I wanted to tell you about so many things that are not what I am about to tell you about, but I try and try and the words won't come even though this is so important to me and I don't want to forget it.
I have been to a lot of places and I have seen so many different people. Sometimes I have been careless. But: sometimes I am a sponge, and I collect everything and everyone in my heart to save them or protect them or at least remember them so they are never lost. Three days ago I was in a plane and it flew directly over Ground Zero and I looked down into a big empty hole and I didn't feel anything and I wasn't even sad or moved and that scared me so much that started to wonder if maybe I was a big empty hole, too, but there were other people on the plane and they were talking and laughing and nobody bothered to pull up their window shade and look down at the city and nobody cried or said a prayer for anyone else and it seemed so wrong to me that we were such a plane load of big empty holes and I wondered if I was right to think that way.
But: yesterday I was at the airport and I went into the little bookstore to find something to read and there was a big girl who was probably my age and she had big sad eyes and she sat on the floor in her uniform, surrounded by a mountain of books she was already tired of sorting and I looked at her and looked at her and she caught my eyes with her big wet sad ones and anybody could see that she wanted to go home, she needed a break, she needed a friend so badly and I wanted to be it but I turned and pretended to flip through a book and I started to cry I felt so awful and guilty and why does it have to be so hard sometimes? Why didn't I try to talk to her or even smile at her or even better, wrap my arms around her and hug her tighter than she had probably ever been hugged in her life? It isn't easy to be a good person and it's even harder to be the best person and I haven't been feeling like either lately. The big empty hole gets filled in sometimes and those tears weren't even for me but for a complete stranger who I had never seen before and will never see again and it's been three days and I still think about not having smiled at her and it makes me weep. Last week a bent old woman passed me on the street and she grabbed my arm and asked in a frantic voice and very broken English if I spoke Spanish and I was so startled that I said "no" and I walked away quickly and her face was so crestfallen I remember it I remember now and what if she was having an emergency and I didn't try to help or worse maybe I didn't even care because I DO speak Spanish or at least enough of it to have tried and I used to teach Spanish for God's sake and I am sorry I am sorry I am so sorry that I didn't even try. It rained all that afternoon and it even though I had known that it would I felt like God was crying too for that awful thing I did or did not try to do. And I feel so good about myself when I tell a cashier that they gave me too much back, but I was not courageous enough to turn around and run after a crippled old woman who needed my help because it's just like Bukowski said and people are not good to each other people are not good to each other. I have arms and legs that work and I have a brain and I have a heart and most of all I have Time that precious commodity but I am selfish and I can hardly take good care of my own friends let alone strangers in need but I am trying and I am making a conscious effort and I will call you and I will make time for you and I will help you when you need it and I will remember to turn back around next time and I will