Today I sat next to a woman while attending a closing for a transaction we’d worked on together for months. We had met in person only once before, but had exchanged dozens of emails and had many brief phone conversations.
She was always rushed, often harsh. I liked that she didn’t waste time. It was easy to see that she’d never be pushed around. I liked that too. I’d always tried to be clear and concise when we spoke. There was no spare time.
Today her face was tired. She’d arrived late for the meeting, not apologizing when she entered but saying “I hate GPS”. She had come from a distance, another meeting. She had more meetings following ours.
Our part of the closing was brief, and there was time to talk. I commented about how busy she was. She looked me in the eye for the first time. Then she leaned toward me and whispered, “A dear friend called me this morning and said ‘happy belated mothers day’. I was puzzled. I thought it was strange. I tentatively said ‘thanks…’ Then my friend said ‘did you get the message I left for you? Bill died on Sunday” Bill was her husband, He died two days ago”
Slowly, she softly said, “I had seen that she called, but I hadn’t had a chance to listened to her message…”
Out to dinner at our regular Friday night sushi restaurant, we are seated and I’m sipping sparkling water. Earlier, a friend told me she sometimes feels invisible, and we are talking about what that must feel like. Nearby, at the table to my right, an uninhibited talker sucks me into his conversation. This loud talking middle-aged guy with thin hair and a blue sweater bellows “I was in court and said ‘your honor’” … I re-engage with my own conversation, simultaneously wondering if he is a lawyer or the plaintiff. I lift a piece of ginger with my chopsticks and place it over my spicy tuna roll, dipping it into wasabi-ized soy sauce. “What do you think it means to feel invisible?” I ask. Then the guy next to us steals a bit of my attention “And he wanted to have alternate weekends and split the summer 50-50” “Ok, he’s a divorce attorney with an overly loud voice” I think while also, actually, following our own conversation. “Having no control would make a person feel invisible” She says. Then I say “Or feeling condescended to” For a minute, we both ponder silently. To my left a late 30s couple with two shaggy pre-teen boys occupy a large booth. A woman dressed all in black with large hoop earrings and big hair joins them. She carries gift bags. “These aren’t really Easter gifts,” she says to the woman across the booth as she hands the bags to the boys and slides in next to them. The boys eagerly dig in. A bottle of white wine is delivered to their table. I consider their relationships: “She’s too young to be the grandmother. Well, maybe not. Or she could be an aunt…” We’ve finished our meal and ask for our check. Our conversation moved from invisibility, meandered through work, and finished with weekend plans. As we pay our bill, a loud version of Happy Birthday is heard from the main dining room. From my seat the crowded bar is in full view, and a late 50s looking guy in a golf sweater walks from his stool to the service bar, hands something to the bartender, and kisses her on the lips. “It’s the bartender’s birthday,” I say as we put on our coats. The singing comes to an end, and I add “she’s really popular” Walking to the car we pass a man with a sullen looking teenage girl who looks nothing like the man. They walk into the restaurant. I wonder if she’s his daughter, and if she’s adopted. We get into the car. Another Friday night sushi dinner.