Feb 2, 2013

The story of the Bluebird

I can't believe I'd forgotten to write about the bluebird.  I can only guess that at the time it felt private so I didn't get into it, and then so much has happened since I'd just never shared it.  I've meant to.

This happened when I was in NYC at the end of last year.  It was on the night I went to Sleep No More.  Looking back over my blog it was the night of October 8, only I know it was pretty late after the show, drinks, pizza, and finally getting on the subway.  So it must have been during the first moments of October 9th, 2012.

John (my friend who I stayed with) and I got on the subway and we were still wearing our masks from Sleep No More pushed up onto our heads.  We had a bit of a ride ahead of us, and we'd just started to settle in the doors opened and a lady got on and sat next to us.  She asked what our masks were for.

When I'm in NYC I have to change, I have to adapt to a new pace and lifestyle.  I have to toughen up and fight a little more, at all times.  I have to brave heckling and unwelcome conversation from men, homeless people, and strangers daily.  It's draining for me.  I purposely close off.  For some reason though, in the split second (that felt like a minute) of deciding how to proceed with this lady sitting down with us and clearly about to engage us in conversation something inside me said, "be open", so I changed my go to reaction to shut out this stranger, and instead turned toward her and told her we'd just come from a show.

I'm not sure how old I'd guess she was.  In her 60's? I'm really bad at telling age.  She was plump.  Happy.  Jolly.  She's someones mom, I thought.  She was by herself and had a lot of stuff with her.  I was instantly curious why she was alone so late.  What was someones mom doing so late on the subway alone? Where had she come from? Where was she going to?

I liked her immediately.  It was weird.  Like how you just know sometimes that someone is good, or even a little special.  She talked my ear off the entire way, and never once did I try to nudge John to save me or get him involved in the conversation.  I spent the whole ride listening to her and asking questions.  It was bizarre, but I felt like I was supposed to see what this was all about.

I'm friendly, but I am not nor will I ever be the person who plops down and meets a friend on a subway or plane or in a line at a store.  I just don't do that.  I don't talk to strangers.

She talked first about Liam Neeson which reminded me of my mom (her crush) which led into a very long story about her sister teaching Natasha Richardson in a Montessori school and how sad it was when she died, which somehow (and I'm still not sure how this even came up) led to her singing "There'll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of dover".  At times she was a little quite, hard to hear so bits got lost on me.  But when she sang this I perked right up.

That's my Grandpas song! He sang that all the time growing up.  That song and my Grandpa are synonymous.  I was so excited I told her she was the only other person I'd ever hear sing that song.  Then just as she'd begun to as me about my Grandpa, we reached our stop.

She was a bit eccentric, but so nice.  I knew there was something about this exchange that had been special, but the skeptic in me was still waiting for the crazy to come out as I had to abruptly end the conversation and get off.  Wait for it, wait for it, brace for the crazy, I thought.  But no.  Not ever.  Not one bit.  She made our goodbye the most natural thing in the world, and actually, I was the one who came off as a awkward when I left.

As we walked to the apartment, John said he wasn't sure if I'd needed him to save me.  I said no, she was great and how weird that was that I'd just met a sweet, not one bit crazy lady that sang me my grandpas song!

One month and one day later, my Grandpa died.

When we planned his funeral I said to my mom, we have to play "There'll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of dover".  She'd forgotten about the song! It was played.  I listened to it a couple of times when he first passed, then when it was played at the funeral.  I haven't been able to listen to it since.  I don't want to.  Yet.  I'll post it here, but even when I go to get it I won't have the sound on so I don't accidentally hear.  THE SONG. 

I still keep thinking about my strange exchange.  What was that? It was different.  It was meaningful.  I knew it then and I knew it now.

In writing about it, it seems like the conversation went mom, death, grandpa.  And my mom was there visiting my grandparents when he died.  Was this a foreshadowing? It didn't pick up on death or bad news on the subway or at all over the next month and one day.  I only picked up on my grandpa.  Whatever that meant.

I was talking about this again with my mom a couple of days ago.  She said that in the final weeks of his life, my Grandpa asked about me and talked about me more than anyone.  He was constantly asking how I was doing in NYC and when the hurricane hit he kept asking if I was okay.  She said I was on his mind, and that he'd gotten a message to me.

I don't know if I believe in guardian angles, or if I even know what that means, but that's what she felt like.  I don't know how else to explain it.

But it was something.


I knew it then.

I know it still.

My Grandpa.

My bluebird.

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