April 14th, 2008

Compassion

I have extremely weak eyes. Aside from being some godawful prescription that renders me unable to go to the beach with people whose hands I feel uncomfortable asking to hold, my eyes also water at almost anything. Pepper, bright reflections, laughter: all render me teary. Wind is the worst–it totally reproduces the effects of tragedy on me. In addition to streaming tears, wind actually turns my eyes red; even the edges of my nose. If I have to walk very far on a windy day, I look like my heart is broken.

Which never used to matter, until I became a pedestrian in chill and populous cities. Now long walks are one of my principal means of locomotion, and I can’t stay home because it’s gusty. Thus, I find myself the recipient of many compassionate stares as I stroll through Toronto, bouncing to my iPod, carrying my groceries, looking like I’m about to throw myself on the casket. People offer tight-lipped smiles, encouraging nods, nervous stares. Bus drivers look horrified, possibly worried I will look to them as authority figures to solve whatever problem I am having (many, it seems, do).

I can’t explain, because no one ever asks. Not once in all my watery years in Toronto has anyone asked the question I see itching behind their own eyes: “Are you ok?” Compassionate people, Torontonians, but even compassion has its limits.

A little boy under a table with cake is his hair
RR

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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