Monday, January 12, 2009

Anonymous Woman

(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..)



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