feeling the pull of a bog standard old woman
My neighbor died yesterday.
A neighbor I never particularly cared for.
There’s a lot going on in my head as a result so I thought I’d sit down and start writing to see what comes out. You see, the room I write in looks directly out at the house she lived in. I can’t help staring at it. Imagining her walking around outside as I’d watched her do countless times.
About ten years. That’s how long she lived across the street from me. For the first year or so I would wave or offer brief small talk when I saw her outside. After that I simply ignored her.
She was an alcoholic. She was drunk a lot and if there was a picture next to the words ‘white trash’ in the dictionary they could do a lot worse than showing her headshot. She wasn’t loud or abusive; she was just sad and angry. A living cautionary tale about how a life can take a wrong turn.
A few years back her husband, who himself was a total and complete douche bag, left her. Left her to raise their three totally scruffy and completely unlikable kids alone.
Her drinking got worse after that.
Some of the other neighbors got along with her and some didn’t but for the most part she simply didn’t exist in my world. I felt like if she was standing in the middle of the road I could have driven right through her with no ill effects.
Three days ago she fell down the stairs in her house, no doubt drunk or at least well on the way.
She broke her collarbone and a rib and was sent home from the hospital the next day. Apparently the doctors missed the internal bleeding and when she was rushed to the ER yesterday in excruciating pain with a high fever even emergency surgery wasn’t enough to save her.
It seems so unreal. The woman who I watched literally hundreds of times get in and out of her car and in and out of her house doesn’t exist anymore. I still can’t process it.
And I don’t know how to feel.
I don’t want to be one of those insincere morons who canonize someone simply because they died. I also don’t want to pretend that I don’t feel anything, because I do.
I just don’t know what.
And then I remember something that I’ve been wrestling with separately which both crystallizes it and makes it worse. I had listened to a podcast where two scientists were discussing reality and its possible connection to the ‘divine’ when one of them postulated that perhaps “love is a form of gravity.”
Love is a form of gravity.
I think about my neighbor’s body now. Laying somewhere. I think about it down to the atomic level. Now devoid of consciousness… whatever that is.
Feeling her pull.
The urge to examine myself. Down to the atomic level. What is it my conscience trying to tell me? Am I having some sort of epiphany? Am I about to have some brilliant insight into the human condition?
Instead the words “bog standard old woman” keep repeating themselves in my head. A quote from Karl Pilkington while talking to Ricky Gervais and Steve Merchant on Ricky’s old podcast about a woman he knew that had died. A horrible and hysterical thing to articulate. Unvarnished truth, one of the reason’s I love the podcast.
Why I’m attracted to it.
Why I feel its pull.
But now I feel torn. Pulled in two directions after my own “bog standard old woman” has died. Like a comet passing between two planets.
It was easier to ignore her. To dislike her. Her and the days she squandered in a drunken haze. One planet.
Like the days I squander… without the haze. Another planet.
Much less complicated. So I stare out the window at the house where she lived. Feel this weird ache inside. I can’t pretend I’ll miss her, just the opposite. The opposite being that there is something inside me that’s gone. Maybe not completely opposite now I think about it. Maybe just half way between opposite and the opposite of opposite.
Are we supposed to love everyone? Find a way to like them and appreciate them?
Even the “bog standard old women?”
And now that I’ve written this, what’s the point of it?
And now that she is gone I wonder what’s the point of it all? The big all. The point of her and our interaction. Her and everyone else.
And why is “bog standard old woman” so damn funny?