Connected Quiet


[Sunset from Dane Street’s Commuter Rail Bridge, May, 2016]

Environmental noises of 42.39°N, 71.09°W : ebbing and flowing traffic, sidewalk conversations in multiple languages, birds in season and, when the wind’s from the South*, commuter trains’ horns—that haunting sound now more mournful since a Fitchburg-bound commuter train fatally hit a bicyclist. (Whose name, two days later, has still not been released.)

It happened Sunday afternoon. It happened at the Park Street crossing. It happened even though the train gates had been lowered and the warning lights flashed. It happened despite pedestrians shouting to that young man on his bike to stop. Stop! It happened in my neighborhood and about an hour before I arrived. (I pretty much walk over those train tracks twice a day.)

By the time I’d arrived Park Street had been cordoned off, emergency and Somerville police and MBTA officials’ vehicles lined the length of the quarter-mile street, and the train, a hundred yards or so down the track from the accident, silently waited for its passengers to be transported to a T bus (which arrived just as I walked by.) The silent train, the silent street, the hush of the groups of people gathered along Park Street’s sidewalk on either side of the crossing; such collective, respectful, deeply connected quiet!

Pedestrians had not been allowed to cross the tracks, either—for chilling reasons, I assume— so I’d walked about a mile out of my way to a grotty, ramped pedestrian underpass. Which I shared with a young woman and her bicycle.

“You be safe out there,” I said to her, misquoting a beloved “Hill Street Blues” line. Since that seminal show had gone off the air in 1987 I was pretty sure my reference would be lost on her. But at that moment  in that narrow, graffiti-darkened tunnel I’d needed to say something about my own tenderness towards her, her youth, her aliveness, her emergent possibility.

“I know!” she replied. “It really gives you perspective, huh.”



*When the wind’s right, too, you can hear Logan Airport jets throttling up just after they’ve landed.

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  1. Not sure why this showed up as “On Track” ??!!
    It’s a terrible title which I’d changed to “Connected Quiet”
    I pray the error doesn’t upset anyone (I’m upset.)

  2. Dear Patricia,

    Hello, there, Patricia, my so, so very For Always dearest and darling soul sisterfriend who you’re For Always so, so very much!!!!! Sister, my so, so very precious friend I understand so, so very well with all of my very, very heart, and very, very heart, mind, soul, and spirit where you’re at, my so, so very dearest friend! Don’t you worry-I’m not the least bit upset by the words On Track and I just so, so very much perfectly understand in my very, very heart, and very, very heart and spirit, sisterfriend of mine!!!!! Wow, sister and friend of mine, I know just how traumatic this must be for you about this dear young bicyclist being killed by the ongoing train and with how close to your neighborhood and usual route this was where it occurred, sister!!!!! Wow!!!! I knew right away when I saw the name of the street, Park Street, that it was in your neighborhood and near your usual route because I remembered you mentioning Park Street in one of your earlier awesome blog post articles, sisterfriend. Sister, my very, very heart is with you, dear, dear Partricia!!!!! Wow, I know just how distressing and traumatic this must be for you anyway and added to the fact being so close to home for you!!!!! I pray so hard and so much for you, Patricia, for the others like with the so, so very dear witnesses of this horrid accident, and for all of the others who were there for its aftermath!!!!! I pray so much and so hard for the so very dear friends and family of this so, so very dearest victim of this horrible accident, sister!!!!! Wow, I know just how traumatic this must be-I can for sure relate, my friend. On Thursday, August 28, 2003 I was an older, non-traditional student here where I live in Iowa City, Iowa at the University of Iowa. I had just gotten out of my class and I was waiting on the sidewalk for the private, para-transit bus for university affiliated people who were faculty, staff, other employees, and students qualifying for this bus by being disabled. There was a University of Iowa truck driver who was driving illegally on the sidewalk and didn’t see me on the sidewalk and accidentally ran over me!!!!!! UGH, sister, ugh!!!!!! I am so, so very blessed that I wasn’t killed or injured any further than I was, Patricia!!!!! I had a broken fibula in my right knee, some abraisians, puncture wounds, and stuff! See what happened was that the driver to make it easier to make his deliveries rather than parking on the street and carting his stuff up the sidewalk to the door of the building that he instead drove on the sidewalk right up to the door of the building to make the delivery, and when he was leaving still driving on the sidewalk he didn’t see me somehow and accidentally ran over me!!!!!! UGH!!!!! Sister, I had received a settlement from the State of Iowa and I even had to go to court to testify against the driver, Patricia!!!!! Sister, I can so relate to the trauma that you and the others are so very uncomfortably and stressfully feeling. Shortly after my accident there was another University of Iowa student who was hit by a car but she was actually killed-a so, so very dear and precious young woman!!!!!! I was on my way to an Al-Anon meeting that was located in the near vicinity of the accident which killed this young woman. There was a young woman at the Al-Anon meeting who was very traumatized and upset because she had just witnessed the other young woman get struck by the vehicle and killed!!!!! We all felt that very same trauma and distress which you, sister, and the others felt, and we all had that connected quiet which you very brilliantly and sensitively speak to in this very fine and excellent blog post article with the very same collective , respectful, deeply connected quiet, sisterfriend of mine!!!!! It was very traumatic for me because I had just missed the accident happening, and it made me think of more my accident which had occurred to me just a few mere days beforehand, friend of mine!!!!! In the University of Iowa’s school newspaper, The Daily Iowan, there was a news article about this dear young lady who was killed and it mentioned me in the article regarding my accident!!!!! Wow, this hit so, so very close to home for me and made me feel that trauma, that very same connected quiet just like you, sister, and the others experienced and endured, Patricia!!!!! Sister, I at first appeared to recover from my injuries from the accident then almost five years later for some strange reason I became even more physically disabled but it didn’t happen right away after my accident.

