Thin Lines and the High Cost
I want to write about two things. The narrow line between us and those less fortunate than us. And the high cost of love.
Yesterday, I heard Bucky bark sharply and I went to investigate.
When I got to the door, there was a girl -- maybe 24 or 25 years old, close-shorn -- think Sinead O'Connor -- with a backpack and the tell tale marks of meth on her face.
She seemed disoriented and started telling me about how she used to live where we now live, she was looking for someone, a lot of disjointed information ... and, as I shouted for Jim, I told her I wanted her to leave.
As she walked away, she mumbled something about how she'd like me to leave ... but she did go quietly.
I spent the rest of the day feeling horrible about the episode. She had made me feel endangered, threatened ... and ashamed.
She was an addict wandering our neighborhood, looking for something, someone. What should I have done? Should I have been more kind, should I have tried to help her?
My mother's phrase would have been "There but for the grace of God ...," the phrase that reminds you how connected you are to every other human, no matter how you try to distance yourself.
I just wanted her away from me. I don't want to be reminded of that thin line between the homeless person on the street and the well-fed, well-clothed individual encased in their car, driving down that street.
So I engaged in rationalization. That, however it plays out, we each have a role to play in this life ... that my role is my role, hers is hers. If I had allowed her to enter any more of my space than she had, she would have attempted manipulation. That I couldn't have truly helped her unless she wanted to be helped ... that she wasn't specifically asking for help, and that I'm not trained for that sort of intervention.
All excuses that came back to me when I was trying to go to sleep last night, after feeling unsettled and unhappy since the episode happened.
As I lie there, replaying all of it in my head again, I thought, too, of how much Jim and others I love in this life mean to me. What if I didn't have them? What if I lost them? And I will lose them. Because life is a series of loss.
This is not my ordinary frame of mind. It is only when I've been jarred off balance, as I was with the girl's appearance on my doorstep, and my gut reaction to her and her situation. Which she made my situation.
You see someone who has lost everything and it reminds you of what it could be to lose everything you love. The thin line between who you are now and who you could be, if love left your life.
That is the high cost of love. Because it resides in humans, who are fragile and transient by nature, love is fragile and transient. So much easier to lose than you realize, if you have never lost.
This is what I felt last night.