Storyteller: MARGARET

Sad woman looking out of the window - Credit - bmonculture deferred
 Put off (an action or event) to a later time; postpone 

Very early on Sunday mornings, when the air is new, I like to sit out on my back porch and watch as the late eve subsides to the early dawn. All the alley cats begin to turn in their late night howl sessions near the large bins. The small birds begin to chirp–as if to let the other birds know that the cats have gone in for the night, and its safe to come out and catch the worms and crickets on the grass before the day gets too warm. I decided that I wasn’t going to do much today. Until I met Margaret.

Margaret is a single mother. I rarely get to see her during the week because she is busy with bringing her kids to school in the mornings. I am uncertain of what time she gets back home, because I am usually at work by the time she returns. I never seen her out on Sunday mornings either. I was surprised to see her out so early this morning. She was busy cleaning a car seat. Her youngest had pissed the seat she told me, so I began to help her by cleaning a few of the cushions.

We spoke to each other, and she asked me what I was doing home. She realized I hardly come out during the week if I am not going to work. Since she has kids, she knows who all lives in our building. We spoke a bit about the weather, what I do for a living–about how she wished she could do some of the things I enjoy, even if its just sitting home at her window–in silence. Margaret married young. She married before she could make up her mind about what she wanted to do with her life. Mostly because she wanted to be out of her mother’s home. I asked if she is still married now.

“You can say that.” She said.

Margaret is still married. She told me that her husband left her for someone else. Someone without kids. Like many women in situations like hers–she is raising her kids on her own. Margaret works hard. She is a single mother, working two jobs, and can barely make ends meet. I recall the property manager speaking to her about her rent being past due. I remember this because I seen her crying in the leasing office–her young son, oblivious to the depth of the conversation, tearing pages out of a magazine. I mentioned to her about seeing her in the leasing office. She laughed and told me that all was okay for now. She just told her “husband” that they were coming to live with him because she and her kids were going to be kicked out of the apartment. He quickly sent her the money.

We spoke a little more about what I do for a living–and that I hope to be published one day. Margaret spoke of her dreams of becoming an architect. She wanted to design grand buildings and schools. “I still have the books from high-school on Greek Architecture. When I get some time to myself, I still thumb through the pages–reading the little notes I written along the page all those years ago.” Margaret would just smile. Then she returned to scrubbing the car seat, gaining momentum when she begins to speak ill of her marriage and her current set of circumstances. She no longer smiled. She spoke of what she would have become if she hadn’t done this and that. How she wished her life were different.

I asked her about the parts of her life she regrets–if she believes that she would ever find the opportunity to fulfill her dreams and do the things she wanted in life–if she thought about it for when her kids were older, she could pursue her dreams of becoming an architect. Margaret just shook her head no. I noticed she passed her hand over her eyes to wipe away tears. “No,” she said again, “Because I don’t know who I am anymore. I know that I may never get the chance to find out.” She believes she has already lost much of who she would have become. “I don’t know who I am now. But I know that who I was is buried here, deep inside. Buried deep under the person everyone wants me to be.”

I told her not to let this stop her. That living is about making changes in life, even if it’s hard. I said, “There’s enough time for you to pursue who you still are, and who you dreamed of being.” I told her that I still say this to myself everyday. We were interrupted by a loud noise, and in the distance we both hear one of her kids calling out to her–another one yelling at the other. Then a loud crash. She looks up at her apartment window, then shook her head no. She waved bye to me and said,

“Life doesn’t work out that way.”

Image credit: The Culture Vulture

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