Years and years ago, before I was a grown and settled adult with my own family, a bunch of us decided to drive up to New York City to party. This was in the heyday of Studio 54 and our hope was to be allowed admittance into this Disco icon. The only transportation we had available to us was a wreck of a car, running low on its last life. I don't remember its make, but it was a big green thing with fins. And it was OLD. We weren't sure if it would even make it on that length of a trip but we figured that 'nothing ventured, nothing gained,' and so we packed enough glitter garb to get us through a night on the town, and we headed off.
It was a close call, and there were more than a few engine death rattles, but we made it. We pulled into a parking garage, barreled out of the green tank and gave cheers and high fives to one another.
Our joy was interrupted by a loud bang! bang! bang! and we turned to see a woman of an indeterminable age, pounding down on the hood of the car. She had dirty, shoulder length, snarled blonde hair, a grayish complexion and, despite the heat of a typical July evening, a full length brown winter coat that was probably older than she was.
"Nice car!" She said as she continued to pound away.
"I sure wish I had a car like this!"
I looked down at Bruce's old green finned sedan to see what she saw that I didn't. I mean this car was a serious mess.
"You like this junk car??" I asked.
"Oh, yeah I wish I had one!"
She reached out to stroke the side of the car and as she did so, the sleeve of that old beaten coat rode up. I could see track marks going up the length of her arm for as far as I was able to see. I had never seen anything like that before. I glanced at her face and was stunned to see that, despite anything else, she had the most gorgeous blue eyes. Those eyes broke my heart.
"Where are you from?" I asked her.
"Nebraska." she answered.
"Don't you have family?" By that time I was near tears.
"Yeah I got a sister but I havent seen her for a long time now."
I stared into those eyes and felt the tears beginning to well up in my own eyes and stream down my cheeks.
"Get out of this place!" I knew yelling at her was not getting me anywhere but I couldn't seem to control my anguish.
"You aren't making it here. You'll die if you stay!"
She just stared at me with a blank look.
"Beej, come on we need to go." One of my friends grabbed my arm and pulled me away. The blond lady, definitely an addict and most probably homeless, began to follow us.
"You're a nice girl!" she called out to me.
"You got any money?"
A few other street people joined her and began to follow us, all the while begging for cash.
"Get the f^^K away from us!" Bruce angrily yelled, and soon after, they disappeared.
For years, no exaggeration, I was haunted by those eyes. Something in them told me, "I am a human being, just like you. And, but for the grace of God, you could be me." I saw her as a fellow human. And I never ever forgot her.
I'm sure she's dead by now. In fact, I'm sure, unless she received swift and serious help, shes probably been dead for years and years. But despite her circumstances, despite her choices, she taught me such an important lesson, that deep down inside, in that part of each of us that thinks over the day as we fall asleep, we are not much different from one another.
Not at all. Not really.
(Oh ,and to end on a lighter note, I'm happy to tell you that we did, indeed, get into Studio 54. But I'll save that story for a different day.)
Week Three Summary
3 years ago