Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Thanks for empathy

The short becapped man whose voice is older than his face, regards me and stammers questions.

English does not seem to be his first language and his accent reminds me of home, of New York City, of the old Yiddish speakers who would tell me their life stories when I was a little girl on the subways.

Though maybe he is just aging and words don’t come fast.

He asks how how how gesturing up and down how did this happen how did this happen, what happened.

There are no words other than what it is.
Transverse myellitis, I say.
He stares with incomprehension. I look back. There are no other words.
One day I fell down I say and I could not get up, just like that.
Just like that he asks, repeating.
Ach ! You are so young and beautiful. This is a shame.

By now there are other people and we are on the elevator. It is the most people I’ve ever been on the elevator with, but I have met all of them before except for him and one young man.

He presses buttons, I tell him my floor. I chat with the plump old baby doll of a woman whose orange and grey hair sticks out from her head. She just washed her hair and thinks of pressing it. It looks straightened already. She was waiting for it to dry. When we reach my floor , the old man rifles through his mind and then his pockets.

Candy Candy let me give you some.
No thank you. I give him my sweetest smile.
I don’t eat candy. But thank you.

Yes thank him, for being moved to want to give me something.

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