Monday, January 16, 2006

Abigail Thomas

Two Januaries ago, I was at Queens University for school, at the residency’s opening reception, standing outside, smoking. I had a small-talk conversation with a woman about what it was that I wrote, who my teacher was that semester, and so on. She was beautiful and worn, and her clothes hung off of her in a strange, elegant way. I mention this—the clothes, that is—like it’s important to me what she wore… I don’t know how important it is, but she has a seemingly stated sense of style—she wears what she wears like it’s hers, though, and it’s striking to me. She owns everything about herself. Especially the eyes. Her eyes tell you she listens, that she has listened in the past, that she’ll continue to listen so long as she can. Abby struck me to the bone. That’s what I’m trying to get at. Right from that first instant, she struck me to the bone.

Later in the week, she read a particularly painful passage in the auditorium about her husband that, for me anyway, defined love. This isn’t to say that I hadn’t intellectually known it before, but she broke down some wall that I’d had inside, probably for all my life. It’s about caring. That’s all. It sounds simpler than it is, I discovered, to care all of the time. To be sure, there are things that just don’t matter, like what color the toilet happens to be, or how many keys you’ve got on your key ring, but there are things that do matter. Like people. Like family. Like lovers or spouses or things that you like or want to do. And it’s deeply vital to care about all of those things all of the time. There’s a lot of energy to divide, but without doing it, a life will never be fulfilled.

Abby Thomas is a picture of a fulfilled life. A picture of caring all of the time about all of the things around her. She might not agree with me, but every time I see her, she inspires me to be more like her. And every time I see her, I care a little bit more.

1 comment:

Rik said...

Yeah, I know what you mean. Abby has truckloads of charisma.