I was driving up 405 on my way home from a usability study for Microsoft. Had some fun and got my toy as reward, so not melancholy, despite the weather. I was in a good mood and there was a break in the rain which has been relentless this spring.
My eyes were drawn to a hand fluttering out of a driver's window. I love watching people in the other cars, heading towards something or someone. I imagine their lives, taking those flashes I see and creating a flipbook in my mind of who they could be. All these people clutching cell phones, twining hair, eating, reading (I kid not - saw a woman reading a book propped against her steering wheel while merging onto the freeway. Might have mentioned her before), they each have alternate fates that my insatiable imagination has penned in my mind's eye for them.
But this hand dancing from an SUV didn't provide anything. I like to think it's because somehow I knew that a piece was missing. Sometimes, on sunny days, I'll cruise my arm out the window, orchestrating music or just dancing with the breeze - I'm running alongside the car, in the sun, even when I don't have time to enjoy the warmth and am zipping from errand to meeting. So my imagination had enough to go on with this butterfly hand, but it was stalling on dead air. I was nearly parallel with the SUV, curious now, when the hand swooped inside and then popped back out again, this time with a cigarette.
Such a lovely hand; fine-boned with elegant fingers, youngish, and turned so quickly into an object of pity. The only thought I had was that this woman was slowly killing herself. So no backstory was bubbling up from my creative recesses because it was fruitless, her past. She didn't have much of a future, so forming her past in my head would be a maudlin exercise of futility.
I was passing her by, but my thoughts stayed on her and her smoky hand. How sad, I thought. Interesting that I am so convinced of premature passing with that habit. My mind went exactly there - oops, kiss her goodbye. What a waste. Yet on a more surface level, I'm not sickened by smoking, it's just not for me. But I do have the underlying belief that it shortens lives and that those who do smoke, die younger than they might have. Probably from my father dying as young as he did. And it's just true that every smoker I've met knows they should quit and that it's harmful, but they do it anyway.
It's been hours, and I had forgotten until Keefe was playing GTA IV, smashing his car through police barricades and swooping over pedestrians and I was suddenly reminded. I don't know why. But I felt the need to post a farewell kiss to the suicide girl.
- ▼ 2008 (20)