I wonder who she is. I’ve wondered since the first time I saw her from the comfort of my air conditioned car, walking in the full sun and blistering heat of summer, her backpack slung over one shoulder, sleeping bag under the other arm. I still wonder, from the comfort of my heated car, as she walks in the frigid cold, without a coat warm enough to block the arctic blasts.
I wonder what her name is. I wonder if she's near my age, as she appears to be, or if she's actually younger, her life hardening and aging her before her time. I always wonder where she’s going with her purposeful walk and her mouth set in a grim, determined line. I’ve wondered if I could look into her eyes, would I see pride and hope? Or would they be filled with defeat and hurt and anger? But I can’t see her eyes. She keeps them down, avoiding contact with anyone passing. I wonder, is she avoiding their pity? Or their ridicule? Or their apathy?
I wonder what has brought her to where she is. I wonder why she has to walk, carrying what seems to be all she owns. I wonder where the clear plastic pack, like a small child’s, came from? Did she choose it? Does she not mind that everyone can see all her possessions? Or does she simply not care? Is she too proud or just too tired to worry about it?
I wonder where she eats. Or if she has enough to eat. I wonder where she sleeps. At night, when I have to push my dog out the front door to do his business before bed, I steel myself against the wind and far-below-freezing temperatures, and I think of her. I wonder where she is. I wonder if she’s still walking… if she’s still outside, in weather not fit for my dog. I wonder if she’s warm and fed… or if she’s cold and hungry. And minutes later, when I’m in bed, under cozy blankets, my big fuzzy boy curled beside me, lending his warmth and comfort, I wonder where she’s sleeping. I wonder where she had to lay down her sleeping bag, the one she carries with her all the time… I wonder where she’s resting her head.
Most of all, I wonder if I’ll ever be kind enough, or brave enough, to stop her… and simply ask.