Update: I saw her again, on one of the coldest nights of the year. She was sitting on the #16 with her big bag on the seat next. She was quieter this time, though I did hear her soft, high voice as she asked the kid next to her about his day at school. He mumbled something back before getting of the bus a bit early. I wonder where she slept last night?
This lady gets on the #16, she's old and hunched and round and carrying a ton of bags -- probably five large grocery or cloth or trash bags. Who knows how she carries them all? She is old and wrinkled but it's not apparent at first just how wrinkled her face actually is because she has a blue, powder blue blanket wrapped around her shoulders like a cape or a cloak. Its the big kind of blanket, the large kind you might find on a bed, and it has that texture of a cheap polar fleece, the brittle unnatural kind that reminds you of fallen leaves or styrofoam. It's this powder blue blanket wrapped around her shoulders and clasped at her chin by a large safety pin, and on her head is a knit sweater or scarf, something that keeps her ears warm, pulled over the top of her head like an old Russian woman, and her sweatshirt has some sort of small dog on it. She places all her bags slowly on the only open seat on this, the crowded #16 bus, and excruciatingly clings to the pole until the college kid next to me gets up.
She sits down and says thank you in the highest voice you've ever heard, sucking on a helium balloon kind of high-pitch sing song cadence, on an on … and I started listening to her. “Each day is a new beginning” was the first thing she said. “Every day God gives you a chance to start anew,” she went on, this little wrinkled quite probably homeless blue-blanketed lady with a high, high singsong voice. “And Jesus said I am branch and the vine,” she squeaked on. I was the closest person to her, just a seat and a half away on her left, and when she would speak she would almost turn and face me, almost but not quite looking in my direction. Almost making a sidelong glance, “Each day is a new beginning. The Lord Jesus Christ heals all sins,” almost looking at me but not quite, instead turning her head back to stare straight ahead, then turning again three quarters back to me. “I am the light and the truth and the way. Each day is a new beginning.”
She went on and on and it was like she was talking to me. It was exactly like she was talking to me, in that she had her head turned almost to me, and I could see her eyes, and I started at her openly as she sang on with her high voice. Turning almost to me over and over for what seemed like a lot more than three minutes. It seemed like an hour. I wanted to say something back to her. I wanted to say “thank you” or “good luck,” but I just got off the bus and didn’t look back.