10 February 2009

Smiles, Frowns, Happy, Sad

There is a middle-aged woman with frizzy red hair who rides the bus quite often from Vésenez to Hermance. I see her at least once a week. But I have never seen her smile. She doesn't look so much sad as angry at the world. I always wonder what has happened to make her so sour. I have caught her eye and smiled a time or two, but she has always looked intensely uncomfortable, frowned, and looked away. She personifies the concept of lonely, stuck in a trap of her own making.

Often as I stare out the bus window into oblivion - squinting into the darkness, lost in reflection - I wake with a sudden jolt and realize that I am wearing this red-haired woman's expression - the same look of annoyance and pessimism that never used to shadow my face. When this happens, I wonder if I have lived out my genuine smiles, and will see the second half of my life appear like this woman - always something to make her sad and angry, always one more thing to make her doubt the validity of her own existence. Will I be the woman on the bus who makes eye contact with nobody, not comfortable in her own skin?

The thought makes me unhappy. But if I were to bet, I would say that the same thought would have made her unhappy twenty years ago. What happens to people to make them like this? What kind of choices do they make? What sort of god do they serve?

I wonder what that woman thinks about when she looks out the window.

Who am I again?
That girl in Switzerland


  1. Heather darling, you could never stop smiling, you are not the red headed lady from the bus. And if ever you feel it coming on, I ask you will come see me and I will make you laugh if it kills me :) (We could just watch A midsummer's night dream together, that would fix it)

  2. I would KILL for another Shakespeare night with you. That was SUPER FUN! And yes, for awhile there, I wondered if I would ever just feel thoroughly happy again. But Shakespeare would fix that, you're right.