portrait of a hard life

November 13, 2007

Stepping out of my car, I spot a woman turning a circle on my street, wheeling for the other direction. The car is that mild champagne color, sorta gold. It glows in the sun. It rattles. The baby in the back seat is huddled around miscellaneous items and is silent. The woman driving is harried. Her face is full of cheap meals, fat from worry, and her eyes have the barely sunken quality of a life lived hard. I think silently to myself that this is the portrait of such a life. The gentle loose rattling of her car tells me something will give out sooner or later, if even just a hub cap. I think briefly as the car finishes it’s U-turn and rickets around the corner out of sight.

I check my mail, I turn around, and look to my front door and catch out of the corner of my eye, the front end of the same car, parked near the four dumpsters serving this block. The woman is out of her car, lid lifted, head buried, looking. I wonder if I’m seeing what I think I’m seeing, as I’ve never been witness to such a private situation. The baby is still silent. I wonder briefly if I should help her, offer her some food, some money, something. As any American does, I do not. I turn my head so as to keep from eye contact, and close my door. I only feel slightly horrible before I justify that there must be separation, and I am not responsible for her well-being. Very Texan of me.

Am I soulless for not helping out? Am I a bastard for not trying to better one person’s life for even brief moment? I’m a teacher. I try to brighten faces all day long, and as I’m getting better at it, I’m finding I have less energy (at least today) to help anyone but myself. So I enter my apartment to my full meals and choice of clothes and write this blog, because confession is good for the soul.



  1. Especially with a kid? /ugh.

    Gut Wrenching.

  2. My heart goes out to that woman. May she have better days.

  3. Let me play devil’s advocate… Sometimes people makes choices that land them in these situations…

    Now for the baby… But then, we’ve worried about other babies too.

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