…what’s happened to the people in my life that I’ve only ever crossed paths with once. No, I’m not talking about the cashier in some random convenience store I may have stopped by on a road trip to satisfy my junk food cravings. I mean people we may have had brief, yet meaningful, encounters with. Encounters that still hold a special place in our hearts. Some of these people I’ve still got on Facebook and still occasionally speak with, but in the case of most others, I have no clue how they’re doing. So, from time to time I wonder about them.
Like the English nurse who helped me dress my foot and thigh after a nasty scald/burn accident involving broccoli and boiling water. (For the full story, see my “Broke, Black, and Living in Britain” blog.) She was really kind and helpful. Quiet, like me. Talked to me about her youngest daughter, who’d also been at my university, the University of Leeds. And how she slightly disapproved of her other daughter’s decision to put her semi-successful writing career on hold to help her rapper boyfriend in his career. She made sure I took all my painkillers, made sure my prescription was in order, and wouldn’t take no for an answer when I said I was okay limping to the hospital pharmacy on my own. She offered to get me a wheelchair but I told her it wasn’t necessary. We walked and chatted on the way to pharmacy, and took my prescription up to the front ahead of the queue so I wouldn’t have to wait as long. She double-checked that I was okay and wished me good luck with everything.
I wish I remembered her name, and that she was my nurse when I had to return the next day for my appointment.
And sometimes I wonder about the kind woman who spotted the eleven-year-old version of me drenched in rain and sat on my doorstep while she was out walking her dog. She came over and asked why I was sat outside. I’d told her how I walked home from the bus stop in the heavy rainstorm that had since subsided. When I got home and rummaged through my backpack, I realized I didn’t have my house key. So I sat and waited until my mother got home. She wasn’t due for another couple hours, and the neighbors weren’t home so I sat on my doorstep.
She invited me to come to her house to ring my mother and put some dry clothes on. Thinking back now, I’m dead grateful she didn’t turn out to be a psycho killer. It didn’t occur to me at the time. She lived just up the street and got me some of her son’s gym clothes while I told my mom what had happened. She was annoyed at me for forgetting my key. I waited, and the woman gave me something to eat and drink. Her husband and son had arrived, they were just as friendly as she was. Though, I’m sure the son was freaked out by some strange girl wearing his clothes. My mom came to collect me and thank the woman for her hospitality. I told the woman I’d return her son’s clothes that week when my mom had washed them.
When I got home and back into my own clothes, I realized my key had been hiding in the deepest nook and cranny of my backpack the entire time.
Or that lovely family in North Acton, London, that I was fortunate to spend a Saturday evening with three years ago. I’d been in Leeds, England on 6-month exchange program. A group of us went on a tour of London one weekend. One of my flatmates was from Mexico. She had a friend living in London with her husband, who she met while studying abroad and eventually stayed in England to be with him. When the tour had reached Piccadilly Circus, my flatmate asked the tour guide if it was okay for her to venture off and meet her friend. She invited me along. About 3 dodgy tube rides later, we reached the correct neighborhood. We stopped by a church to meet her friend’s family. We sat with the church members until it ended. We then met her friend and her English husband and their baby. They drove us to their flat, which was really nice. Perfect for a small family.
The woman’s mother had moved from Mexico to care for the baby, and she greeted us when we arrived. The husband’s best friend arrived shorty after. He was a friendly Irish guy who was in a long-distance relationship with a Virginian woman who he hoped to marry someday. A lot of international lovin’ going on there, since I was also dating an Englishman at the time. We had a really nice meal of homemade pizza and salad, and bit of alcohol helped the evening turn a bit more lively. I felt very comfortable around these perfect strangers with whom I was sharing stories and laughter. The men were in a gaming mood and we had to vote on whether to play Wii or N64. I voted for N64, and it won. I hadn’t played Mario Kart 64 in years, it was such fun. It was getting quite late, so we had to head off. I was sad to leave. Everyone gave hugs and the husband walked us to North Acton station.
Though our paths will never cross again, I hope all of these kind people are doing well in their lives.