A long time ago I ran into someone I had not seen for a while. She saw me, and I saw her. She knew I saw her. She saw me walking down the street with my dog, Puzzle. Puzzle is off-white, small, and distinct-looking since her fur is somewhat curly, but somewhat not curly. Puzzle is not unfriendly, and this woman is not afraid of dogs. I think she has her own dog, but I am not sure. In the past we had been friendly, and spoken a number of times. She was on the same side of the street as I was, coming toward me. It had been raining, but wasn’t at the present time. She had an umbrella with her. That made sense, as it might start raining, might not.
I was happy to see her. This was during those dreaded silent years, 2012 and 2013. I was always happy to see someone I knew because I was so starved for conversation, real-time conversation, and sick of being put off to texting and Facebook by people who were deliberately shoving me away. So there she was. My rare opportunity at conversation. It was midday Sunday. I had missed church that day. It looked like she was leaving church. I knew she was not in a hurry. She was on her way home, coming toward me now. I waved eagerly. I felt a little ashamed for having missed church that day, but that didn’t matter too much right now.
She saw me. I know she did. How could she not? I was waving, facing her, with Puzzle. She isn’t vision impaired. And yes, it was her. Back then I could see fairly well and I was sure it was her. She took one look, put her umbrella up to hide herself, and then, crossed the street quickly to the other side.
I stopped and waited. I couldn’t believe what I saw. What was she doing? Yet it was really happening. She was actually avoiding me. Deliberately crossing and thinking I had not seen her. What a bitch!
I know some folks are shy. Maybe that was it. Maybe sometimes people are just so, so, so shy they can’t seem to strike up a conversation even with a person they already know.
This gal, though, in a previous conversation had ranted about how her Zyprexa had made her so much better and had “cured” her of everything that ailed her and she said that everyone should go on it. Oh she said she didn’t care about the weight gain. Jeepers. (I wonder if she can still walk or if she is using a walker now…..or if she has diabetes, heart disease, tardive dyskinesia, or whatever.)
I will never know why she crossed the street that day. Had she been a bit more considerate, she would have contacted me and said, “I’m sorry, I was lost in thought and didn’t even realize what I was doing.” Or, “I’m sorry, I didn’t feel like talking. Nothing personal.”
I wonder if this person even realized the impact that tiny act had on me. I was devastated by what she did. It symbolized, to me, loss, deep loneliness, social othering, and being made into a criminal when I had not committed a crime. It symbolized everything that went wrong in Watertown. In another age, that is called a witch-hunt or lynching.
Those days are over. I hope I never have to live though something like that again.