I met a very interesting lady tonight named Judith, on the ride home. She was an excellent contrast in character. She spoke like a New Yorker (not with the accent, but with that same feverish delivery, and the tendency to use proclamations), yet she thought like an old-school liberal. She is a piano teacher, in town from Canada to see her daughter perform in a local show. I got the feeling she is also at loose ends, a creative person playing the odds to see what will fall out of their lives. As she talked, you could almost see her fierce intellect behind her eyes. She wasn’t mean, or unkind, at least at heart. Yet there was a part of her I could sense that was neither dangerous, nor scary, but powerful all the same. I think perhaps, fearless.
The Metro’s bus and rail system was definitely not suited to Judith. That girl needs a train. She also had mental illness in her family, and in her personal life; a point we both could share. A brave and faithful traveler. Perhaps we’ll meet again.
Then later, on my last bus, I met a young lady who had a large backpack on her back. She had just been to Mississippi to some meeting for those who like to ride the rails, and we’re not talking about the ticket purchasing kind of traveler either. I told her of my own grandfather’s experiences during the great depression when “hopping freight” was common. She must have been under 30, and yet had already been married three times. Her third husband died of cancer (I believe). What she didn’t say, but what was clear to me, was that she was definitely touched by mental illness. When I meet people like this, I often wonder what will happen to them. She was very smart (she mentioned she had a degree in Chemistry), but she was also very fragile, so much so that I was almost afraid to talk to her. As if my words might harm her. She was quite the opposite of Judith, who was almost painfully centered. The two, separated by a middle train run, made for a very bizarre commute.