gazing at the sky, gathering stories


It's been quiet here lately. Work, the beginning of a new school year, and trying to get organized are taking over my days. I just realized that I'm not really good with the in-betweens, this transition between seasons, particularly because it feels like summer had just started for us here in San Francisco. All these blue skies and intoxicating afternoon light makes it hard for me to believe that its already mid-September, and yet there is definitely a certain chill in the evening air, a sign that fall is just around the corner.

This morning I drove by what used to be a neighborhood grocery store, saw the sign that says "Gone Fishing", and felt really sad. I 'know' of the couple who owns the store, middle-aged Italian men who were very warm and welcoming, and I remember all those times when I used to go there for my lunch breaks, cold and sleep-deprived, and their homemade soup never failed to lift my spirits. They didn't talk much but they always made sure that I had everything I needed - napkins, plastic utensils, salt and pepper, etc. and placed them in a brown bag before I even asked for it. What will happen to them, I wonder? Will they still live in the city or will they move somewhere else?

Why is it that some people, even the ones you only spent the briefest of moments, leave you with a certain impression than others? Is it a recognition, a sense of kinship, or just a case of "the right time and the right place"? For instance, there are days when I'm on the train and I couldn't remember even a single person around me, what they look like, who they are with, and there are also times when I see high school students chatting while doing their homework in a coffee shop and I'm instantly drawn to them, curious about their lives and dreams.

A month ago I was walking around my neighborhood, an elderly Japanese lady walked up to me and asked, Do you live around here? I must have nodded yes and the next thing you know we were already walking together. She told me about her husband, how he is 10 years older than her, how they go to the Y every morning, how she walks around the neighborhood in the afternoons, how she used to have a best friend who's Filipino but she passed away and she'd lost contact with her friend's children, how convenient it is to live in a walkable city.

In turn, I told her a little bit about myself, how I come to live in the city, what I do, and which local shops I love to hang out in. She couldn't believe that I live alone and thought that I should be with my family or a boy who will take care of me. I remember thinking to myself, how do I explain to this 65 year-old woman who's lived with her husband for more than half of her life that I'm actually happy being on my own?

We walked for about 10 blocks, parted at the intersection that leads to her street, and her last words were, you be careful, okay? I stood at the intersection for awhile and watched her walk up the winding hill. I don't know why, but in that moment, even though our lives are completely different, I felt like we both understood each other.

Photo by peta mazey via Marvelous Kiddo

6 comments:

  1. I loved this post. And I hate that I can't formulate something better than "I loved this post." You just have such a sweet way about your writing :)

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  2. thanks, Dorkys! you're too sweet :)

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  3. you still got what it takes Miss O.... your stories always intice me.... so real so compassionate..... and the pictures... well they tell their own stories..... cheers! Miss M

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  4. I agree. Your writing is so beautiful. I love the old lady. The story about the store closing made me sad, too. You have a beautiful way of bringing those people and emotions to life. I feel like a broken record, because I keep saying "I love it" over and over. But I do:) You're a writer, woman! With many stories to tell. I hope your school year is a great one.

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  5. julie, thank you. you're making me blush :)

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