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  • The Bride Lady

    August 20, 2009

    Back in the late 70s, after I graduated from high school, I worked for an insurance company whose offices are on the edge of a small historical downtown area.

    The particular building that I worked in occupied one city block and was six stories tall, and having been built in the post-modern era, it had windows all the way around, top to bottom, which meant you could see all there was to see. Which wasn’t a whole lot.

    However, on most days you could look out the windows and see a middle-aged woman wearing a tattered wedding dress hurrying down the sidewalk.  She always walked briskly and with purpose as though she were late for her own wedding, her long dingy veil trailing behind her, floating in the wake of her own pungent breeze.  It was a haunting image, and oddly beautiful in a bizarre sort of way, and one that remains vivid in my mind almost 30 years later.

    She was known among those who worked in the building as The Bride Lady.  Everyone had seen The Bride Lady from the windows but no one seemed to know anything about her, what her name was, where she lived or how she became a perpetual bride.

    In all the years I worked in that building and walked in and out and around that building, I never once encountered her face to face. Like a ghost, she just sort of seemed to appear on one end of the sidewalk in a cloud of wedding finery and then seconds later, disappear at the other end. I never saw her anywhere else but from the windows of that building.

    I have not thought of The Bride Lady for a long time, but today as I was driving, I saw a dirty and fraying piece of delicate fabric that had caught on a fence post. It was captivating the way it would lift and waltz in the breeze and then suddenly go limp and rest when the wind disappeared.  There was something about the way the fraying fabric floated and fluttered in the breeze that made me think of The Bride Lady and her veil.

    From six stories up, I was afforded the luxury of participating in her fantastical reality without the burden of confronting her humanity.  From where I stood I did not have to consider that she had unmet needs or a name and a mother — I could simply enjoy the romantic and somewhat comedic notion of a bride speed walking to her wedding.

    From six stories up, she wasn’t crazy and homeless, missing teeth and sharply aromatic.

    From six stories up, she was a beautiful bride in a hurry to meet her groom.

    I often wonder what ever happened to The Bride Lady, if maybe somehow in her fantastical crazy world, she did live happily ever after.

    Or maybe that only happens six stories up.

    15 Comments »

    1. JLT says:

      Reminds me of Miss Havisham, your post does.
      And since I’m the first person to comment, let me tell you HOW MUCH I love your posts (have been following it for 2 years now)and the unique way you tell your stories- whether it is laughing at yourself or marveling at Sean, or whatever.
      And Sean reminds me very much of my own little boy. so different and yet so same!

      August 20th, 2009 at 4:17 am

    2. Rhonda says:

      You never know how or why someone comes to give up on reality. I, too, hope she found her happily ever after.

      On the lighter side, this post reminds me of the country song, “Delta Dawn.” 🙂

      August 20th, 2009 at 6:37 am

    3. mannequin says:

      They were two separate worlds, hers and yours. Looking up, she may have seen the
      nicely dressed young girl staring out the window of the big building.

      Maybe she had worked there, at one time. Maybe her life was like yours, at one time.
      There’s really not too much distance between any of our lives.

      August 20th, 2009 at 7:04 am

    4. Lucy says:

      This post almost brings me to tears. What a sad peek on somebody’s life that happens probably too often. Am I sad that I am terrified that I may end up like this woman or many like her? Yes! I think about it all the time. I remember a woman in Twin Falls, Idaho just like her only she always wore a flowered dress. What was her story? How did she get that ‘way’? The questions are fascinatingly haunting.

      * * * *
      There but for the grace of God go all of us. Sometimes all that really separates us is a bit of distance and a pane of glass.

      August 20th, 2009 at 9:18 am

    5. Megan (FriedOkra) says:

      A living, breathing Miss Havisham. I wish you’d been photo-walking back then, don’t you? Did you at least get to capture the wistfully flitting fabric that reminded you of her with your camera? Oh, I hope so!

      August 20th, 2009 at 10:03 am

    6. Jackie Hall says:

      I was wondering the same thing as Megan. Did you capture it on film? Or was it a sad reminder of what could be.

      The story was beautifully writeen. I could picture it in my mind. You should try writting a novel.

      Thank you for sharing.

      August 20th, 2009 at 10:49 am

    7. Pam says:

      Beautifully written, I could see her in my minds eye.

      I do hope, she found her groom each day waiting for her, or whatever she was searching for. I always want a happy ending…

      August 20th, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    8. mamajo says:

      beauty.

      August 20th, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    9. france59 says:

      Reading your post, I too immediately thought of Delta Dawn. I feel so sad for her that she wandered the street in search of her groom. My mind keeps making up stories about how she came to be The Bride Lady. But then again, maybe she was just fond of the dress that she’d found in a thrift store. And we’ll probably never know. They say curiosity killed the cat. Well….MEOW!

      August 20th, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    10. Hillary @ The Other Mama says:

      Beautifully written. I think sometimes it’s easier for us to look at things like that far away and completely agree. 🙂

      August 20th, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    11. Amy says:

      Excellent. I’ll be thinking about this for awhile.

      August 22nd, 2009 at 12:41 am

    12. JanMary, N Ireland says:

      Such an intriguing glimpse into someone’s world – fascinating and poignant.

      Sounds like a great movie script.

      August 22nd, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    13. Grace says:

      I can’t help but wonder if she was an angel…a visible illustration of the true condition of the Bride of Christ.

      August 24th, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    14. zoom says:

      What a wonderful short story, novel this could be. As usual, superb writing, and I am now singing the lyrics to “Delta Dawn” .

      August 24th, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    15. Glennon says:

      Wow. I wish I was always brave enough to climb six stories down. Or up, when need be.
      Beautiful, AM.

      August 27th, 2009 at 9:50 pm

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