• SAMC

Reaching out through the crowd

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

I have been watching the rising number of daily infections of the coronavirus across the country, and now in our city, with a dread that feels far away. It’s been so many months of anxiety-inducing news and suffering that seems like it will never end, I feel unable to face the possibility that all of this might get worse before it gets better. I feel past the point of overwhelmed. I feel like I just want to walk away, but there isn't really anywhere to go. Maybe then I think I can, ostrich-like, just bury my head and disengage.

When I was young, I visited my mom, who lived in London, every summer. One day we had a train to catch and we were rushing to get to the station to make our departure time. We came up out of the subway at the busiest time of day. I was small and was getting buffeted by elbows and luggage as we made our way to the exit gates that led up into the train station. My mom went through the gate ahead of me, putting her ticket into the reader. The gate closed behind her and she moved on with the wave of humanity.

I put my ticket into the reader but it beeped twice and the gate didn’t open. I put my ticket in again and again. Each time, the same beeping resulted. A desperation rose in my throat. I couldn’t see my mom anymore. I had no idea where I was or how to get back home. I had no idea where she was going. I was surrounded by strangers. I had no money or food or phone. I imagined for a second her disappearing and my being stuck there, completely lost and alone forever. It’s the same feeling that I have right now. Everything feels so dark and so unknowable and in my panic, I just want to go hide and make it all go away.

But on that day so many years ago, I knew that my mom was somewhere just ahead of me and so I did what instinct told me to do. I cried out loud. And when a kindly tube worker who operated the luggage gate noticed and let me through without bothering about my ticket, I went sprinting ahead through the crowds, jostling to make some progress at a faster rate than everyone else. I called out her name. I sprinted up the escalator until, finally, in the enormous airplane-hangar of the station lobby, I spot