“We’re being held due to traffic, we appreciate your patience.”
Rolling of eyes, shifting of body weight, and heavy sighs took over my train car.
“The MTA ain’t shit,” mumbled the woman seated to the left of me as she adjusted her headphones.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being annoyed to the pause. 8:45 on a Tuesday evening? I was tired, and in need of my bed and Real Housewives of New York City. But this was normal. We stop for a few minutes, struggle through the tunnels, but eventually we got to our destination 4 or 5 minutes after our original due time. Or so I thought.
We sat in a dark tunnel for 49 minutes. 49 minutes of disgruntled commuters complaining. 49 minutes of time wasted. But 16 minutes of a conversation I’ll probably never forget.
“What’s for you will not pass you. If that ain’t the truth,” A elderly woman next to me read the quote on my Alex and Ani bracelet.
“I love this saying, one of my favorite reminders,” I replied her.
“Glad you know it now,” she laughed, “While you’re young and got time to enjoy life!”
“You can still enjoy life,” I chuckled, “That has nothing to do with age.”
“Oh, ain’t you a know it all. I suppose you’re right.”
“Folks we’re going to be here for awhile, there is a faulty switch at 125th. We appreciate your patience.”
I introduced myself to Ms. Sophia. She asked me to call her Sophia. The Nigerian in me knows better. Ms. Sophia and her husband are New York natives, and have been married for 26 years. She’s been an administrative assistant for most of her life at various universities because she loves the youth of today, even though she thinks we’re “wildly irresponsible.” She’s full of smiles, questions, and a weird elderly innocence. But what’s remarkable about Ms. Sophia, was her encouragement, words of wisdom, and faith in me without even knowing me.
“You have gorgeous skin, Ms. Yetti. Do you like your skin?” I’ve never been asked this question before. I actually wanted to laugh.
“I love my skin. All of it.”
“All of it?” She peered over her glasses in disbelief, but I stood firm in my answer. I’ve never had an issue with my skin tone. I’m chocolatey, that’s the only way I know how to be. It’s fucking amazing.
“Yep, all of it,” I responded.
“What about what’s underneath it?” Trick question?
“Still working on that. But I’m almost there, I think I like myself more and more everyday. It’s definitely a process though,” I admitted.
“That’s good! You should always like yourself! You’re all you’ve got, you know! Well, till you get married, and have some children.”
She explained that she’s seen many girls fall victim to the strong dislike of themselves. One of her favorite students jumped from the Brooklyn bridge to her death. We discussed Certified 10, naturally, but before the train started to move again, she left me with a note of encouragement.
“You’ve got to persevere with your faith. Faith builds dreams. You honey, your dream is life changing, and you’re going to need all the faith you can get to push that one through. It’s a really special one. But you’ve got a good head on your shoulders, you’ll do it. I know you will.”
Thank you Ms. Sophia. I’ll hold onto my faith. Just as you said.