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Dry as a bone

May 5, 2010

Dry as a bone.  Yep, that’s me today, dry as a bone.  Sitting here at the computer, legs crossed, chin in hands, trying to squeeze some blood out of a turnip. I’m the turnip.

Anyway, I had this cool idea earlier today, to write a little essay.  An essay about a moment when I ran into someone from my past, and she didn’t recognize me.  It was an odd moment.  Just one of those little internal jerks that happen.  A moment of shock, then gratitude.

It happened a couple of years ago, in fact.  But the other day, in my wanderings, I drove by the place where it happened and it sprang to mind.  The memory was so strong, I even grabbed my notebook and made a note.

So today, being dry as a bone and all, I thought, “Hey, I can use this.  I can blog on this.”  And then I thought, “What the hell.  I’m sick of the past, I’m over the past.  Who cares about the past.”

Then I decided to go out shopping to get the perfect pair of chocolate slacks to wear with my taupe top so I can look just right for my first Board Meeting of the WNBA.  That’s the Women’s National Book Association, San Francisco Chapter.  I joined a while back and have been hanging out with them quite a bit.  I was elected to a position on the Board.  I am, of course, more than thrilled.  They are a great organization, and a great group of women.

Here’s a link so you can take a look at their website. http://www.wnba-sfchapter.org/

Okay. back to the matter at hand.  The essay, about that moment. 

I was actually going to title this, She Didn’t Even Know Me. So I may as well. Here goes.

I was running on all cylinders, from the office to the courthouse, and then to the process servers.  Not for me.  It was my boss, you see.  He had a long list, of collections, that is.   Clients who had stiffed him were put on the list, hounded for a while, and eventually sued.  And I, as his Executive Assistant, was the one who called, followed up, hounded, and filed the paperwork.  For me, it was just another part of the job plus a chance to get out of the office now and then.

The process server had an office worthy of Dashiell Hammett, stuck at the top of a long flight of stairs in one of the more antiquated buildings in downtown Oakland, right around the corner from the jail and the bail bondsman’s offices, and directly across the street from a mission for the homeless.

It was a beautiful day in May, just like today, and no matter the task, I was glad to be out of the office, walking around in the sunshine.  Lunch was also included along with this errand, so I was looking forward to at least a few hours away from my desk.

I parked close by, fed the meter, and walked around to the process server’s office.  I buzzed the intercom and he let me in.  He was always mindful of security because of the area.  We exchanged paperwork and a quick hello and in less than five minutes I was headed back down the stairs, thinking about where I wanted to go for lunch.

I was so busy trying to make a decision between the mexican restaurant around the corner or the chinese restaurant down the street, I didn’t even see her at first.

My old friend, that is.  Well, maybe not so much a friend, but definitely a one-time compadre, someone who I shared a common life with, someone who I listened to when she complained her man had beat her again, someone who I used to give a ride home to occassionally, someone who I laughed and drank with when I would visit her corner one block down.

Someone. Who was just like me.

She walked out the doors of the mission and came zigzagging across the street, refusing to be ruled by the crosswalk, even thinner than she used to be.  And she was always a slim girl.  At first I couldn’t quite believe it was her, but as she got closer, I saw there was no mistake.

I thought to myself, “What will I say to her?  What should I say to her?  What is there to say?” I wanted to turn away, disassociate myself from her, pretend that, no, I didn’t know her, no, I didn’t see her, no, that was never me. Rooted to the spot, I watched her come closer and closer.  And then my fear left me.  Why not say hello, I thought, why not acknowledge the long ago.  Why be scared, it’s different now.

I looked up and smiled.  But she didn’t smile back.  She looked right at me.  And there was nothing there.  No smile, no comfort, no life, no peace, no God, no hope.  She didn’t even know me.

There but for the Grace of God go I.

Love & Perseverance

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