In a few minutes they were gone and I was out of the subway. Charles Street gleamed in bright sunshine; every dog looked newly washed. I walked through the Public Gardens. Will the memory of that couple rule my thoughts? I asked myself. I was determined that it would not. A crowd gathered near a temporary fence. Within the enclosure was a pair of swans, one nesting. She moved only her neck, preening. Farther on was a human couple: affectionate, laughing, watching the Swan Boats pass on the little pond. Two young men played flute duets near the verdigris bridge. I dropped quarters into the dark blue velvet-lined instrument case and went on across the Gardens, across Arlington Street, and down Newbury, turning back, returning along Commonwealth Avenue. Soon I was back on Charles Street. It was two o'clock; I was hungry. I looked into the window of Bin 26, a wine bar; the place was empty. Usually I don't go into empty restaurants, but this one had a serene appeal. I took a table near the window and lunched on potato and leek soup and prosecco--all delicious, the bread too--and did not think about what I had seen on the subway. If good can cancel bad, can bad cancel good? I've decided not to let that happen. How? By increasing the good.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Good & Bad
Does good cancel out bad? I used to think not; I used to think they went on side by side, but I've changed my mind. Yesterday a couple got on the red line at Kendall Square in Cambridge and sat across from me. I noticed their hair: the exact same shade of toffee brown. She wore no makeup; with her upturned nose and large brown eyes she didn't need any. He was lanky and wore glasses. When he took off his cap and ruffled up his hair, I could see him better: he was older than I had thought. He took her hand; she turned away. They were fighting; that is, he was fighting. Each time she turned her head away from him, he took her by the chin and forced her to look at him, pleading, 'Look at me.' She was on the verge of tears. He tweaked her nose. He forced a kiss on her. He grasped her hand and kept forcing her to look at him, but although he succeeded in moving her head, he could not compel her eyes. She did not look at him. I wish I had done something, but he was crazed, more and more insistent, his eyes narrowing behind his glasses. What might I have done? Emptied my purse on the subway floor, asked for his help in retrieving my things, and whispered to her, began singing, Unacceptable behavior, unacceptable behavior? The truth is I was paralyzed, repelled, hardly believing what I saw.