Writing 101, Day 6 – Who’s the most interesting person you’ve met this year?
* Maybe not THE most interesting but definitely a curious experience!
I stood quietly suffering and trying to recall what the guy on Super Soul Sunday with Oprah said yesterday about embracing your pain and just being in the moment with it to learn something deeper about yourself.
“Oh wow, I didn’t know that you could give 2-year-olds vitamins,” a woman said next to me.
I looked at her and she was alone. I was the closest one standing to her and she smiled at me and pointed back at the box on the shelf. I demanded my brain to resurface from its deep dive into physical misery and engage with this woman. It hurt like hell to speak.
“Can you,” I croaked, groping for something to add, “give vitamins? I know we took Flinstones but we were school age.”
I didn’t really have anything to say about the topic but she was lovely and maybe talking to someone would help me through the next 15 minutes while I waited for the prescription to be filled.
It’s amazing how some people take opportunities to connect with others everywhere they go and how trusting and open they are. Generally, in my culture anyhow, this is seen as an imposition at best and a violation at worst of personal space and boundaries to force a stranger into conversation without invitation, but I kind of admired her.
The vitamin comment was nothing more than a way to get started. She quickly pointed out her swollen, infected finger and then chatted on about her children and grandchild and best friend’s family and the burdens of being the eldest of 19 kids and what it’s like to be a single working parent… I only needed to nod and add supportive sounds once in a while to show I was engaged.
She was slightly taller than me, say 5’8″and healthy looking. She had a fine, strong face with distinct cheek bones and jaw line and her eyes were bright, brown dancing pools behind modern glasses. Her hair cut was what I’d refer to as the ‘soccer mom’ style but it suited her and she did seem like the mom you’d see on the sidelines of every soccer game cheering the kids on. But it wasn’t stiff. So often women who wear that short cut deaden it with gel into army helmets, which maybe they need when they’re in charge of armies of small children. Many aboriginal women have really long, shimmery black hair that I’m certain must feel like silk running through their fingers. This woman’s hair had the raven black shine but her short locks were thick, wavy and even curly in places. It framed her face nicely and the motion and liveliness of her hair equalled her personality.
I tried to pinpoint her age, something I good at, and based on the description of her kids and all, I decided she was in her 50s. Her skin was flawless with the odd freckle and the signs of age were just beginning to show in mild crinkles around her eyes and mouth when she laughed about giving her kids the gears for not having had more babies yet. Apparently one grandchild is not enough!
The only aspect that seemed to date her was the cream-based, old-lady-pink lipstick that she had obviously put on hours ago. The natural reddish-brown of her lips showed through at the edges of her mouth and I thought that she had chosen the wrong lip colour for her skin tone. She’d be a knock-out in a deep red wine lip colour and chocolate brown top. Under the grandma jacket I could tell that she had the curves of a woman who lives in balance between food and physical activity.
“Oh, that’s me, sorry,” I said and left her to go pay for my antibiotics. We were just getting into the part about the burdens placed on her friend who was the eldest of 19. I felt rude to abandon her just then. And I wanted to tell her about my dear friend who is battling cancer with the very real threat of leaving her four young children motherless hanging over her head. This was a woman who would listen and almost surely have something wise to share with me.
After paying for the prescription, I turned to leave the pharmacy. She was looking down at her hands.
I waved my hand to get her attention and she looked up. “Take good care,” I said for lack of anything better.
“Oh yes.You too. Take good care,” she said back with that winning smile.
The woman now standing in my spot beside her looked from me to her quizzically. I left wondering if my nameless friend would start a conversation with that woman too and if that woman would embrace the invasion of privacy or shut her down instantly. I admit, I felt a pang of jealousy and hoped she shut her down. I kind of wanted that experience to be special, like she’d only done it as a gift for me.