A few months ago, I was in line waiting to pay for my lunch. The person in front of me was told that her credit card was not working, so she couldn’t pay for her $6 meal. The cashier seemed annoyed, and everybody behind me was complaining about how long things were taking. The girl looked embarrassed. I heard her stomach growl.
“Add my ice cream—yes, I was having ice cream for lunch, leave me alone!—I’ll pay for her stuff, too,” I said.
“Oh no,” the girl looked horrified. “You don’t have to do that.”
“Don’t worry too much,” I smiled. “It’s not like I won’t make you pay me back. I promise to haunt you until you do. I’m mean like that, you know?”
We both laughed really loud at that. The cashier and a few people, whose lives must be measured in seconds, began to glare at us—we were holding up the line.
The girl and I exchanged phone numbers. I suggested she text me when she had the money, and we could meet by the cafeteria.
She called me a few days later, and we met by the library.
“Thanks so much,” she hugged me. “I had a test that day, and I would have probably failed if I took on an empty stomach.”
We spent a few minutes trying to learn how to pronounce each other’s names—she is Korean and I’m Dominican, so the attempts went on for a while. We said bye, after agreeing she should call me Mags and I should call her Yew.
Yesterday, nearly three months after first meeting Yew, I went to register for a course I’ve been dying to take. I’m not part of the department that offers the class. In fact, the program is not even part of my school curriculum. I get to the place, an hour before registration time, and sighed; the line was at least 28—very annoyed—people long.
A professor—whom I’m sure was ancient at the time Nature made herself—walked outside and said, “There are only two seats left.” Her words created chaos. People began cursing and speaking of injustice and bullshit. The teaching crone closed the door. The line broke, leaving only the two smiling people who got lucky.
I sat on the floor and started my laptop. I was searching for another course I could take, when a voice made me look up from the loading page.
“Hey Mags,” said Yew. “We don’t get many of your kind around here,” she cocked her head towards the morgue. “You creative types are crazy about graveyards, but not many seem interested in the stiffs.”
“You know me,” I winked. “Medical students, Witches, dead people, definitely my thing. Weird to the bone, baby.”
After twenty minutes in Yew’s office, discussing postmortem bruising, decomposition speed, and T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, I told her I had to go and see about getting into a different course.
“I can add you if you like,” Yew said. “Professor X always takes a couple of extras.”
I think I screamed a little, but I can’t remember. Everything happened really fast. One moment I was feeling crappy because I couldn’t take the class, and the next I was on the phone with my Piano Man, telling him, “Remember that girl who didn’t have money for lunch, and I let her borrow six bucks?”
“Yeah,” he said.
“She helped get into the class,” I squealed.
Life happens in circles, doesn’t she? And the living dance is so much more enjoyable, when we do it holding each other’s hands.
|The Circle of Life, borrowed from Art of Africa.|