July 27, 2003 ~ In a Cave
Li's gone for the weekend, Morgan's been working doubles every day, so he's gone all day and well into the night, and every single neighbor on our street has left for the weekend. It's eerily quiet around here.
It has also been the hottest weekend yet this summer; high temperatures, thick smog, dangerous UV index, and extremely humid. I feel like I'm in a cave; shades closed and window air conditioner going full blast in an attempt to keep up with the steadily increasing heat and humidity.
I'm trying to keep myself occupied. My main project this weekend has been going through all of my old writing and re-organizing it. Most of my old (pre-college) writing really isn't publishable material, but occasionally I will come across a good idea to re-write or a piece that could stand on its own with major revision.
The old me I see there is practically a stranger, but occasionally I come across something that still rings true. This old newspaper column of mine made me smile:
"Do you know when the buss comes?
I was shaken from my reverie. "Huh?" I said, glancing up to find a woman in her late forties standing next to me at the bus stop.
"When is the bus coming?" She self-consciously tried to hide the stain on her shabby blouse. A strained look haunted her eyes as she stared at me expectantly.
"I've no idea," I answered, dismayed that my ponderings of a moment before had fluttered out of my memory's grasp.
"Oh." She began to say something more, but then held herself in check. I smiled. She relaxed, and commented on the weather. After a few minutes of idle chitchat, she shared how walking clears her mind as she contemplates life. I related how writing, the passion of my life, calms me. As the bus arrived, she mentioned her dream to visit exotic places as a travel agent.
It was evident as she eagerly took the seat next to me that no one had truly listened to her in quite some time. She told me how financial instability had forced her to quit college for a job involving intense physical labor. Twenty years, an unhappy marriage, four children, and a divorce later, a back injury rendered her incapable of working. Her children rarely visited, having lives of their own. She walked in pain on the broken glass of her shattered dreams and ambitions.
She looked dead. Hope was all she had left, and I was damned if I would take it from her. I encouraged her to get a loan for travel school. A spark of life entered her eyes, and a smile touched her lips.
Her stop came up and she turned to me, smiling. "Young people like you give me hope for the future. Thank you for listening. Good bye!"
A lump rose in my throat. Through her I had received an in-depth glance into a life very different from my own. "Farewell, and good luck!" I said as she left. I watched her disappear into a run-down apartment complex. I was proud to have touched her life. I knew her for a mere ten minutes, but I shall remember her forever.