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Take one, pass it on 
25th-Aug-2011 06:32 pm

A torn page from a diary. Written in pencil in a large round hand are the words "It's OK." Underneath and smaller, "smile". A smiley face is drawn next to them.

Twitter followers may have noticed that I had a breakdown this morning.

I’ve been single for exactly three months today, and while I’m not having frequent fits of hating myself and despairing over no hope in my life, it’s not exactly an easy three months.  Since submitting my PhD corrections last week especially, I’ve been devoting time to self care and using the respite between semesters in which I need to swim, as a time I allow myself to float.

‘Course, it doesn’t always work like that, and I haven’t been in class or teaching for a month now, and a day in which I’m not partaking in a learning experience is a shitty day anyway.

So this morning I was pottering about and I was reminded of what I once had, that I’ve now lost, and everything broke, as things are occasionally wont  to do. I took it out on Twitter (don’t look for it, I took it back. Public breakdowns on social networks are unbecoming) and sat in misery and despair and the realisation, that right now, I don’t even like myself. And I sat like that for a while before heading out on a museum trip with [personal profile] Kat.

I was still crying on the subway – and perhaps listening to Fleetwood Mac wasn’t helping, but. I’ve never been any good at preventing or ceasing tears; while I have improved with the former, I don’t happen to think that’s very good for my mental health. So I sat and knitted and waited for the tears to stop coming.

The 4-train was busy, but not packed: everyone had a place to sit. Opposite me was a man in his mid to late thirties and a shaven head, and next to him sat a girl of middle school age, 12 to 14. She may have been with an adult, but she wasn’t too young to be taking the subway on her own. I think I thought she was with the man next to her, as she seemed to be having a conversation with him. At one point she wasked for some paper, I assume (music, remember) because the man next to me leaned over and handed her a torn out page from his diary, which she thanked him for and wrote on.

When she got off the train at Borough Hall, she dropped the note into my lap.

I was so shocked, I only had time to look up, and I hope communicate gratitude before she left. I could only cover my nose and mouth to stop from crying even harder and stare at the man opposite, as I have to process what this girl has done.

She saw a stranger in pain, and she reached out to fix that however she could.

And she reminded me that it is OK. Because yes, life sucks sometimes, but people do not.  Because it comes down to it, we got each other’s back, and it’s OK to cry on the subway sometimes, and it’s OK to not know where I’m going or how to make peace with where I am now, because there are people in the world and in this city who can see someone in pain, and reach out to them. Because compassion is in all of us, and for all of us, if we give and are willing to receive it. And even if I’m thousands of miles from home, if I cannot find my smile of a day, someone will be there to give me one of theirs.

It then got a little rain damage in the corner, but if you don’t mind, I’d like to share it with you.

This post can also be found at Thagomizer.net. Feel free to join in the conversation wherever you feel most comfortable.

25th-Aug-2011 10:40 pm (UTC)
damn I really needed to read this now. Although buying seven comic books today did make me feel a little better. (4 Cassbooks & the latest League of Extraordinary Gentlemen at Midtown, the one I got at MoCA, and ordered the third Cass Batgirl book online when I got home.) So thanks for sharing that.
25th-Aug-2011 10:44 pm (UTC)
Comics! Let me know how the MoCA one is,

That's an awesome icon, BTW.
25th-Aug-2011 10:49 pm (UTC)
I will! I'm excited for it!

Thanks! I got it from here: http://paintingair.deviantart.com/#/d4240zo I may end up making an icon out of the Cass panel, too. So adorable.
25th-Aug-2011 10:52 pm (UTC)

Even though my comic book shopping spree (read: two whole manga volumes) happened yesterday.
25th-Aug-2011 10:58 pm (UTC)
I don't know what it is, but somehow just walking into a comic book store is instantly soothing. While being exciting all at once. Oh man now I want to buy a ton of manga >
25th-Aug-2011 11:02 pm (UTC)
I went to B&N yesterday, as I am something of a n00b to this city (Baltimore) and have not yet done a Google search on comic book stores.

Which I should seeing as how B&N insists on only having volumes 8-10 of Shmooshy Mushi-Shi.
25th-Aug-2011 11:11 pm (UTC)
A lot of B&Ns have SUCH good comic book sections! Well for a general bookstore anyway. I love how I can actually sit and read comics there, unlike at actual comics shops. Exploring new comic books shops is going to be so exciting for you! I'm jealous.
25th-Aug-2011 11:14 pm (UTC)
Oh, yeah. A friend of mine gave me the grand tour of comic stores in Manhattan last month and--yeah, cramped spaces, bad air conditioning, so on so forth. But then that B&N is in a pretty prominent spot in Baltimore so it's not like it has a lot of seating space, either. Although the manga section's always been free whenever I browsed it >D
25th-Aug-2011 11:17 pm (UTC)
Ooh that's so good! I used to live near a Borders that kept the comics/manga right near teen supernatural books, so I was always fighting the Twilight fans/12 year old manga readers for the armchairs.
25th-Aug-2011 11:19 pm (UTC)
Oh man I remember peering at the manga section in Borders and seeing at least one person camped out on the floor in front of the shelves. It was like an obstacle course.
25th-Aug-2011 11:23 pm (UTC)
hahahaha seriously, I always felt like I really earned whatever books I was able to grab.
25th-Aug-2011 11:21 pm (UTC)
My Manhattan comic store is neither cramped nor lacking in aircon. But you can't sit and read comics there, either.
25th-Aug-2011 11:22 pm (UTC)
This of course means the next time I am in Manhattan...
25th-Aug-2011 10:52 pm (UTC)
I feel like a terrible friend, but I somehow failed to realize you'd been single for the last three months. D: So, my condolences there, crap. D: But this post was amazing and it gives me so much hope about our future, when usually kids make me despair with sadness about the future.

