstakingly cares about February 14th. And it is just a date, though I can’t blame you if you’ve been duped by it. For years and years, it has masqueraded in red and pink flowers, hearts, diamonds, fancy dinner plans, all to fool unsuspecting people into thinking that it was really a thing. It has effortlessly fooled couples into slaving away to put on a good performance on this single day of the year and has tricked single people into thinking it suddenly matters more that they’re alone than it would have on, say, February 13th. That’s quite a power to harness for a single date on a calendar.

Valentine’s Day derives from various tales of martyrdom, and was only celebrated for love and romance in the 13th century when people concluded that February 14th was the first day of mating season for birds. And like Halloween before it, we as a civilization have taken a day that meant something completely mundane and mutated it into something kind of… well, worse. And not only that, but it has, in turn, made people feel sad and dejected. I mean, to the point where a movie called How To Be Single is being released on Valentine’s Day weekend, because they are hoping to prey on all of the single ladies in the world womp-womping around because they don’t have any plans.

That’s the funny thing about Valentine’s Day. It’s supposed to be this day about love, right? The priest (Saint) Valentine defied Emperor Claudius II and continued to marry young lovers even though marriage had been outlawed in Rome (because single men made better soldiers than married men, natch!), only to be caught and executed for his crimes. Love, right? He died for love! I guess!

So I still put my love to use. Romantic love isn’t the only love, you know. And it’s the far more elusive form of love in my life, anyway. Instead, my dad has been my Valentine for the last few years, because he’s pretty cool and sometimes he sends me flowers that show up a day late, because why wouldn’t they? On Valentine’s day, I choose to revel in the card my Nana picked specifically for me, and the little candy that she attached to it. I choose to swoon over my dog because she’s really fucking cute and she loves me back no matter what. And I choose to set up dinner plans with a group of girlfriends because the power of female friendship is beyond measure. 

Getting drunk on pink wine and guacamole with a bunch of friends are the plans you wish you had last Valentine’s Day. And there might be a friend or two who will drink too much and begin to lament about better V Day’s gone by… let them. Order more wine for the table, eat more carbs than you’ve eaten in the last month, roll your eyes at all of the loved-up couples sitting at the surrounding tables (because, ugh, PDA). Get drunk! Throw condoms around the bar! Swipe your Tinder (or Hinge… or Bumble… or OKCupid, if u nasty) screen with reckless abandon! I’m telling you, these are the makings of the best February 14th you’ve ever had. Trust.

Valentine’s Day is only real if you believe it. So I choose to put it out to pasture with all those other things people tried to make me believe were real, like velour track suits, Ed Hardy in general, “meninism”, Windows phones, rainbow-colored armpit hair, and YOLO (wishful thinking).

Just set a reminder for the morning of February 15th. You’ll probably have a headache from all the rosé you were drinking, but those recently discounted heart-shaped Reese’s peanut butter cups aren’t going to eat themselves.

Featured image by Elmo Hood

“I have so much I want to tell you, and nowhere to begin.”

“I have so much I want to tell you, and nowhere to begin.”

First, listen.

I woke up on January 27, 2010 to learn that J.D. Salinger had died. I was 22 years old.

Throughout the course of the day, I received messages from family and friends checking in to see how I was doing, if I was okay. I guess you can say I was the walking cliche who had read The Catcher in the Rye in high school and felt forever changed by it. But it wasn’t because I connected with Holden Caulfield. In fact, a lot of his ideas of the world bored me and made me roll my eyes. I have my cynical moments but I’d like to think I see the world with even just the thinnest veil of optimism. It was deeper than the main character, deeper than this beautiful setting of New York City, a place I hadn’t truly tapped into yet as a teenager in the suburbs of Long Island. There was something in the way that Salinger wrote that grabbed me by the metaphoric lapels and shook me. Perhaps it was the conversational way that he told his story through Holden’s narrating that made me feel like maybe he was talking directly to me. Or, to be less dreamy-eyed and naive about it, maybe I felt as if we might have a nice chat, J.D. and I, if ever he stopped being a recluse in Cornish, New Hampshire. (I held out hope for this very scenario until the day he died.)

I constantly wondered what it might be like to live inside his head, to have written these characters who are just a step or two outside of being mentally and/or emotionally stable. I liked it, loved it as a young person dealing with her own imperfect mind and emotions, with a family that was coming apart at the seams. The Caulfields weren’t perfect. And, with further reading, I learned that the Glass family was even less perfect than them.

