I’ve never really written much about my band, The Subtitles, on here.
We rehearse most Tuesday evenings between 9pm and 11:30pm.
Each night driving back from rehearsing – in recent weeks anyway – I’ve passed a woman who always arrests my attention.
I often seem to encounter a red traffic light at a particular junction. And she is always there.
She is what, when I was a boy, would have been called a tramp. Although there’s something about her that makes me think she isn’t actually homeless in the classic meaning of that word.
But home is more than just bricks and mortar, a roof over your head.
Probably in her mid-to-late 60s, painfully thin, with very long straggly grey hair and bedraggled clothes, she looks to be about six feet tall. And almost not-of-this-time. Or even this world.
On each of the occasions I’ve seen her she has been scrutinising the houses for sale displayed in an estate agent’s shop windows.
She seems as fascinated by them as I have become by her.
Agitatedly rushing from one window to the other, she looks intently at the houses advertised and seems to be comparing the details of each as she stalks the shop front.
Why is she doing this? What is her story? I am filled with an urge to leave my car, get out and talk to her. Who knows, maybe one day I will. But I haven’t yet.
The most I’ve seen her carrying is a bag of shopping, bought at a near-by late-night convenience store. Which is the main reason I think she lives somewhere, has a roof over her head, bricks and mortar that surround her.
But is that her ‘home’ I wonder.
Is it a place where she is surrounded by love and warmth, a sanctuary from the obstacles life has put in her path? Does it contain family, or a loved-one? Memories of what was. Regrets over what was not. Is she lonely? Or maybe just alone.
Does she look at the houses for sale and wonder about the lives people lead when they make them their home?
Then, inevitably, the traffic lights change. And I continue my journey home.
Footnote: On Tuesday 30 October 2012, my wife and I were driving back home from the cinema (James Bond: Skyfall, very good it was too). We drove past the woman. It was the first time anyone else I know has seen her. So, she’s real. And I felt like I had shared something intensely personal.
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