Sunday, November 27, 2011
A woman about my age apologized as she slid into the window seat next to my aisle seat and as she stowed her purse under the seat she asked me if I was headed home or leaving home. She wore cowboy boots and lots of silver. When I asked where she was headed - just a routine, polite query - the floodgates opened. I learned that she'd recently been dumped by her boyfriend; she hadn't seen it coming at all, and tears began to fall as she spoke about it. He had apparently taken the coward's tried and true route: it's-not-you-it's-me. She could get no deeper explanation from him. Everything had been right about him except that in the four years they dated he'd never once picked up a tab or treated at dinner. He hadn't asked her to move into his house. To add to it all, her sister had died recently and suddenly of cancer.
I don't feel as if I have the kind of countenance and demeanor that invites the sharing of personal information by total strangers. But at the check-out line at the grocery, I hear a lot about weight problems and diets, lousy ex-boyfriends and rotten bosses or lazy co-workers. And on planes, when forearms and thighs are just a little too close to the person next to you, all kinds of personal stuff comes out. I guess there is safety in unburdening one's heart to a complete stranger. Or maybe there is a kind of comfort in reaching out, making a connection in a world that can feel cold and impersonal. Have I done it? Said too much to someone without even knowing or asking their name? Certainly not...And then it occurs to me: I'm a blogger.