Last night I headed back to my apartment after dinner, a video, and a tremendous fight with Autumn. Who knew you could get into an argument with someone about whether or not Julie Andrews was convincing as a man in Victor / Victoria. (Autumn said, “No way.” I said, “In a gendercentric society, people see what they expect to see.” She said, “No way.” I said, “You’ve just got Mary Poppins on the brain.” She asked, “If people see what they expect to see, how come you think people should recognize that Clark Kent is just a slouching Superman wearing a pair of glasses?” I said, “You know the conversation has really deteriorated when a person has to bring up comic book characters to make her point.…” “Or Mary Poppins,” she added….) So, after I helped Autumn clean up from dinner, I called it a night. I had to do my laundry, anyway.
On my way up the sidewalk to my building I noticed a person huddled in my doorway. I didn’t see the familiar reddish cigarette glow, so I was instantly suspicious. I quickly took out my keys, shoved my iPhone down the front of my pants, and tried to remember everything I’d learned in my self-defense classes. As I approached the door, I was thinking, "OK, if he goes for me, first, I scream: NO! Then, Distract – Release – Retaliate." As I got closer, the person straightened up and directed a beaming smile in my direction, a smile that I knew only too well, one that I had been imagining for years.
“Hello Sissy,” she said.
“NO! Distract – Release – Retaliate,” I thought.
“Hello, Faith,” I said. “What are you doing here?”
“I left my husband.”
“So, what does that have to do with me?”
“I have nowhere to go. My family is looking for me. I don’t have any friends outside the church….”
“Again, what does that have to do with me? How did you find me, any way.”
“Google Maps. You added your location to one of your posts, and I scouted out all the apartment buildings in the area until I found your name.”
Dang! Stupid Google Locator!
“Look, Faith, I still don’t know how you thought finding me was going to do you any good….”
“Didn’t you get my last email?”
I imagined the sound of a flushing toilet. My Gmail filter was set to send any message from SisterFaith@godlymail.com straight to my Spam folder for immediate deletion.
“No, and so what?”
“I know you never answer my emails, but I made the subject: 'Urgent, Please Read.' In the message I told you I was coming and that all you had to do was reply, 'Don’t Come,' and I wouldn't. So, when I didn’t hear from you...
Stupid Gmail filter…. OK, I guess that’s not fair. Stupid me for being so passive and not confronting this situation directly, in the first place. Well, here was my chance.
“Faith, I don’t want anything to do with you. I want you to stay the heck out of my life.”
“I just need a couple of days until I can get my bearings. I don’t have anywhere else to go…”
“There are some excellent hotels here in Chicago. From the looks of your designer coat, bag, shoes, and hair, it doesn’t look like you’re hurting for money.”
“You’re wrong. I don’t have anything. When my husband and father heard that I’d left, they closed out all my credit cards. I had to walk most of the way here after getting off the train from the airport.”
I admit that I was softening just then. The Blue Line train, from the airport, is quite a hike away from my place. But I thought about Autumn. Sure, we’d just had a stupid fight, but overall, things were going very well, and I was finally opening up to the possibility of having a relationship with someone I cared about and who cared for me.
Then Faith folded her hands, bowed her head, and kneeled down at my feet, “Sissy, I’m begging you, please forgive me.”
I had always comforted myself with the notion that one of these days, Faith would regret the way she treated me, and she’d come crawling back. But, that thought was usually preceded by several cocktails. Now, totally, sober, seeing her down there, with the slush soaking through the knees of her pants, staining the front of her expensive wool coat, I felt like the jerk of the world, because my first thought was, “Hah! I was right! How sweet it is!” My second thought was what I said to her: “Come on.” I took her hand, which was ice cold, and helped her back onto her feet. “Let’s go inside and get you warmed up.”