Another reader question today: What one thing would you change if you had to do it over again?
She was an odd duck.
Before and after class she muttered to herself. Her straight, uncombed, bright yellow hair stood on end as if she’d just received a static shock and her clothing, while fairly clean, was mismatched and several sizes too big.
Sometimes she’d follow along with the conversation. At other times she slipped in and out of our plans for the weekend, summer or life after community college like a koi jumping out of an aquarium and then wondering what happened to all of the water. Her favourite topic was her pets. They understood her in ways people didn’t and she spent all of her free time with them. I have a vague memory of her mentioning out loud once after class how different her bond with her pets was from her fragile connections with other human beings.
She never understood why other people found her abrupt tone, odd mannerisms and non-standard use of the English language so bizarre.
I never said or did anything unkind to her. After a few aborted conversations I barely spoke to her at all.
I wish I had.
I wish I still remembered her name.
I wish she could have gotten some help. Her isolation (and loneliness?) was a skinny, brown puppy huddled in the corner waiting to be named.