In a late-morning hour I am trying to organize my room. Moving things from one spot to another. Bewildered by the disarray. Yells outside my window keep me distracted. I recognize the voice of the person who sometimes shouts in the mornings, and whose face I had never seen.
I go out to the porch. In the street below stands a small woman. Her white hair falls to her shoulders in splintered wisps. It seems as if it has not been combed or washed in quite a while. Her face is wrinkled and some of her teeth, so it seems from a distance, are missing. A frayed dress hangs on her small frame in simple lines. Her hand-gestures and stooped shoulders convey rage and distress.
“He is knocking on my door. Tell him to stop knocking on my door!” Her repeated accusations are followed by a rain of swears, her arms slam against the sides of her body in sharp and quick motions.
On the roof of a two-story house across the street, a man is hunched over the shingles, hammering pieces back into place. He glances at the woman below from time to time. She does not look up at him, and shoots her complaints at the passersby.
At the street’s corner sits another woman. Her face is dark and roughed-skin from sunshine and years. Whenever I walk by, I find her sited on the sidewalk with her back leaning against the drugstore’s window, legs folded under the faded blanket that covers her, a flowery headscarf tight to her head.
She spits an endless concoction of incomprehensible syllables. Her wild gaze is fixed away, beyond the street.
I leave the porch and reenter my room. My eyes travel across the chaos created by my belongings with a creeping anxiety. I try to imagine these two women in their youth. Was there a clue to their present, in the past?
In the movie The Conversation, a young woman, passing by an older man lying limply on a park bench, says: “Whenever I see one of these old guys … I always think they were once somebody’s beloved baby boy.”