Every morning for the past year on the drive to work she's there. A homeless woman at the corner intersection, sitting behind a telephone transformer, staring out into the world. Her face is ruddy and red, she's overweight, her cigarette slowly burns in her hand. Her short hair peaks over her face from time to time from the scarf she wraps around her head.
I've never seen her move, she just sits and stares. The grassy area where she sits and lays down is worn down, only the dirt is there now. Every so often a Meals-On-Wheels person stops to drop her off some breakie.
I see her for the briefest of moments everyday. No more than 2 minutes tops depending on traffic. But she's become a constant, a routine. I see her everyday while I wait at the light, waiting for my turn to move ahead and face the world.
I can't help but wonder what she thinks of when she stares out into the world. Why does she stay here? She doesn't look sick or frightening. Is she here because she can't deal with the world anymore? Did she loose someone? Did her heart break? Did she loose her job? Does she have family? Why does she always have Dr. Pepper bottles with her? Why don't the pigeons bother her? What does she think of the rap/rock/reagaeton music that blares from the cars as she sits there? Why, why why?
I can't help but look when I see her. MTG notices her too but never really looks. Usually she's leaning back in the seat with her eyes closed, or putting on makeup. I often think to myself to someday pick her up something to eat and bring it to her and simply ask her why she's there. I think this but I never do it. She doesn't ask for money from cars like so many other homeless people. She doesn't make a spectacle of herself like the church people on the corner asking for funds. She doesn't scream at the top of her lungs like the pep-rally girls collecting funds and offering car washes that stand on the corner either. She has no mess around her, no possessions. She sits and stares, ever the constant feature.
But then this past month, she disappeared. At first I thought that maybe she moved to go to the convenient store for smokes and something to drink. But day after day she's been gone. Slowly the patch of grass that was worn out has come back. I wonder if the business where she used to sit by that was forever closed but recently re-opened forced her to move. I wonder if she was picked up by the social services. I wonder if she pulled herself together and got on with her life. I wonder if the summer heat made her seek shelter at a homeless center. I wonder if she simply moved somewhere else. I wonder if she's okay. I wonder. I imagine, it's easy if you try.
And then today I see her. But not where I imagined I would. I see her in a place I don't want to see her in. MTG brings me the obits and there she is, Jane Doe, MTG points this out to me. I wish I would have seen her as the lottery winner picture instead of this. I wish she could have found what she was looking for. I wish that she didn't become a small part of my life that insignificant as it was, made me stop and think every morning about how fortunate I am. I wish I would have stopped and brought her food and talked to her at least once. I wish that she simply moved to another spot and was fine. I wished that maybe she was picked up with social services and was being taken care of. I wish she was okay. But it's not to be. There's Jane Doe, staring back. No family, no friends. Buried with no name, no one came, no one cared.
MTG: I wonder why they couldn't find her name?
Me: She has a name.
MTG: How do you know?
Me: Eleanor Rigby
MTG smiles and runs her hand through my hair as she walks past me. She grabs the clothes she was folding and takes them upstairs. I look at the obit one more time and grab a pen. I scratch out Jane Doe and write above it, "Eleanor Rigby."
Eleanor Rigby - Ray Charles