Sometimes on the bus on the way home from work I sit next to a man, not always the same man mind you, who just looks absolutely worn out. Often he's wearing jeans and work boots, a jacket and a knit cap, maybe even a hardhat tucked tightly under one arm. Each and every piece of clothing is covered in sawdust, or tar, or paint, or dirt. His hands look so hard; I can't imagine that he ever had little boy hands, soft and warm and gentle. Most of the time he has a beard, or a goatee, or a moustache...the gray hairs set off by the deep tan of his heavily lined face. Are they laugh or worry lines? I always wonder.
Inevitably, this man, this hard-working father, or son, or brother, or husband, will start to be lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of the city bus. His eyes, flinty blue or mossy green or maybe golden brown, beneath thick, dark lashes, begin to fade closed despite what I imagine to be his best intentions.
When he finally falls asleep, unable to fight his exhaustion, and his chin comes to rest on his chest, and the lines on his face just sort of float away, and those gorgeous lashes flutter ever so slightly, hovering just above the top of cheekbones that any woman worth her salt would kill for, it breaks my heart. Every single time. If I could somehow erase his weariness with a look, or a touch, or a smile, I would do it without a thought. I pray, to the extent that I ever pray, that his short respite provides him some sense of renewal.
I wonder if anyone on the bus ever prays for my renewal.