(This is the fourth post in a series of 'women who have shaped my life'. I got this idea from Bre, who has been doing a better job at posting these than me.)
When I get bored at work I will roam campus looking for a vending machine that sells something that is gluten free. Or just something that looks like it wasn't made prior to Trudeau taking office (whoo ha! A little Canadian history reference for you, which means that basically it's a reference that no one will get. Moving on..). And once I admit defeat and spend my money on sour candies from the vending machine, I wander over to the coffee stand that almost bankrupted me my first year of college.
One day not so long ago, I had paid for my tea and felt the unmistakable sensation of being watched. I looked around and spotted my stalker. A well dressed, elderly woman with a shock of short white hair. She waved. I waved. And since I had no idea who she was, I proceeded to be deeply interested in the color of my tea.
People stare at me a lot. This has nothing to do with any weird extra limb, or my hobbit like status, but because I look a lot like my mom and everyone seems to know her. So, they think they know me, when they don't. Usually, I just smile and wave and then the person does the same and walks away.
Instead, this lady came over.
It turns out, Edie did know me. I had taught her grand kids figure skating when they were younger. She was at the college to meet her granddaughter for lunch. I admired her brooch and we chatted about the insanity of extra low-rise jeans being in style. She repeatedly kept looking to my left hand and then finally asked the question all single girls hate:
"So, not married?"
I said no.
Usually, this is where the conversation ends. Though I like to complain about my single status, I usually reserve this privilege to friends, or people who subscribe to read about it,- Edie was neither. I looked at her, ready to follow-up my one-syllable answer with an excuse, a joke, a way to change of subject, but I didn't. She had asked so nicely, and had waited patiently for a reason rather than just a response, I couldn't ignore it- I couldn't ignore her. And there was something about the way she looked at me that felt that lying to her would be as bad as lying to myself. So, I told her the truth:
"It all just seems really hard."
Her freckled hand with pale blue veins mapped out like a tree's roots, reached for mine and she laughed.
"My dear, all you need is to find someone who puts up with you, but who won't when you don't deserve it. If you find that, you've found everything."
And with those two sentences, my dating philosophy was born.
The conversation drifted and we sipped our tea, just two women surrounded by students. One woman knew everything, the other just enough to realize how important the other womans words were.