January 22, 2015
Since I was a little girl people have fascinated me. I’ve spent many (too many) hours wondering about the lives and rituals of strangers and friends. As an adult, my favorite question is still, “Why?” While I often curse the internet for its ability to bring everything too near all of the time and swallow us whole with its incessant humming in the background of every moment, I also find that it has answered my favorite question so well and so often.
I have struggled for years with this side of myself. So many people misunderstand my interest, my curiosity. Some find it weird or unsettling. I get it. And I would probably agree if I were you, but here’s the thing. Caring about strangers and acquaintances from a distance, wondering about them, reminds me that I am human. It reminds me that I am tender and soft, that my heart still works as it should.
Yesterday I stumbled upon, by way of a series of random clicks, a picture of a woman on Facebook. She is the wife of a Professor where I work. In the photo she is smiling, she has short hair and dangly earrings. Her eyes look so happy, fulfilled. I immediately recognized that look. I’ve seen it on my own face the past few years when I look at pictures of Roberto and me. Anyway, as I’m looking at her I realize a tiny mystery has been solved. One of the endless why’s has been answered. I think it’s natural to wonder about the other half of someone you know. Who makes them whole? There she was, this sweet faced lady. The other half of a professor I have liked since I met him. Probably because I have only needed to tell him my name once. Once and he has never mispronounced it. To me that speaks volumes about the kind of person he is. Perhaps another why answered. The reason why her eyes looked so happy and fulfilled. Then I scroll through a few of the comments and there he is. His comment is, “Hi. Can I have your number?” Hilarious and perfect.
Fast forward 11 months. He and his family are leaving. They’re moving to Canada. News of his departure rattled me, took the wind from my sails, but why? A few months back I brought my youngest son to work for a visit. Upon leaving, this professor and another were arriving, my son reached for him, nestled into his chest, found comfort in him. I thought of the woman in the picture, his wife with the dangly earrings. He moves through this life with the essence of home.
I am a broken woman, shards of what was, what could be. I am drawn to people who see me as more. Three nights ago he introduced me to his wife, the woman with the dangly earrings and said,”she knows all about you.” I took her hand in mine, looked her in the eye and wondered, what does she know about me?
I will miss him. I will miss his gentle way, his kindness, his frankness, his offerings of thai food, his daughter’s cookies. I will miss jokes about how I owe him shawarma and donuts (and I do).
My heart knows good people. When I was young that’s what helped me survive. I knew when and how and who. I wish I could have known you well, longer. I wish I could know your wife and your children. I wish I could tell them what they already know.
You are magic.