The other day, Harriet and I were out on one of our daily This-Is-Good-For-Us Walks. She doesn’t like them and always complains. I think she’s been spending too much time around Rose — The Head Cat in this House — learning tricks on How To Complain Effectively Around Ann. Rose is an absolute master at that game. Anyway, there we were down on the corner waiting for a streetcar to take us somewhere, anywhere that wasn’t Major Street. Those weeks and weeks of home confinement had given me a major case of cabin fever that I am just now getting over.
Since I decided to travel light and not carry a book in my backpack, I picked up a copy of the free paper to keep me entertained. This was unlikely to happen since the best thing it is good for is putting under the litter box. But, hey, I knew I’d have to wait, as usual, for the streetcar to come so I might as well read my horoscope at least. (The transportation system had not become any more reliable since my surgery, and that’s for sure.) I leaned me, Harriet and The Cane against the telephone pole in as comfortable a position as that would allow. I wonder, at this stage in my life, why it isn’t required that all bus/subway/streetcar stops have benches for the not-so-spry to sit on while waiting. There are an amazing number of us right now. One day, on the streetcar, Harriet and I had to walk all the way to the back because all of the front seats were occupied by walker or cane yielding folks. What is this world coming to? And, it isn’t even icy/snowy winter time when the numbers go up even higher. Well, we know we are not alone, that is for sure.
While I was getting ourselves comfortable, I looked across the street and saw this fellow walking arm-in-arm with a lady. He looked familiar to me, real familiar. But I just wasn’t sure if it was him. I looked and looked and sure enough it was the Murmuring Ex-Husband. (My dear sister-in-law, Carol, told me I should stop calling him that since it may be an indication that the anger I may still feel towards him has not dissipated. I assured her that was not the case and, anyway, at this point, I have to keep the name since he is one of the semi-regular characters in my blog. If I changed it now, it would confuse my readers — and maybe even me.)
As he got closer to where I was, I raised my arm in greeting, and said, cheerfully, “Hey, it’s good to see you walking around!” They both glanced over, so I know they heard me, and then they magnificently ignored me. It was just like I didn’t exist right there in front of them. Harriet gave me a little tweak of pain just then to assure me that, yes, indeed, I did exist — and that she was getting tired of standing around here. It seems the older I get the easier it is for people to totally ignore me but they are usually strangers. This was someone who I knew for many, many years. I’m sure, they must have had their reasons for not saying, “Hey, Annie”. Maybe they just wanted their walk to be private, just the two of them, and not interrupted by a well-wishing ex-wife. It’s possible, eh? But, as I climbed the too-steep stairs to the streetcar, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad and wished the whole encounter had not happened. But, I was also insulted that I had been treated like that yet again.
Luckily, the first seat by the driver was empty so I didn’t have to beg whoever was sitting there to “Please, give me the seat.” This could have resulted in me getting rudely ignored a second time in a very short period of time. I’m not sure I could have held back the tears if that had happened. As I sat there, I tried not to think about that encounter and concentrate instead on the throw-away paper that I still had crushed in my hand. But I couldn’t read at the same time that what had just happened was on re-wind in my head. I always do that. I usually try to figure out what I did that caused this response in someone. Surely I could have done something differently. At the time, I thought about just pretending that I didn’t see them, but that’s not who I am. And if I had ignored them wouldn’t that have made me just like them?
As the streetcar made a very slow trip down College Street, I had time to think about this and other times I had been made invisible and decided that, in the end, it doesn’t change anything. I’m not going to build a stone wall around me every time I leave the house. No, I’m still going to follow my heart in my brushes with folks from my past and present and even total strangers — even if it means I may get my feelings hurt now and then.