    Sister, wow, I just so, so very much love and like the absolutely perfect and spectacular title to this very stupendous blog post article of yours which perfectly adds to and complements this absolutely amazing blog post article of yours here in accenting the very theme and topic of this great article here, Patricia!!!!! The picture which you have very graciously and generously featured with this deeply profound blog post article here is just perfect, absolutely perfectly, and just so, so very deep and heartfelt in adding to your article so finely. I thank-you so, so very much, so, so very profusely, kindly, dearly, and deeply for the marvelous links which you have very graciously and generously added and included with this very fine and excellent blog post article. It was fun seeing what the weather is like today and for the next several days in your all-star city of Somerville, Massachusetts, sister. I so enjoyed seeing the clip from Hill Street Blues in this so, so very fun link here, sisterfriend Patricia. At my apartment I so enjoy listening to the white noise of the ebbing and flowing of traffic, birds in season, and hearing and seeing through my windows or when I’m sitting out on our patio the planes coming and going from the Iowa City Airport. The Iowa City Airport is a very small airport. It is not a large or a major airport like the big one in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Sister, on the grounds and landscape of my apartment complex we have a beautiful and lovely tree-lined yard filled with awesome trees, pretty flowers, and sweetly chirping and singing birds. Just across the way from our yard is a highway where I so enjoy the white noise sounds of the ebbing and flowing traffic, and listening to the cars, trucks, and other vehicles with their motors as they are coming along the highway and as the sounds of their motors recede into the distance as the vehicles are going by!!!!! I just love the sounds of the highway but some of my neighbors don’t like or care for the sounds of the highway. I so love your very caring and wise words which you gently and sensitively spoke to the young woman on her bicycle on the grotty, ramped pedestrian underpass in that narrow, graffiti-darkened tunnel. It is just so, so very fun to make those deeply spiritual connections even with people we don’t know very well that we may encounter in public along our journeys, sister! I can just see that you made her day, too! Her words to you, Patricia, are just very full of such astute and acute sagacity as well.

    Sister, reading your superbly super blog post articles and other magnificent writings, and responding to them with my very heartfelt, thorough, and detailed thoughts and comments just provide for me such greatly immense blessings and joys!!!!! Sister, YOU are my very, very joy and blessing, Patricia, and so are your astounding blog post articles and other fine writings, just as I know that YOU are, too, sister, and all of your remarkable writings for your very, very many other grateful and appreciative readers!!!!! Reading your absolutely fabulous blog post articles and other great writings, and responding joyously with my thoughts and comments just greatly add to my very day making my day even better and brighter, and filling me up with such greatly increased cheer!!!!! Wow, sister, wow!!!!! YOU are just so, so very good for me, Patricia, and so are all of your awesome writings!!!! YOU are my very, very joy and blessing, Patricia!!!!! Yay for YOU, Patricia!!!!! Yay for our friendship and sisterhood, Patricia!!!!! Yay!!!!!!

    Please have such a wondrously wonderful Wednesday, rest of your week, and weekend ahead, and may all of your days be very, very especially blessed, Patricia!!!!! You are For Always in my daily and very frequent prayers and thoughts sending such positive energy all of your way, sister, as I do also for your dearest and darling husband, David, for your Loved One in the long-term care facility, for all of the rest of your very special, precious, beloved, and blessed family, for your very pure in heart friendsfamily at your Friends Meeting at Cambridge, and for your very, very many other friends!!!!! I can just feel all of your prayers, thoughts, and positive energy for me which I just so appreciate, and all of you praying for and thinking of me sending to me such positive energy are such a huge comfort to me and such a blessing truly helping me!!!!! I thank-you all so, so very much For Always straight from my very, very heart, and very, very heart and spirit!!!!! Yay for each and every one of you!!!!! Yay!!!!!

    Very Warmly and Sincerely For Always, my For Always sisterfriend Christian Quaker white woman who you’re For Always so, so very much, Patricia, with Such Very Peace and Love To You For Always, my so, so very special soul sisterfriend, and with Such Very Blessings and even more Such Very Blessings To You For Always my sister and friend,

    Your sisterfriend Christian black woman For Always and For Always in the very spirit and solidarity, Sherry Gordon in Iowa City, Iowa

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