(Author's note: This blogpost is a draft, a work in progress. I wanted to write down my thoughts about Anonymous Woman before the experience, emotions and impressions fade into oblivion. By posting this draft, I am signaling my intention to memorialize her.)
I had seen her once or twice before, sitting on a green canvas folding chair, the kind with armrests with scooped out pockets for beverage holders. Once in summer I saw her under a skimpy tree seeking shade from the scathing sun. She was a passing blur in my peripheral vision, old and obese, and black as a prune. Her ashy gray calves as big-around as tree trunks left a dent in my memory.
She is anonymous to the world, a homeless woman, living on the sidewalk under a tree or the eave of an abandoned building. Cars drive past her without slowing down, the same way I drove past her once in the summer and again in the fall.
On Christmas Day I saw her right smack in front of me as I turned on Tennessee Street towards the 80 freeway. It was a beautiful winter day in the bay area, sunny and bright, beautiful but bone-chillingly cold. She sat in the sidewalk on her folding chair like a lump of overstuffed trash, covered by a dirty gray fleece blanket from head to toe, except for slits for her eyes.
My heart broke.
No, I thought. Not on Christmas Day. Not on a day when families were cozy and comfortable in their homes, opening presents, feasting heartily, heavily, indulgingly. But now I was running late for lunch and a movie date with my closest friends. I headed out to Oakland with a humbling sense of gratitude. There but for the grace of God go I. I told myself I would come back that night and get her, feed her.
(To be continued..)