Today I was running in D.C. in the rain. My feet were getting damp through my Dansko clogs and I could tell that the raincoat I packed was not really rain proof any more. My hands were getting wet, so I knew I couldn't really deal with the other parts of me that were getting wet or tuck my hair under my hood successfully.
I had parted with my husband and kids and mother and father in law as they began their day in the American History Museum of the Smithsonian so I could grab a coffee. I would absolutely need it to pull another full day of this kind of travel.
I came to a catty-wampus intersection that had a secondary pedestrian light in the middle of multiple lanes of traffic. My timing was bad and I was going to barely make it across the confusing part in time to make a run across half of the lanes of traffic. And a blind woman was going to get stuck in the middle, as she was just barely finding the light with her cane. She asked for help as I was deciding whether or not she would be offended by the offer.
We made small talk about the rain until the light changed. She wore a long wool coat that looked like it was working fairly well, but she pointed to her head and said, "All I need is a better hood."
I could tell by now she needed a lot more, and by the end of the conversation later I knew I was right. A home, for example. I know she wasn't speaking of all of her life needs, but it still struck me later. In the context of what is available to her and what she needs for the life she is living....a better hood would be something that would make a difference in her life and that would make her condition more positive.
When I mentioned Montana, she smiled a bright smile and said, "you have Bitterroot there!" I told her yes, and I had lived in the Bitterroot Valley. She smiled more broadly and asked, "is it pinkish?" It was interesting to me how much she talked about color as we talked more about flowers. I think she would like lupine and we talked about it descriptively through comparisons to other flowers and the shape and arrangement of it and all the colors of lupine there are. She memorizes state flowers and she talks to people about what they all look like. She said a few times she knows nature and animals because she lives on the street. But she spoke about it much, much differently than other homeless people I've spoken to over the years.
It was just as cool an encounter and statement about the capitol and American history as any of the exhibits I saw when I got to the museum, even though it was all awesome.
Bellow is a small smattering of picutres from the day, but I sure wish I had asked her if I could take her picture and that I had asked her name.
This post was written as part of NHBPM – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J