Something remarkable happened just now, about a quarter of an hour ago.
I was coming home from the record store at Faneuil Hall, when a young woman--I am going to say she is about twenty-eight--approached me. She said that she was from Brunswick, Maine, and that she had just had her wallet stolen, etc. This felt like a scam to me, so I remarked--and it was true enough--that I didn't have anything, sorry.
I was not ten paces away, when I stopped and looked back. I knew this woman. Her name is Ann. Or she had said her name was Ann, when I first encountered her last December, at the Dunkin' Donuts that is now closed, across from Park Street Church. She was wearing a New York Giants winter hat, minus a pom pom, and she had on a similar type of hat today, though not a Giants one. She was asking for change outside of the Dunkin' last December, and I actually walked past her, before I felt guilty, and walked back, as she was under-dressed. I asked her if she wanted to go to Dunkin' Donuts with me, which was where I was headed, and she assented.
It was a long line, because it was when people were making their morning commute. So we had a chance to talk. She was attractive, well spoken, ex-military, and she looked, for lack of a better word, healthy. She didn't look like she was living out on the street, she didn't look like she was on drugs. My sister Kerrin died of a heroin overdose. I know the look of drugs like that. She told me that her boyfriend physically abused her, and she had to leave in the night. She had nowhere to go. I asked where she was from. She said she was from Brunswick, Maine. She said the situation there was bad. Her mother was raising her stepsister, I believe it was, and they did not get on. Ann, that is, and the mother.
I shared some things about my experiences with her, with a break-up, and trauma, which I touched on in the last post on here. We had a good rapport. Like I said, she was smart. And like I also said, she was under-dressed. We got what we were getting, and I said, look, you can't be outside like this, let's go to a store and I'll get you a coat. We walked down to the shopping area at Downtown Crossing. We talked about Facebook, I remember that, and how she felt it was debilitating, how people assumed identities on there, various false makes of self, that did no one any good.
At the store, she tried on jackets until she found one that worked and I bought it. Back outside the store, I said something about how families can be rough, but no one is going to lock you out, you can go home until you figure out what to do next. Now, did I believe her about everything? I didn't. I didn't not believe her. Either way, if she was in a bad situation, I wanted to do what small thing I could to help. She said, "maybe." And I said, "look, there's a bus out of South Station in an hour." I had looked up the schedule while she was trying on jackets. "I'll put you on it." She didn't want to do that. So, at that point, I took out my wallet, gave her the Dunkin' Donuts gift card I had, wrote down my email address for her on a piece of paper and said, "If you change your mind, get in touch with me, like from a library, and I'll help you get to Maine." Then I shook her hand, and wished her luck.
A while later, all of this gave me an idea for a story, which is one of the future stories mentioned in that roster/stat sheet post a little while back. I felt bad after that day because it never occurred to me to get her gloves, and that probably could have helped. I am not usually stupid like that in my thinking. And it occurred to me that it was also kind of dumb not to give her my phone number, and I don't know why I gave her just my email address. Suffice it to say, I never heard from her again, but each time I went past that Dunkin' Donuts, I'd keep an eye out for her.
And then today, there she was. She didn't remember me. I walked not far behind her for a bit, watching her approach many people. One man gave her some money, everyone else did what I had done--well, this second time--and had moved on almost immediately. I've never been to Brunswick. But here's a random photo from there.