Stories Below Ground

Stories bond us together.

Stories Below Ground
Photo by Taylor Heery / Unsplash

I’m sitting on the subway in New York City.

A man gets on. He begins to speak. 

Excuse me. I don’t mean to disturb you. 

He speaks calmly, respectfully, but loudly. His voice dominates the car. 

Even though our heads are trained down, to our phones, our books, our laps, we’re listening. 

Because anything could follow. 

I’ve written a book. It’s about three children who… 

As he teases the plot, the mood shifts. People get back to their phones, their books, their thoughts for real now. 

He’s selling his book. $15. He takes Venmo, Stripe, cash, he says. He’s holding the books in his hand, each one encased in plastic. A heavy bag carrying more sits on his back.

Still no one makes eye contact.

Just as he’s about to move on, a man speaks up.

I’ll take one, brother. 

The author turns, pulls out his Stripe reader and takes the man’s credit card. After handing it back, he asks the man’s name and signs the book as he passes it over. A few people are watching now.  

The author turns to leave. 

“I’ll take one too,” a woman sitting next to the first man says softly, reaching her hand up to touch his arm. They Venmo. Again, her name is asked, the book is signed. 

As the author makes his way slowly through the car scanning for more buyers, the two readers turn toward each other, books in hand. “Have you read…” one begins. Their excited chatter fills the car.

Total strangers, now bonded by the book and the story they share. 

As are all of us.

I had the privilege of watching The Blind Boys of Alabama perform this week. They are one of my favorite groups - if you ever get the chance to see them, go. They are hope personified. They performed this song about Friendship. It reminded me of all of you. Thank you all for your friendship. ❤️