Thank you to that little girl, and the man who gave her paper, and thank you so much for sharing it with us.
25th-Aug-2011 11:05 pm (UTC)
I'm not very good at talking about things. Not really. Not in public. This is the first time I think it's been mentioned here.
25th-Aug-2011 11:02 pm (UTC)
And now it made me cry too.

Depression is the dirty cousin of sadness and far too often I think people have an attitude of 'get over it'. Which is why the 'it's ok' part of that note is even more important.

*hugs* I hope things get better for you.
(Deleted comment)
25th-Aug-2011 11:17 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry Debi. I've been a terrible friend. I haven't asked how you've been, because I'm so far away I feel useless. I don't know what I should and shouldn't say, if there's anything I can say, or if its better to say nothing in case I make it worse.

I love you.
25th-Aug-2011 11:20 pm (UTC)
You have not been a terrible friend, Dave. You're thousands of miles away, and you did send me a message as soon as you found out.

Please don't do this to yourself.

I love you too.
25th-Aug-2011 11:27 pm (UTC)
I'm trying not to. I just feel completely useless, and this reminded me about that rather too much. Take care of yourself. 'k?
(Deleted comment)
25th-Aug-2011 11:26 pm (UTC)
This is so beautiful. So beautiful.
25th-Aug-2011 11:38 pm (UTC)
Dealing with filing the dissertation was hard enough for me without a breakup attached. Ugh. I send strengthening thoughts, and I'm glad the girl on the train found you.
26th-Aug-2011 12:01 am (UTC)
Oh that's so sweet. *hugs you*
26th-Aug-2011 12:53 am (UTC)
*hugs you*

That is a beautiful story.
26th-Aug-2011 12:57 am (UTC)
I am unable to say anything other than 'what the others above said,' but -- that is amazingly sweet, and I'm sorry for everything you're going through, and you're wonderful. ♥
26th-Aug-2011 01:39 am (UTC)
And they say New Yorkers are cold and unfriendly.

Oh, Debi, I wish so hard there were enough hugs in the world to go out to all the people who need them, and enough smiles and enough kindness. I'm so glad there was one for you when you really needed it, and thank you so much for sharing it with us.

I'm always amazed at how people are almost afraid to be kind, as if there's a limit and they don't want to use it up. Then something like this happens and it's all good again, the balance is restored for a time. Even the little things, like a tiny are you okay? can make such a difference.
26th-Aug-2011 02:22 am (UTC)
That is so beautiful. Thank you for passing it on.

*sends many, many hugs*
26th-Aug-2011 03:22 am (UTC)
That is the nicest subway story I have ever heard. (<3)
26th-Aug-2011 05:17 am (UTC)
26th-Aug-2011 05:07 am (UTC)
Aw. I'm glad there are people like that in the world.

And I'd missed that you were single for this entire three months, so belated sympathy. Breakups suck, no matter what the circumstances were.
26th-Aug-2011 09:08 am (UTC)
Oh dear - I'm very sorry to hear about your break-up. I did gather something to that effect from a recent post you made on either Facebook or Twitter (not the outbreak you refer to - I didn't see that), but neither of those places are very good for offering condolence, especially without really knowing what's happened. So thanks for finding the courage to write about it on LJ, so that we're up to speed and can offer the *hugs* you obviously need. And very well done to the subway girl for being there for you so directly and altruistically. Seeing how much her small act has meant to you is really inspiring, and I hope I'll remember it next time I have the opportunity to do something like that myself.
26th-Aug-2011 03:59 pm (UTC)
What a lovely thing to do for someone!

I'm sorry life is feeling so rubbish at the moment. I wish I could be over there for real-life-hugs, it's been way too long. :( Hope things brighten up for you soon.
26th-Aug-2011 04:48 pm (UTC)
Oh god strangers on trains.

I'll never forget the woman who was sat opposite me on the train when I came home after being told mum was in hospital, who without saying a word handed me a pack of tissues and offered me a smile when all I could do was sob my heart out. It was so simple but it made me feel like someone cared that I was hurting when everyone else was just ignoring me. I'll be grateful to her forever.


Love you Debi. I'm so glad that someone did something so sweet for you.
26th-Aug-2011 05:58 pm (UTC)
What a lovely story, and what a great kid that girl is. Thank you for sharing it.
26th-Aug-2011 08:43 pm (UTC)
Awww *hugs you lots*

I hope you feel better soon, sorry you're having a tough time.
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