Sunday, October 16, 2005

Windows

Not all eyes are created equal.

He would rarely look into my eyes, even though, day after day, we sat together on the same bus talking about what mattered most to us.

We’d start with the usual preliminaries about weather or day to day life but by the end of the ride, I’d find myself saying things like, “You know, I have no story anymore.”
“What do you mean?”
“You know how you say ‘I’m a teacher, or a writer, or a ditch-digger or a mother or a husband, I’m left-wing or right-wing, or I’m from this community or that?’ That’s your story. Who you are. I don’t have a story now. “
“And how do you feel about that? Do you feel free?” I think a minute.
“Yeah. In a way. And lost too.” He nods and flashes a smile that accelerates my heart rate.

The first time I saw him, he looked directly into my eyes, grinned and nodded. I had the odd sensation of having been recognized by an old friend, although I'd never seen him before.

For six months afterwards, I looked for him every day and then sat somewhere else, pretending to read, sneaking glances when I thought he wouldn’t notice. One day, I gathered my courage, stumbled around in his vicinity for a minute clutching the overhead rail and then said, “I guess I could sit with you.” He made room and I sat.

He said that by the time I did that, he’d nearly given up on me.

Now we are lovers as well as friends.

“Why wouldn’t you look directly at me before?,” I ask him, “I was always trying to catch your eye when we talked, and you would look away.”
“It would have been aggressive,” he says. I see. Yes. He’s male and muscular and big. He’s also Black. By experience of race, an emotionally astute temperament and his line of work, he knows all about signals.

Now, all that can’t be spoken we tell with our eyes and I realize that I don’t do that with anyone else - look into someone else’s eyes without fear or shyness. I feel too visible, too exposed.

“I never hid from you, “ I tell him.
“I know.”

2 comments:

Teri said...

Wow, lucky you! What a scintillating memory. Thanks for sharing. And I love the idea of having no story. :)

Koru's Daughter said...

OK, I am confused. Did you just tell a story about having no story? A perfect paradox! Hahaha!