She brought the white ceramic mug up, took a sip of coffee, and let it linger against her lips. She thought for a second, then declared in her Chinese accent tinted voice, “Steph, I have to tell you something, and don’t take it the wrong way.”
I gulped and looked down. “Ok Jane. Just say it.”
“I think something is weird with you. I don’t think you express your emotions very well. You just don’t have the timing. Like when you told us about your ex-boyfriend’s mom some time ago. You sounded so nice about it and you didn’t seem hurt at all. But now I know you and I think it hurt a lot. Why are you pretending?”
I looked at her with surprise. “I didn’t show that I was hurt? Hmm that’s strange. I actually thought I was overly dramatic. I guess I was trying to hide it because I didn’t want to be the negative one. I was scared to be the strange girl…”
“Anyway, I’m just telling you. I think you should show the right emotions with certain events. The way you told me the story today was better. I think everyone should just do and say what they mean, and not try to make themselves what other people want them to be. You know how Hannah is always so bubbly and sweet? She told me once that she is that way around most people, but Brian (her boyfriend) would be able to tell the world what she’s really like when she’s at home. I’m the opposite. I am too open with how I feel. If something bad happens I just let go, you know? I go like ‘AHHHHHH or ughhhhhhh or HAHA.”
Janecontinued. “Sometimes I wonder how everyone is so different. I want to meet more people. Actually, I want to meet someone who is open too, and has my sense of humor and style and all. Come to think of it, I want to meet me! I want to meet Jane!”
I burst out into a voice-cracking, belly-hurting fit of laughter.
“Jane!!!!! You’re too much! I can’t imagine two Janes.”
She switched topics without a warning, Jane-style.
“Hey, I want to tell you a story. It’s random like usual. So I was walking across the street a few weeks ago when I saw a middle-aged lady and it was obvious that she was blind. I went to help her across and we went to the subway. We were going the same way so we sat together too. It turns out, she is an interpreter. She speaks Spanish and English. She did it for years and years and finally started retiring recently. Now she works part-time about three days a week. You know how I’m going to Guatemala soon and need someone to translate my testimony for me? I asked her if she could help me with it. So we sat in a coffee shop the other day and just talked. We didn’t just do testimony stuff. I asked her a lot of questions about her blindness. In a curious way.
‘How long have you been blind?’ She said, ‘My whole life.’
I questioned her about her love life. She has never been married, she doesn’t have kids, and she is about fifty years old.
I told her that her dog was cute. She said it was, but it was old and not that helpful so she was going to get a new one.
She is a Christian. I asked her How? She said, ‘I believe like I believe you are in front of me. It is no different than how I have to believe this whole world is here.'”
We both took self-reflecting moments. Jane drank some more coffee and I stirred my black lychee tea like it needed to be stirred. Somehow our levels of believing seemed like small echoes lost in a vast canyon.