I have this story I always tell of when I was 11 years old and my parents had just begun their trial separation. One of my teachers asked the class if our parents were divorced and I don’t know why she did this, I really do not. Maybe she was making some point about statistics? She was a math teacher. Or… maybe she was going through her own stuff? She was a bit weird. But I saw a number of kids raise their hands. Two, at first. Then three, four, five. I sat there with my hands under my thighs, as if to fight the inherent urge my 6th grade body had to be honest about my life. These jokers were all lying. There was no way the most popular girl in our grade had divorced parents! How could she have ever gotten to be so cool? You know? Because my parents fought and I didn’t sleep very well and I was nervous around boys and sometimes I cried for no real reason. Those were not the makings of a popular girl. Not that my lack of popularity was the fault of my parents’ impending divorce, but I assumed, at the time, that it certainly would not help. And so I had no other choice but to assume everyone else was lying and looking to embarrass the sole person (me) who really did have divorced parents and admitted it in front of the class.

The point is, it took me a long time to realize that the strange badness that I dealt with wasn’t just mine. It wasn’t just me. And figures like Salinger were able to help me realize it.

Plus, his writing. His writing. It’s so good in that it’s not overwrought with pretension and yet you feel like you’ve gained something new; perspective, amusement, sadness, introspection.

Senior year of high school, I was writing college admission essays and one of the schools asked for the applicant to write an extra chapter for the book of the applicant’s choosing. It could have been anything in the world. I chose, of course, to tack a chapter on to the end of The Catcher in the Rye. Post-revelation that Holden had been in a mental hospital since Page One. (I digress here but I feel I have to tell you about the chapter: Holden sitting on a bench in the hospital’s courtyard beside Jane Gallagher who had surprised him with a visit. They talked about Allie and Phoebe and their old days of playing chess, and then a light rain started to fall, and everyone else scattered inside, but not Holden, and not Jane. They sat in the rain with Holden’s hand clamped onto hers and he closed his eyes and leaned his head back and felt a little sliver of peace for once in his goddamn life.) This was an ungraded assignment but I went to my AP English teacher and asked for feedback. It was over ten years ago but I’m assuming I’ll never forget her lilting cursive in red ink telling me that my extra chapter sounded eerily identical to something Salinger himself could have written.

(Though, I imagine Salinger might have ended it with a suicide attempt, if you want to know the truth.)

Maybe that’s the proof of how he helped me. He didn’t grow up with this book like I had. I saw Holden finding peace, much like the way I, at seventeen years old, was hoping I would find it. And somehow, between the lines of phonies and prostitutes and children running through a field of rye, I was able to see the glimmer of possibility.

Anyway… Thank you.

empathy and the city

First, click.

This evening I was changing from the M to the G at Court Square. This entails a rush between two separate ends of a train station. In the morning, there is a moving walkway that goes from the G to the E/M, but evenings, we are left to our own devices. We must walk. We must hustle.

On this particular evening, I found myself with a bit more pep in my step, and I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was the mounting headache, or that my day had started so incredibly early that all I wanted to do was get home at a decent hour and maybe go directly to bed. It could have been that I wanted to try to beat a new roommate back to the apartment, a roommate who does not understand how valuable it is for me to be able to relax on the couch alone to watch an episode of Jeopardy over my pathetic single-girl dinner. Whatever it was, it had me weaving quickly in between strangers, trying to anticipate whether or not they might veer right so I could step left.

I came up on a man who was very clearly elderly. He walked a bit slower, he had long white hair and a ball cap on. As I stepped around him to hustle past, I glanced down and noticed that his shoe was untied. A silent siren went off in my head. Tell him! Tell this man his shoe lace is untied! But I didn’t! Because I was in a rush. Because in New York we are constantly in a rush.

And so I moved on past him and I ran down the steps because I thought the train was leaving. It wasn’t. I grabbed a seat and hugged my bag to my chest and I worried about the man and his untied shoe.

But lo and behold, look who’s come onto the subway car to sit right beside me? That same man.

I sat with my eyes ahead, and I tried to will away my headache, and I hoped and hoped that he had stopped to tie his shoe. I didn’t check, I don’t know why. Would it have been odd to point out that his shoe was untied, as we sat together in an unmoving train car? And so we carried on this way, sitting in close proximity, my peripheral vision giving me the perfect angle to see his fingers rubbing together in what I had supposed to be an anxious sort of way. Because in New York we are constantly in a state of anxiety.

As the train lingered on through Queens and into Greenpoint, I had my hopes set on getting off at the same stop as this man. I could check his laces and give him the mental a-okay to go on his way. But at Nassau Avenue, he pushed out of his seat and walked to the door, and my eyes fell to the floor where his shoelace remained untied and his feet shuffled and my heart jumped into my throat hoping no one would step on the rogue lace. I swallowed back my self-hate for the moment as I tried to find him through the closing door. I kept willing him to stop and tie his shoe. Please, please, please. But I’d lost him. Perhaps because he’d knelt down to fix his shoe?

And there he was again, the lag in his reappearance in the train car window just long enough for someone to have retied their shoelace. I felt a little wave of relief, but I felt a lot of sadness. We continued on, further into Williamsburg, and my eyes were stinging with fresh tears. It was something so simple as telling someone their shoe was untied, and yet I didn’t have the time. Right? I didn’t have the time to be kind to a stranger. That’s what it all came down to. And it really broke my heart.