A woman named Ruth stopped Mikee and my dog Shalby and I as we walked out of our apartment building. She was a tall and slender woman with grayish hair and warm caramel coloured skin. She wore an ordinary light weight winter jacket that fell just below her hips with dark pants underneath, and she stood stiffly, barely moving as if doing so would hurt. There was a softness and peacefulness about her face that made her appear as though she was smiling even if she wasn't. Part of the reason why I think Ruth stopped us was because Shalby was bouncing around on the sidewalk near her feet. Without bending over, Ruth lowered her head very slightly and then greeted her with a quiet,
"Hello. What’s your name?"
Then she looked up and introduced herself to us and said,
“Everyday I try to say hello to at least one new person."
“What new thing have you learned today?”
I was startled by her question and replied robotically,
"Today is beautiful."
I smiled to soften the stupidity of my response.
Ruth was quiet, and just stood still, staring at me. I think she was confused by my answer. To my defense, although I know what I said made absolutely no sense, I tend to blank out when I get startled, or nervous, and then I temporarily lose my words. This is New York City, and I have strangers saying things to me at all times, some of whom are serious to want to begin a conversation, whereas others are forwarding me a message from God (yes, I know my parents love me. I don’t need to tell them because I told them yesterday over the phone).
Then Mikee added,
“We learned about the importance of staying in the present.”
Ruth smiled at the both of us, said goodbye and then very slowly, walked away.