Sunday, July 12
Green line train
After a day of sightseeing, my two daughters and I rode the train from downtown to Yiayia and Papu’s (to pick up the moussaka she had made us for dinner, natch). When we got onto the train at Monastiraki, it was jampacked, sardine-style, which was not unusual. However, as we pushed our way into the train, our fellow passengers didn’t look like typical Greek straphangers, heading home from a day at the beach or going out to meet a friend for a coffee. It was not the color of people’s skin that was so different, it was the looks in the eyes, the fact that everyone (mostly young men) carried a large pack of some sort — a duffel bag, a beat up carry-on suitcase, a stuffed, bulging canvas sack. Of course we had heard the news stories of refugees arriving in droves, the anecdotes from friends in Athens, and my kids attended Greek public school with kids from Syria, Afghanistan, etc,. But this felt different in a way that I can’t put my finger on.
We were crammed in, and my older daughter was slightly panicked. She does not like crowds, and particularly being enclosed on a subway (long story: 2 years ago she saw her Daddy get assaulted on the metro, and she now has an aversion to riding the metro anytime, but particularly when it’s crowded). I had my arms protectively around her, whispering gently into her ear to breathe, and that our stop was just 4 stops, then 3, then 2, then 1 only stop away.
As we pulled through Omonia and Attiki, the mass exodus of people, and the number of people already on the platforms, was disconcerting. At Omonia, I watched a mom of two toddlers wriggle through the crowd to get her kids off the train before the doors closed. As I watched her manage her bags and her two little kids, my heart simply broke. Here we were, two moms with our fearful kids on the same train. I can only imagine the depths of fear of the unknown that she was feeling, the horror she escaped, the journey she endured, and the difficult road ahead.
When we arrived at Yiayia’s, the girls had a nice snuggle watching tv with her, and she packed up our dinner for us to take home. As the girls and I traveled back to our apartment, I just couldn’t shake the feelings in my heart of two moms on a train, both wanting to comfort their children, to say that it would all be ok; they were safe. I could hail a cab home so my kid could feel safe. What could that mom do? My heart ached for her.
What connects us as humans is so much stronger than what differentiates us: two moms on a train. Loving their kids. Wanting to keep their kids safe.