14 January 2009

Into the Night

Funny I should mention her...

Tonight I was riding my bicycle home from work. I was only a few blocks from home when I saw a petite, youngish-looking woman talking on her cell phone.

That, in and of itself, is nothing unusual. But I heard her voice: "I'm at 32nd Street" and the tone of victim-like helplessness combined with resentfulness. And the voice was a few sizes too small even for her diminutive body.

As I neared the side of the intersection where I was standing, I noticed her facial features: a rather well-formed nose and cheeks that, although not high, were at least rounded in a rather pleasant way.

And her skin color: somewhere between the olive tone of Southern Italy and the earthier yet rather sallow hue of central Asia, possibly one of the countries whose names end in "stan." Hmm...Stan's States. Now there's a name for a business.

Passing about twenty feet or so in front of her, I got a glimpse of her and heard more of her voice.

I've known only one person who looked and sounded like her. You guessed: my former friend Elizabeth, whom I mentioned on yesterday's entry. That was the first time I'd thought of her in a while, and I certainly didn't have her on my mind tonight, as I was pedalling home.

Now tell me, what was she doing there? What were the chances?

Of course it's entirely possible that she moved into, or was visiting someone in, the neighborhood. But, still, this is a city in which you could be living a couple of doors away from some long-lost relative and not even know it.

I was tempted to turn around and...what? See whether or not it was really her? If that young woman wasn't Elizabeth, then I'd just apologize, I guess. "Oh, I thought you were..." And if she had been Elizabeth, what would have I said?

Well, I could say lots of things. But none of them would matter. After all, when a person begrudges you your happiness or, worse, denies who and what you are and your right to live by the substance of your being, what can you say? What kind of a conversation can you have with someone who'd rather see you dead than happy just so that she can be right, or at least able to rationalize her resentments and hatefulness?

Yes, it hurt when she said she no longer wanted anything to do with me. The rejection from my brother Tony hurt even more, but somehow I could forgive him. If he were to call me, I wouldn't ask questions, except about the state of his health and well-being, and would do the best I can to resume the kind of relationship we once had. I don't think I could, or want to, do that for Elizabeth. I guess family ties are stronger than any others after all.

And Elizabeth, in essence, denied not only that I am part of her family, if you will--I'm referring, of course,to the sisterhood--but that I ever could, or had a right to, be one of its members. That, evne though there was a time in my life--a long time, in fact--in which she was my best friend and probably knew me better than anyone except my mother or grandmother ever has. Or so I thought.

So, for all I know, she disappeared into the night. And so did I. Two people can do that only if they're going in different directions. At least I know that her path isn't the only one to life as a woman. Thank goddess!

I was tempted to turn around and try to get another glimpse. But I knew I could ride or walk only but so close, if at all, until she noticed me. Or maybe she wouldn't. That would be fine with me.