Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Promise Me You'll Write It Down

I haven’t met a perfect person. I’ve never known a saint. I didn’t have a hero, except maybe my dad. I’ve always had this ability to know things about people. I read what they’re thinking. At least I think it’s what they’re thinking. It could be what they’re feeling. In the end it’s who they are at any given moment. I don’t know how it works. It’s like information on the air.

A young women used to work for me. She was a bit like Katie Couric’s little sister. She was an editor, and she worked hard at what she did. She came from a fine family from the best part of Chicago. She grew up with the best schools and a loving, close knit family. Her name is Amy.

When Amy wasn’t working, she was walking, jogging, hiking. She had found a way to make a life as a single, city woman. She had her job. She was active at her church. She followed her routines, which defined her interactions with people and the world.

There were so many stories of coworkers, riding the bus to work who saw Amy outwalk the bus and get to work before them. People used to watch her energy and be amazed.

But not many people knew her well. I don’t think any people knew her well.

Amy started working at a shelter. She was barely five feet tall. Every Thursday night, this tiny foreigner would ride the bus down to where the taxis wouldn’t go, and then she’d come to work on Friday. Hardly anybody knew. Her parents were concerned, but she was not.

About a year later, she came into my office one afternoon and told me she was leaving. She was going to Bolivia. She would work in an orphanage for a few months so that she could learn the language. Then she would return to live in El Paso to work with homeless people in a border town near there. Amy would be leaving her home, her family, and a lovely lifestyle. She would be going to something she knew hardly anything about.

When she told me she was going, it was like a light was shining on her, through her. I’d known her for two years and I’d never seen her, or anyone, look that way before. She radiated happiness beyond the most beautiful new mother. She was filled with certainty and with a settled joy that passed from her to me. To be frank, it might have been the only time that I thought she wasn't doing something for someone's approval.

I was filled with so much feeling, just looking across my desk at her. A lump came to my throat, though we’d not been close until that moment. The words came spilling out of me. I’m not sure at all of what I said except for one thing I kept repeating for days after. She heard it until she left.

“You have to take a journal. Promise me you’ll write about it. Someone will need to know about it. It’s important. Promise me.” That’s what I said.

Last I heard she’s doing exactly that.
—me strauss Letting me be


mergrl said...

beautiful story Liz, thanks for sharing it.

Hope you are having a good evening!

ME Strauss said...

Hi mergrl,
thanks. I'm working too hard.
But you just made it better.

Autumn Storm said...

Wonderful story!!
(How could she not have been filled with light.)

ME Strauss said...

Hi Autumnstorm,
It was a most amazing thing.

mojo shivers said...

It's always good to find something that makes you happy. A lot of people think they know what's going to do that for them, but often times it's something or someone outside the box that really does it for you.

Someday I hope to leave my own box.

"So far, keeping it together has been enough
Look up, rain is falling, looks like love..."
--"Look Up", Stars

Cheryl said...

I am beaming!
Isnt it wonderful when someone becomes who they need to become. I love it when it feels like the whole world has just fallen into place :-)
Thanks for a special post.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Patrick,
How nice of you to come bearing a song to express yourself.

I don't imagine many of will quite be filled with the light i saw that day, but I think you'll find your calling. I hear in the way you know yourself that comes through in your writing.

ME Strauss said...

HI Cheryl,
Beaming. What a wonderful way to be. Just that word has me sitting here beaming right back at you.

Yes I think it's wonderful too, and soft of amazing. I really want her to document the changes as they happen to her. That will be a grown up girl who becomes a woman of the world.


Bluesky_Liz said...

There really is something with people who are doing what they like and have a passion for. They glow and when they talk, you can hear that happy music in their voice.

I have a friend who found her calling as a christian missionary. I remember when she told me her decision to drop her career and pursue this difficult path but there was this joy in her. And I although I doubted her decision then, I did remember being really happy for her, that she found something she really wanted to do.

I keep telling her to keep a blog or something, but she's always too busy. :)

ME Strauss said...

Hello, Liz!
You experience sounds so like mine.
Glow that's a good word for it. Yes, she seemed to glow with joy. I hear she's very calmly happy with her decision which will be one year in January. A mutual friend read the post this morning and said I had described her accurately. I hope she's capturing this experience. Another like her will want to know.


Jennifer said...

If we could all be more courageous and go after what we realy wanted.

Lovely story. And I do and shall always have my journal next to me with anything I do. Wonderful advice.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Jennifer,
I often have my journal with me. Less often do I open it to write. I sometimes lose the moment if I put things down on paper too early. It's as if my mind says okay done with that.


easywriter said...

A remarkable young woman and a tale told with passion. I had a lump in my throat too. I wonder how many people there are in the world who go quietly about the business of making this a better world? I know of one myself. A man, whom no one would suspect.

ME Strauss said...

Oh Easy,
You make me feel proud to have shared this story with you.

Trée said...

Reading, listening, and smiling. I feel like coming to your site and reading your stories is like sitting in a wonderfully soft leather chair that wraps itself around me and says stay awhile, you're home.


ME Strauss said...

Oh Tree,
You don't know how nice that is to hear. I like having you in my home.

Yuna said...

Our lives are often set with boundaries defined by our environments and how we grew up. Few people have broken such boundaries and pursue what they believe. I admire Amy for her belief and the necessary sacrifice she made in order to pursue true happiness. So one day she can proudly announce to the world, "I have lived!" Great story Liz! Thanks for sharing.

ME Strauss said...

How great to see you!
So many exciting things going on!

Yeah, Amy, didn't seem to think what she was doing took particular courage. Though she was aware of what she was leaving. She said she felt like a bride going to a new life.

Thank you, Yuna for your nice words.


Writer Mom said...

Thanks for this. The holidays coming on, I've gotten several requests from charities. I can't go to El Paso, but I can give more. Maybe perfect people are the ones who always give more. My grandmother was perfect. People thought she was a push-over, but she was an angel.
Your posts remind me of her. Make me feel the same way as when she and I sat drinking coffee. I always left her reassured that things can always get better.

ME Strauss said...

Oh Writer Mom,
What a generous compliment you give me, that I bring back to you memories of your grandmother. Thank you so much.

I'm starting to learn that some of the giving is just showing up and being present. People thrive on the presence of others who know that they exist. I've felt invisible. I don't want anyone to feel that way.

From My Pen said...

This is a beautiful reminder of those who cross into our lives and leave us warm. I wish 20 some odd years ago I had listened to those exact words. Write it down

ME Strauss said...

Hi My Pen,
It's never too late to start writing it down. Write what you remember now. That's what I'm doing and look what I have already. :)