This Rachel was a young soul in an older body, dressed in scruffy black, her sea legs ably keeping balance as we stopped and started. Words flew out of her quickly, a mad and tumbling rush, slurred by both fatigue and enthusiasm– you know that point in the evening, where both seem to hold equal sway?
She'd started things off by thanking me for being the kind of driver that I am, and I'd asked about her commute. Sometimes I couldn't hear her quiet voice as we took the fluttering curves, but I understood when she mentioned she was a widow. I paused, trying to think of how best to share the Alfred Lord Tennyson quote– you know the one– when she just up and said it herself. This is Seattle, where even some of the street folks know Tennyson.
"Well, better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all."
"So true. So, so true."
"It's hard though," she said. "To open up. To let yourself love."
"It's so hard, once you've lost. It's hard for me to open up, really let go, and that's why. I'm not good at it." Brandon Street. Can't believe we're talking about this. "I used to be good at it, but once you know how much that type of loss hurts,"
"We've all lost though."
"You've just gotta do it. We have to allow ourselves to love so that other people can receive it. So they can feel it. People need to feel loved in their lives."
"Oh wow. I'd never thought of it in exactly those terms,"
"Yeah. It's not just for us, it's for them. It's like we have a responsibility to be happy. If we're happy, we make the people around us happy. If we're sad, we make everyone around us sad. We need to be happy, we need to love. We affect the people around us. It's not selfish. It's our responsibility. You're doing good to the people around you, you know?"
"It's like nature, all this green everywhere. Nature's not afraid to grow and change and live. You ever see one tree saying it's better than another tree? Never. Can't be afraid of it."
And just like that, she was out of there.