Her eyes were equally dead and defiant.
Last night I left a nice event, and I headed home on North Capitol Street. It’s a major DC thoroughfare that bursts northward from the U.S. Capitol and then cuts a swath through promise and gentrification, pain and squalor. Mostly the latter.
It moves quickly; I moved speedily, darting in and out among the three lanes heading north.
As I approached R Street, I could see shadowy movement in my lane ahead in the dark night. I slowed. As I caught up with the shadow, I found it to be female, older than not, and very slow. The woman seemed intoxicated, such was her lack of interest or concern over the fact that cars were barreling towards her. Just past my lane, she stopped in the middle lane and stared at me as I passed. I’ll never forget her eyes — partly defying me to hit her, mostly looking at me like “Go ahead; do it; you’d be doing me a favor.”
In the split second during which we exchanged eye contact, I also willed the cars behind me, barreling forward towards her in the lane she occupied, to slow down, to see her, to be alert, to not kill her and make me witness it.
And I drove on. Fast. To home. To warmth, to safety, to a man who loves me, to security. To enough, to hope, to a tomorrow worth looking forward to.
And I was struck by those eyes. And by how often we join people in believing that their lives, sinking, sunk, desperate, are not worth much, not worth the relatively minimal effort to get safely across the street in the dark and avoid getting hit.
And we’re wrong.