Teresa came into my office every evening after she ate dinner in the kitchen and before she went back in to volunteer.
She was living on the women’s floor at the mission I worked at, and was one of the most kind, confident “everything would be fine and is fine” people I’ve ever met.
She would tell me about these moments where she was volunteering at places around Skid Row (even though she lived there) and would meet volunteers that would invite her to things. She had seen this play with a volunteer that had given her a ticket because she was so kind to them, and even had been invited to dance classes, which of course she went to. Girl can move. She also went to this seminar about relationships led by a married couple that were also psychiatrists.
They had written a book called “How We Love.”
She knew that I was newly-engaged at the time and went into the key points of the seminar – the key moments that really touched her. We sat there, long after I was supposed to go home for the night, and cried and talked and she shared their website with me. She said that I had to buy the book – if she had it she would let me borrow it.
I got it, and man was that book a tough read. It tore into every experience I’d ever had and ripped up my usual fatalistic perspective. It broke down the types of people who have specific types of childhoods and how that relates to their relationships with their significant others.
It was exactly the part of my life that I had left unchecked, and exactly the part that I needed to get stirred up like sand in a sifter. Every couple of days, she would come back in and check on how my reading was going.
“Hey bayby didja get that book?”
“Ooooooooh Lord, they gotchya this week didn’t they!”
She came every Tuesday and Thursday and would ask me what I learned. We would go over what we were feeling and thinking about the stories. She shared her past. I shared mine. It was our little book club.