Saturday, September 5, 2009

The World had Turned and Left Her There

I decided as part of my bachelor weekend that I would take a walk up to the grocery store and pick up some micro-brewed autumn flavored beers.

For the first time in weeks, the muggy uncomfortable Missouri air clung to my skin. It becomes impossible to tell the difference between sweat and condensation.

I passed by the local not-for-profit organization that tries to keep children off the street with sports and crafts and field trips. A giant sign hung from the door apologizing because it had to close on August 15th.

I paused. I could feel the environment. Someone made a physical representation of a dream they had to make a difference in the neighborhood they loved enough to make that difference. I shuddered. It felt like a cemetery with 10,000 open graves filled with the mourning widows pounding on the tops of their loved ones black caskets. Even though its humid, I wish I had a jacket on so I could pull it closer.

I wandered down Arsenal lost in my headphones. I see a lady leaning against her front-yard chainlink fence. She was saying something to me, but all I could hear was the music.

I pull one ear bud out. She repeats herself. I still can't her. I remove the other ear bud and lean in closer.

"Notor Da Dame. Notor Da Dame."

I still don't understand. I lean closer still. If she had a weapon she could've taken me down.

"Notor Da Dame. Football game."

"Notre Dame?"

"Yes, Notor Da Dame."

Its in her eyes. The world turned on her long ago and she was several drinks deep turning her back on the world in return.

She slurs her speech adding "s" and "sch" sounds to the beginning of half her words. "I schcame by the shouse, but no one was sthere. Sthey were gonna be dare to schwatch the game."

She asks me to watch the game with her. When I politely decline and tell her that I'm not much of a football fan, she grabs my arm. Her desperation squeezing just a bit harder. I break free. She returns to the house that I assume was hers. I continue to the grocery store.

I stare up and down the beer aisle contemplating whether I feel like a drink after meeting that stranger in the streets. I contemplate inviting her to the local bar just for one beer. Just so she had company. I picture he telling me great stories about life thirty years ago. I imagine that she once toured with the Rolling Stones or shared a bourbon with Hunter Thomson in downtown Louisville.

The reality is, we would sit on those barstools not really talking. I would be observing sadness personified. It would put me in a far worse funk than I was.

I choose my beer and on the way home saw her still standing out in front of her house. She was chatting it up with a nicely dressed black man that seemed to be humoring her better than I did. I took the alleyway behind her house and avoided her all together. I wish her luck for as much as that was worth and locked my door behind me.