Lately I’m leaving Alene to focus on her work during the day as she’s rather busy. And she rather enjoys her work, for the most part, so I want to allow her to fully engage with it. But in return, I’m becoming a bit more insistent on her following my wishes when she’s not at work.
This afternoon, she left work and walked to the bus stop with no clear plan other than to get the next bus home. But while she waited, she remembered something she had considered the night before — a poetry reading and storytelling evening at a coffee shop she’s been to a few times. It’s a really nice event that Alene attended a few times last year — and she once even took part in the open mic. But today, I leaned on her to forget it — to just do her regular after-work coffee routine. If she had attended, she wouldn’t have got home until well after 10pm — and she would have been really, really tired. Being in a crowd, even the best of crowds, always wears us out.
The mechanism which allows us to communicate over distances in the thousands of miles (whatever it might be) also seems to allow unwanted energies from other people to interact with us. So we have to limit time spent amongst crowds. We are reclusive even by the standards of the most extreme introverts — but that doesn’t mean we do not like people. We enjoy other people very much — but we need to care from a distance. We watch people more than they would ever know — and we sometimes become incredibly attached to people that neither one of us has ever talked with.
There’s a young woman who has shown up recently on one of Alene’s regular buses. We used to see her many years ago on a different bus route — which just happened to be one of Allen’s routes at the time — and he remembers this young lady also. (“I know the one!” he said, with a sure nod when I described her to him.) She caught my eye back then on account of her pretty long red hair, which she wore in a wide range of styles. Although a bit dumpy of stature, she dressed nicely — and she always looked immensely happy with the world and comfortable with herself — and friendly and kind to other people. On a few occasions, we saw her with her boyfriend, who was unabashedly demonstrative of his affection for her. We were happy to see how much he appreciated her.
Then she disappeared. It happens all the time on the bus. And you hope that there’s a normal explanation for it: new work schedule; new apartment elsewhere; pay raise that allowed person to buy new car and give up on the bus; relocation to dream job in different city; moving in with someone else. Nothing to worry about — so you hope.
We wonder what has happened to her in the meantime. She transfers from a bus that comes from a rather rough part of Seattle. Although she still dresses with style, it’s more of a grunge look than the downtown-office-girl clothes she once wore. Her hair is unkept and she sports some very amateurish tattoos. Her face is still wistfully pretty, but it never has a smile — although it still looks gentle and kind. We watch her get off the bus and disappear into the warehouse/industrial district and we wonder where she works now — and hope that her boss isn’t an asshole.
At this point, you might very well ask why Alene doesn’t talk to the girl and get to know her.
Because, we have a sense that a spell might be broken.
Sometimes we can imagine problems where there are none. It’s easy to assume that she got into drugs, took up with some scumbag, and keeps losing jobs. But for all we know, it might be that she is following a dream and playing drums in an all-girl band that keeps her up late at night so that she gets the morning bus to her day job after only a couple of hours sleep.
Our guess is that she is struggling in some way — but that she is also working through something that she needs to attend to by herself — that she’s got her gaze fixed on some distant target as she negotiates a wobbly bridge over a deep chasm — and to distract her attention might cause her to lose her balance and fall.
All we can do is watch — and wonder — and care from a distance.
Now! What would Allen do? Oh, he’d butt in at the first opportunity — freshening up her transfer as an icebreaker. (But he’s rather more experienced at butting in than we are.)