Thursday, July 9, 2015
The street cars stop right outside our hotel. They are gorgeous and I could sit and watch them all day. Each one is different. Some cars are local but many are not. They were brought here for restoration and preservation; functional nostalgia.
We rode a car from end-of-line to end-of-line. We clacked our way through the city and jumped at the sparks that hissed from above. There was a particular noise that came from the ceiling, a sort-of a patter, as if an giant cockroach was marching across the roof. I imagined this roach powering the machine; his every step a volt that sent the car along the tracks. At the end of the line I stepped out and looked up. The roach was invisible. All I could see was his antennae connected to the grid.
We are in the nitty gritty heart of the city. Diversity lives here. As does disparity. The city is a good lesson in privilege and class. Truth is we're all only a dysfunctional ganglion (or two) away from those folks sleeping in the rain.
There are so many people here with their hands out. In want. In need. It's hard to know when to give and when to hold back. Despite our privilege money is finite. At least in our here and now. And so we must choose.
We gave to the man asking for nothing but smiles (and he gave genuine smiles in return).
And we gave to the man sitting in a alcove with a typewriter. Free poems. Donations accepted. Pick a topic, any topic.
I choose streetcar.
He gave me this, hunting and pecking his way into my heart.
And then he gave us a reading, leaning back into the alcove and projecting his voice so all the world could hear.
It's raining now and I have the urge to run into the street yelling 'Stella!' at the top of my lungs. I'm sure I wouldn't be the first nor would I be the last. Instead I'm going back up to our room. I'm going to talk to my girls about what it is to be us and what it might feel like to be someone else. Then I'm going to ask them to each write a poem; about any topic their heart desires.
"To travel is to live." ~ Hans Christian Anderson