Although the sky is gray, the air is warm and smells like spring. The rain has blanketed my neighborhood with that sweet scent of life blooming, of possibility.
This morning on my walk, noticing the gray clouds in their energy moving across the expansive sky, I thought of nothing and of everything as I put one foot in front of the other, making my way up the street and back down again.
I passed other women, all of us in North Face winter coats, some having left children at the school down the street, one walking her dog. I guess my pace was faster than the dog-walker, and so as I neared her on the path, I tried to shuffle louder, took a big breath, wanting her to know someone was approaching.
To pass her on the left, I said, “Excuse me,” and, lost in her own fog, she startled. She hadn’t seen me, heard me approaching, felt my presence. Of course, I would never want to scare a person and so I apologized immediately, saying I didn’t mean to scare you.
But she was still in her own world, her world of black Ugg boots and black North Face coat, her face white as the winter sky, she muttered to herself, lost in a thick fog of her own doing. “On the left or on the right,” she said, and I had no idea what she meant.
I had apologized, and her startle caused my heart to thump madly in my chest. I passed and walked onward, toward my house, unsettled in her stark fear of anyone nearing, anyone closing in.
It reminded me of last night, walking through the mall to the grocery, and noticing that every woman we passed had the same dark straight hair, the same black coat, the same black clothing. In a favorite store, a tall woman chomped her gum, and I realized we had gone to school together.
She didn’t know me. She chomped her gum, and when the saleswoman asked her a question the gum came to the front of her teeth and she tried to talk through it, the gum showing, her words slurred. I didn’t say hello. Nor did she.
For her, it was lack of recognition. For me, it was wanting to associate only with the lighter colors, the light itself, the brightness, the friendliness, the openness.
Perhaps I’m judging. We all do. But I’ve spent my life trying to break free of the darkness, of the sameness, of the sea of similarity.
Poor woman on this morning’s path. Poor gentle passing.
The skies were dark but promising, the air light with spring.