Years ago I stood in line behind a woman in a newly opened grocery store.
The woman was young, at the time. She was heavy set. She stood directly in front of me. I found myself taking a step back when I noticed her. It was a reaction more than a conscious thought- to distance myself. Her hair was the thickest, mattiest, dirtiest mess of hair I had ever seen. Her arms had bandages on them. There were things in her hair.
I believe I was younger than her, or felt like I was compared to how she looked. She was young but aged. Her body was slumped. Her posture was poor. It could have been due to a physical reason or an emotional reason. I couldn’t tell.
Her overall appearance was rough, dirty and disheveled.
Though I tried not to look, I couldn’t stop, I kept looking at her hair. I had never seen anything like it. I am sure I was rude in the staring, trying to discern what was going on with it. It was as if there were knots and hair nets, or what I perceived to be hair nets, and mess all tied up together. It swooped and crisscrossed. I couldn’t tell what color her hair was because it was every color. Not dyed. Just a mass of different colored hair that went as a complete and solid mass the width of her shoulders and clear down her back.
I don’t know why I kept looking at it. I can still envision it. I remember telling myself she didn’t know I was looking because I was behind her. But I still felt rude. I still feel rude.
She wasn’t talking to anyone, I wasn’t talking to anyone. We were both quiet within our thoughts. My thoughts being about her.
It has likely been 25 years since this happened and yet I still find myself thinking of this woman on occasion.
I wonder about her and am intrigued knowing that characters in our life stories come in and leave for some unknown reasons. I’m still not sure what her reason for passing through my story is. But I know there is a reason.
I hope her story was one much better than what I have imagined.
And every time I think of her I find myself saying a silent wish that I hope she’s okay.