up the hill, down the hill

Up the hill, someone bowed under an arrangement of sacks and bags comes trudging, wavering a little – man or woman? Can’t tell from the back. Hooded, face shrouded. Old? Maybe not,  just poor-old. Tired – yes, for sure. Uncertainty and tiredness in every step up that steep street. The bags are bright and festive, miscast on this bowed, gray back.

Out of her house, pretty white Victorian, comes a woman loudly counseling on the phone: “You don’t have to resort to your anger with him, you know. There are other emotions you can use.” No eyes behind her shiny dark glasses, scarf fluttering in the delicate breeze, mouth downturned a little. Her hand waves slightly in confirmation of what she is saying. Down the hill she sweeps, passing the climber without a side-glance, to the big car carelessly angled out at the curb.

How fortunate, that she can spend time on the phone helping with a friend’s emotional crisis! It is such a privilege not to have to carry all you have up a steep street, not to have to find the bags first tossed away somewhere and then pack everything in them and go on the weary rounds looking for another place to sit, where the dogs or the police won’t roust you, shadowed by the hood that shelters you from the world’s narrowed gaze. Not to totter with every step in badly fitting shoes but sweep along, always flowing down the hill, fixing the pain of living with your competent words, money in your purse that never runs low or out without being replenished, giving you so much time not to get old, in fact to stay in that childhood nearly forever, where what we feel so deeply, deeply matters.

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